Building network automation solutions

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Category: AWS

Example: Securing AWS Deployment

Nadeem Lughmani created an excellent solution for the securing your cloud deployment hands-on exercise in our public cloud online course. His Terraform-based solution includes:

  • Security groups to restrict access to web server and SSH bastion host;
  • An IAM policy and associated user that has read-only access to EC2 and VPC resources (used for monitoring)
  • An IAM policy that has full access to as single S3 bucket (used to modify static content hosted on S3)
  • An IAM role for AWS CloudWatch logs
  • Logging SSH events from the SSH bastion host into CloudWatch logs.
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Example: Fully-Automated AWS Network Infrastructure Deployment

Regular readers of my blog probably remember the detailed explanations Erik Auerswald creates while solving hands-on exercises from our Networking in Public Cloud Deployments online course (previous ones: create a virtual network, deploy a web server).

This time he documented the process he went through to develop a Terraform configuration file that deploys full-blown AWS networking infrastructure (VPC, subnets, Internet gateway, route tables, security groups) and multiple servers include an SSH bastion host. You’ll also see what he found out when he used Elastic Network Interfaces (spoiler: routing on multi-interface hosts is tough).

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Cloud Networking Architectures

There’s one thing no cloud vendor ever managed to change: virtual machines running on top of cloud infrastructure expect to have Ethernet interfaces.

It doesn’t matter if the virtual Ethernet Network Interface Cards (NICs) are implemented with software emulation of actual hardware (VMware emulated the ancient Novell NE1000 NIC) or with paravirtual drivers - the virtual machines expect to send and receive Ethernet frames. What happens beyond the Ethernet NIC depends on the cloud implementation details.

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Video: Public Cloud Networking Overview

Donal O Duibhir was trying to get me to present at INOG for ages, and as much as I’d love to get to Ireland we always had a scheduling conflict.

Last week we finally made it work - unfortunately only in a virtual event, so I got none of the famous Irish beer - and the video about alternate universes of public cloud networking is already online.

Maximilian Wilhelm had great fun turning my usual black-and-white statements into tweets, including:

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Enabling IPv6 in AWS Deployments

IPv6 is old enough to buy its own beer (in US, not just in Europe), but there are still tons of naysayers explaining how hard it is to deploy. That’s probably true if you’re forced to work with decades-old boxes, or if you handcrafted your environment with a gazillion clicks in a fancy GUI, but if you used Terraform to deploy your application in AWS, it’s as hard as adding a few extra lines in your configuration files.

Nadeem Lughmani did a great job documenting the exact changes needed to get IPv6 working in AWS VPC, including adjusting the IPv6 routing tables, and security groups. Enjoy ;)

Deploying IPv6 is just one of many hands-on exercises you have to solve in our Networking in Public Cloud Deployments online course.
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AWS Networking 101

There was an obvious invisible elephant in the virtual Cloud Field Day 7 (CFD7v) event I attended in late April 2020. Most everyone was talking about AWS, how their stuff runs on AWS, how it integrates with AWS, or how it will help others leapfrog AWS (yeah, sure…).

Although you REALLY SHOULD watch my AWS Networking webinar (or something equivalent) to understand what problems vendors like VMWare or Pensando are facing or solving, I’m pretty sure a lot of people think they can get away with CliffsNotes version of it, so here they are ;)

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Migrating ipSpace.net Infrastructure to AWS

I’m too stupid to unwind and relax over summer - there’s always some janitorial task to be done, and I simply cannot leave it alone. This summer, I decided to migrate our server infrastructure to AWS.

TL&DR: It went smoother than I expected, and figuring out how AWS virtual networks, public IP addresses, and security groups work while creating AWS Networking webinar definitely helped, but it also took way longer than I expected.

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Stateful Firewalls: When You Get to a Fork in the Road, Take It

If you’ve been in networking long enough you’d probably noticed an interesting pattern:

  • Some topic is hotly debated;
  • No agreement is ever reached even though the issue is an important one;
  • The debate dies after participants diverge enough to stop caring about the other group.

I was reminded of this pattern when I was explaining the traffic filtering measures available in private and public clouds during the Designing Infrastructure for Private Clouds workshop.

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Figuring Out AWS Networking

One of my friends reviewing the material of my AWS Networking webinar sent me this remark:

I'm always interested in hearing more about how AWS network works under the hood – it’s difficult to gain that knowledge.

As always, it’s almost impossible to find out the behind-the-scenes details, and whatever Amazon is telling you at their re:Invent conference should be taken with a truckload of salt… but it’s relatively easy to figure out a lot of things just by observing them and performing controlled experiments.

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Infrastructure-as-Code Tools

This is the fourth blog post in “thinking out loud while preparing Network Infrastructure as Code presentation for the network automation course” series. Previous posts: Network-Infrastructure-as-Code Is Nothing New, Adjusting System State and NETCONF versus REST API.

Dmitri Kalintsev sent me a nice description on how some popular Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) tools solve the challenges I described in The CRUD Hell section of Infrastructure-as-Code, NETCONF and REST API blog post:

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Using CSR1000V in AWS Instead of Automation or Orchestration System

As anyone starting their journey into AWS quickly discovers, cloud is different (or as I wrote in the description of my AWS workshop you feel like Alice in Wonderland). One of the gotchas: when you link multiple routing domains (Virtual Private Clouds – the other VPC) you have to create static routing table entries on both ends. Even worse, there’s no transit VPC – you have to build a full mesh of relationships.

The correct solution to this challenge is automation:

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Infrastructure-as-Code, NETCONF and REST API

This is the third blog post in “thinking out loud while preparing Network Infrastructure as Code presentation for the network automation course” series. You might want to start with Network-Infrastructure-as-Code Is Nothing New and Adjusting System State blog posts.

As I described in the previous blog post, the hardest problem any infrastructure-as-code (IaC) tool must solve is “how to adjust current system state to desired state described in state definition file(s)”… preferably without restarting or rebuilding the system.

There are two approaches to adjusting system state:

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Integrating 3rd Party Firewalls with Amazon Web Services (AWS) VPC Networking

After figuring out how packet forwarding really works within AWS VPC (here’s an overview, the slide deck is already available to ipSpace.net subscribers) the next obvious question should be: “and how do I integrate a network services device like a next-generation firewall I have to use because $securityPolicy into that environment?

Please don’t get me started on whether that makes sense, that’s a different discussion.

Christer Swartz, an old-time CCIE and occasional guest on Software Gone Wild podcast will show you how to do it with a Palo Alto firewall during my Amazon Web Services Networking Deep Dive workshop on June 13th in Zurich, Switzerland (register here).

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