Over the last several months Jacob McGill and I made a big push to get through the dozens of open issues and PRs on ntc-templates and to incorporate several enhancements to the overall repo such as updating the readme, testing, and file extensions.
Network Emulation consists of (re)creating a network in a virtual environment using virtual devices. Network engineers have been using Network Emulation for training and demos for some time now, but some new use cases are emerging around Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) of the network itself or the tools around it.
While teaching a Ansible Network Automation course, one day a student asked if there was a way to visualize Ansible playbooks. My usual response is to ensure they are aware of the
--list-tasks command line flag, which will show a playbook’s plays and tasks that belong to those plays in a nicely formatted fashion.
At my last job many fellow enigneers would made the claim that “I like the idea, and I like the info you can provide, but I am not going to build an entire application, with the proper code and prerequistes, for this use case.” I ended up building a webpage, but with all the security concerns, and limited resources it wasn’t a good fit for production use. However, it was adopted in an unofficial manner and that in turn expanded who could use my programs significantly. Not just other network engineers, but it also made life easier for the system admins. For example: when a system admin wanted to know what VLANs were configured to which VM servers they could just go to a webpage, view the simplified layout, and it would provide them the information in a format they were comfortable with. External users didn’t have to put in tickets and wait a week, network engineering didn’t have to stop what we were doing and look at those tickets. So, I love the idea, but my implementation was not ready for production with a proper support model. I have seen several other developers doing something along these lines, but they often seem to hit the same issues I did. I had see a few of the bigger brain developers I know build some Slack integrations, and I thought “Hey that’s cool, but I bet it’s REALLY complex”…. I was wrong: it isn’t hard at all.
In early October, I had the chance and the opportunity to be part of the team that represented Network to Code at Networking Field Day 21. Participating in Network Field Day is always a challenging exercise as you’re expected to present in front of a group of industry experts that are not shy about asking the hard questions. On top of that they love demos, but only live demos, which adds another level of stress on top of this exercise.
Here at Network to Code we work with network devices’ APIs every day. APIs are critical to enable our customers working with Network Automation. APIs are also usually the first (if applicable) choice in our solutions – even if that’s the hard way.