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Networking Summit: Automated Network Operations, in partnership with Network to Code – Day 2

Jason Edelman (Founder/CPO, Network to Code, LLC)

Matt Davy (WAN Architect and Automation Lead, A Financial Service Company)

Jeremy Stretch (Network Developer, DigitalOcean)

Damien Garros (Network Reliability Engineer, Roblox)

Nick Russo (Technical Leader, Cisco)

Kirk Byers (Founder, Twin Bridges Technology)

John Anderson (Network Automation Engineer, Network to Code)

Ken Celenza (Director, Network Automation , Network to Code)

Claudia de Luna (Independent Consultant, Data Center, Networking & Automation)

Jeremy Schulman (Senior Network Automation Engineer, Major League Baseball)

Peter Allocca (.)

Location: Grand Ballroom F

Date: Tuesday, May 21

Time: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Pass type: All Access, Summits & Workshops - Get your pass now!

Track/Topic: Infrastructure

Format: Summit

Vault Recording: TBD

See Day 1

The network industry is in the midst of a drastic shift in the way networks are deployed, managed, and operated. This transformation includes adopting DevOps and software development methodologies coupled with IT service management and enterprise solutions for creating holistic systems to significantly improve network operations.
This two-day summit will be packed with segments, including technical overviews, tutorials, and deep dives. Attendees will also hear from end users, engineers, and senior leaders who are already well into their network operations and automation transformations.

Day 2 Introdcution
Jason Edleman (Founder/ CPO, Network to Code)

Network Automation Transformation Phase 0: Source of Truth
Jeremy Stretch (Network Developer, DigitalOcean)
John Anderson (Network Automation Engineer, Network to Code)
There are many technical and business aspects that blend together to form a successful network automation transformation, but data is at the root of that transformation. Networks are made up of many different types of data, including IP prefixes, device inventories, peering relationships, VLAN assignments, rack layouts, and much more. In a manual world, much of this information tends to live in a variety of different systems with differing levels of data hygiene. What's worse, more often than not, tribal knowledge rarely gets expressed in a readily accessible format. Humans are capable of bridging the gaps between systems and their data, but our robot friends prefer to have more explicit representations and data constraints. As humans, we know we should strive to better document our networks and organize its data, but simply put, for network automation to be successful, this is a strict requirement. How then do we go about organizing that data to make it more accessible and what does that look like? Enter the concept of a network data model and source of truth. In this presentation, John Anderson, a Network Automation Engineer at Network to Code, will introduce the core concepts of network data models and how sources of truth lay the foundation for effective network automation platforms. With Jeremy Stretch, the Network Development Manager at DigitalOcean, the two will demonstrate how NetBox (an open source IPAM and DCIM tool) can be used to put these principles into practice.

Going Beyond Vendor Zero Touch Provisioning
John Anderson (Network Automation Engineer, Network to Code)
At this point in 2019, most network vendors offer some form of Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) as a part of their products for bootstrapping network devices. Generally, this allows a network operator to bootstrap a new device by installing an OS image and loading a configuration. Vendors typically keep these solutions simplistic to cover the broadest range of use cases possible. This presentation with introduce some methods and concepts that can be used to extend these ZTP functions to build the right solution for your deployments. This session will guide you through a solution that was built and used in production that renders device configs on the fly, enabling large-scale "pull-device-off-the-pallet"-type ZTP deployments. It will focus on the differences in the vendor-provided portion versus what an organization will need to build for a platform to be successful. Important concepts that will be covered include the use of a source of truth, workflow orchestration, and process visibility.

Network Automation: A Journey, Not a Destination
Matt Davy (WAN Architect and Automation Leader, A Financial Service Company)
Historically, the network has been the last piece of infrastructure to be automated. The traditional argument has been that the network is the core component on which all other infrastructure components rely and therefore the risks are higher and more caution is required. However, if the benefits of automation actually include more reliable changes (i.e., fewer change-induced outages), it logically follows that the network stands to benefit most from automation in terms of improving uptime. But how do I get started? How do I sell network automation to management? What key choices do I need to consider? Where does automation belong in my organizational structure? What technologies should I use? Should I use commercial solutions, open source offerings, or some combination of the two? What are the common pitfalls, and how do I avoid them?

In this presentation, Matt Davy will share insights from his 20+ years of experience with network automation in a variety of service provider and enterprise organizations, including most recently at a large financial company. Learn from practical experience on a variety of topics, ranging from technology choices to considerations for incremental deployment.

Self-service Network Automation Using Slack
Jeremy Schulman (Senior Network Automation Engineer, Major League Baseball)
As a network engineer you may be asked to perform basic and repetitive tasks. Your users keep asking for a "self-service" portal. You want to give them one, and you wonder what options exist and what would work best for your company. Slack provides interactive messaging and dialogs-boxes mechanisms that could be used to create wizard like user experiences.

In this presentation Jeremy will talk about real-world use cases using Slack to create commands that drive network automation workflows. He will discuss the features of Slack he's used and cover what he's learned so far in terms of pros-and-cons. He is also to discuss how Slack is used to integrate with other systems like AnsibleTower and IPAM systems. There may be a little bit of Python code for demo purposes, but this will not be a coding workshop. The purpose of this talk is to show you the art of the possible but not expect you to be a programmer.

Network Automation Journey at Roblox, How to Build a Network Automation Stack From The Ground Up
Damien Garros (Network Reliability Engineer, Roblox)
In December 2017, Roblox's network was managed in a traditional way without automation.
To sustained its growth, the team had to deploy two data centers, a global network, and multiple points of presence around the world in few months. The only way to achieve that was to automate everything.Twelve months later, the team has made tremendous progress and many aspects of the network life cycle have been automated, from the routers and switches to the load balancers.

This talk is a retrospective of Roblox's journey into network automation:
  • How we got started and how we automated an existing network
  • How and why we organized the project around a source of truth based on GitHub and NetBox
  • How Docker helped us to package Ansible and create a consistent environment
  • How we managed many roles and variations of our design in a single project
  • How we migrated from traditional SNMP-based monitoring to a modern architecture using InfluxDB and Grafan

For each point, we'll cover what was successful, what was more challenging, and what limitations we had to deal with.

Just Enough Network Automation to Get You Started
Claudia de Luna (Independant Consultant, Data Center, Network Automation)
There can be any number of real and perceived obstacles to getting started with network automation. There is no question that this revolution in networking is way, way outside the comfort zone of many organizations. We've gone from network automation being a "boutique" capability for those so inclined to a booming business with many choices. We've gone from "show interface" to Python, Netmiko, Ansible, REST, API, SaltStack, Postman, NETCONF, RESTCONF, JSON, YAML, and so many more. Every day, we get closer to a world in which this is a required skill set rather than a desired one, so let's get started.

We will take a common network engineering activity and look at performing that task using Python and Ansible so we can compare and contrast each approach. It's time to revel in being outside your comfort zone.

Automation for Bureaucracies
Nick Russo (Technical Leader, Cisco)
Many networkers today have at least heard of common automation tools like Ansible. The value proposition of automated networking is without question, but some especially bureaucratic organizations struggle to adopt it (and struggle with change in general). Governments, large corporations, and other Byzantine holdovers still stand to gain much from automation, and I've developed a zero-risk Ansible role that anyone can adopt. The tool generates configuration snippets and professional-looking documentation only, still empowering engineers to make changes, hence carrying no risk. I'll demonstrate how the tool works and provide specific contextual examples of how my team used this in production to save millions of dollars for a large government customer.

Engineering Panel Finale: A Tale of Different Network Automation Perspectives
Peter Allocca (Network to Code)
Nick Russo (Technical Leader, Cisco)
Kirk Byers (Twin Bridges Technology)
Ken Celenza (Director, Network Automation, Network to Code)
Matt Davy (WAN Artchitect and Automation Leader, A Financial Service Company)
Have questions on the network automation industry, from either a strategic or a low-level technical level? This panel is filled with engineers who can go as deep as you can on any network automation topic. Do you want to contrast one product or tool with another? Do you want guidance on a network automation learning path? Every engineer on the panel has deployed or supported tools or code in production, while coaching or training many network engineers on their automation journey. In this summit finale, come prepared with all your network automation questions. The panelists have the answers! You won't want to miss this!

See Day 1

Presentation Files