NetBrain’s Network Data Model and the Foundation for Automation
IT’s Big Data When IT problems strike, the key to prompt resolution is hiding in the data – data produced when the fault occurs, historical data, and live data obtained…
June 8, 2020
In Part 1 of this overview, we examined the NetBrain Automation Success Framework as a whole. In Part 2, we examined the elements of NetBrain that comprise Level-1 Automation Success. Now we will examine the elements of Level-2.
In NetBrain, user actions and the resulting data and notes are documented in the powerful, simple Runbook format. Runbooks are essentially a series of steps, each step defining an automation task for the NetBrain system to run and recording the results, along with any notes the user wishes to include. The end result is automatic, complete documentation of the workflow in question.
Runbook Templates allow us to pre-define Runbook flows, which allows us to keep our standard procedures right inside of NetBrain. These templates can include not only NetBrain automation, but also knowledge transfer—the single biggest difference between a good procedure and a great procedure, regardless of format. Runbook Templates can also include branches, allowing authors to guide users through multiple potential courses of action. We can even clearly specify the particulars of actions to be taken outside of NetBrain itself (replacing a cable, for example).
One of the first pieces of NetBrain automation developed, Qapps—Quick Automation Applications—are small, user-definable programs within the NetBrain platform. The most unusual aspect of Qapps is that while they require their authors to program (specify what to do), they do not require their authors to code or script in any form; they are built through a point-and-click interface.
In practice, a Qapp is generally a single task within a larger procedure; in fact, many Runbook Templates consist mainly of Qapps. While it is certainly possible to build large, complex Qapps, most steps within a procedure are actually fairly simple. What makes Qapps so powerful is that these simple tasks are often very labor-intensive when done manually. The couple of minutes it takes to build a Qapp often save literal hours of work.
An optional element of the NetBrain platform, the Change Management Module allows us to plan CLI change scripts, get them approved, and then execute them quickly and cleanly. We can then easily verify the changes with NetBrain’s data-gathering and compare (delta analysis) tools. This is all done through the crisp, clear Runbook format, making it easy for all involved parties to see what is planned and what has happened.
The use of NetBrain Change Management allows us to remediate problems immediately after diagnosing them, with full approval, documentation, et cetera. Also, we can create Change Templates, just like regular Runbook Templates, to codify commonly used change procedures within our network environment. All there is to know about NetBrain Change Management can be learned from a few short videos.
Over the next few days, I will be posting the final part of this overview, covering Level-3 Automation Success, respectively. Once it is live, we will add a link to the article below.
To get started with the Level-1 Automation Success Package, please click on this beautiful and finely-crafted link.