Add-on Modules

Change Management

NetBrain’s Change Management module is a comprehensive solution for controlling network change management.

NetBrain empowers you to make highly informed changes interactively, execute commands automatically, and then proactively verify the impact of these changes on the rest of your business applications. It gives network engineers a single place to keep track of changes in a way that is fully auditable and adherent to existing business protocol and approval processes. NetBrain provides the ability to take benchmarks before and after each change to ensure that the designer’s intentions are preserved. And in cases of conflict, you can easily execute rollbacks.

Within a single Executable Runbook, network engineers can define a change, deploy the configuration updates, and verify the impact of changes in a way that is fully auditable and adherent to existing business protocol and approval processes.

Define Change

The Define Change node enables engineers to formulate and apply configuration changes to whichever devices are currently active on the Dynamic Map.

In addition, engineers can apply a change from a template, or apply different changes to multiple devices based on specific criteria.

For security purposes, once the changed Runbook has been defined and approved, Define Change is then locked and cannot be modified. This assures intended results occur in each subsequent usage of that specific change Runbook.

Execute Change

The Execute node prevents engineers from having to write complex and unreliable scripts to deliver updates.

When the Execute change node is activated, NetBrain will log in to each device and issue commands in real-time for easy review.

If a change causes unintended results for any reason, NetBrain lets you quickly roll it back with a specific set of intelligent rollback sequences.

Verify Impact

As part of the change management workflow, NetBrain lets you take a snapshot of the network before and after deploying configuration changes. NetBrain becomes your Quality Assurance department, displaying any unexpected impacts resulting from any change.

These snapshots will provide a comparative analysis to routing tables, configuration files, and even show commands – to ensure that no adverse conditions occurred because of the change. In addition, at any point in the network change, you can add standard nodes into a Change Management Runbook to verify existing application and traffic flows, run diagnostic tools, leave notes for users, etc.

Integrate with Existing Approval Processes

Because of network complexity and the reliance on the network infrastructure by dozens or hundreds of business applications, network changes should not be made at will in a large enterprise environment. To ease approval of network changes, NetBrain has included two methods of approving network changes:

  • First, NetBrain allows users to request approval from inside the application – notifying the authorized user that a network change will occur via the chat window and is given a link to the relevant map + Runbook data.
  • Second, NetBrain enables third-party authorization tools (e.g., a ticketing system like ServiceNow) to trigger approvals for network changes, linking the ticket directly to NetBrain and updating the ticket as its status changes.

Change Archive

NetBrain improves existing network change management procedures by creating detailed documentation of every change that has been made through NetBrain with a single click. This documentation can then be attached to other change management records in other systems if needed. NetBrain also maintains a complete history of change online, so subsequent users can interactively query the NetBrain system to review changes that had been made.

Engineers can reference archived impacted devices, execution logs, benchmark data, and more and when reviewing a change.

Application Assurance

Business needs have evolved putting applications at the core of an enterprise’s IT strategy. Understanding what applications and services will be impacted and when an anomaly is detected within the network is critical.

NetBrain’s Application Assurance Module (AAM) is designed to help you manage application paths, periodically verify application path health, and detect network changes. NetBrain displays all application paths in a consolidated dashboard so you can ensure consistent connectivity and health of all application paths. If there is a link outage, hardware failure, network configuration problem, or anything that causes failover to a secondary path, NetBrain identifies it and alerts you while providing detail on the root cause of the path failure. It provides a detailed side-by-side comparison of the before and after the state of a path. And, NetBrain can keep track of thousands of business-critical paths by proactively checking path conditions at regularly scheduled intervals.

And as the number of applications grows, it’s critical to validate the network can support each of the deployed applications.

Applications and paths can be entered individually or imported in bulk all at one time.

Baseline Traffic Paths

It is essential to understand what a healthy network looks like from an application’s perspective, what key applications and services are being used by business operations and the network path requirements that must be in place to minimize costly and unplanned downtime.

Understanding the baseline of critical paths, or the Golden Path of expected traffic provides teams with the needed visibility and intelligent tools to dramatically speed up time to resolution. You can set critical application paths, or Golden Paths, in the following ways:
• Draw the expected path result on the map from the Application Manager
• Automatically set the Golden Path based on a benchmark

Then, configure the system to analyze the results of a calculated path after benchmarks are run and auto-set the Golden Path when requirements are met.

Analyze Impacts to Key Traffic Paths

The application Manager can show the path verification results. The system compares both incoming and outgoing interfaces of devices at each hop along the current path and documents any differences found against the Golden Path.

Use Application Manager after any configuration or design changes to verify that nothing negatively impacted your critical applications.

Monitor and Verify Traffic Paths

Being able to proactively monitor and verify critical application paths enables a high level of agility required for today’s modern networks. NetBrain continuously monitors and verifies the application paths and sends alerts and emails when paths change.

Add application paths to a benchmark task so NetBrain can verify it when the task is executed. You can view verification results in Application Manager, export to a CSV file, or view on a map to see the differences between the current path and Golden Path. During troubleshooting, users can verify application paths via the appropriate node and the system can automatically filter out the application paths related to specific devices on a map.

Preventive Automation

With NetBrain’s Intent-based Automation (IBA), NetBrain Next-Gen ensures your network is assuring that the network is continuously meeting the needs of the business over the lifespan of the network. Network Intents can include network design, policies, performance expectations, security policies, and application paths, among many others. Intents range from purely technical (e.g., packet size) to domain-specific (e.g., access policy) to business-driven (e.g., throughput levels for a customer-facing network application). What makes intent-based automation (IBA) different is the ability to pull in contextual, real-time data from the network’s day-to-day operations to continually validate and verify that the network is functioning according to plan. IBA allows network operations teams to increase the autonomy of their networks for faster resolution of service impacts through automation.

Since IBA requires constant access to real-time data sources on how the network is performing from a network, you need an operations platform that can provide insights based on the historic, baseline and current information about how the network is behaving. NetBrain allows you to create intents for your network by capturing knowledge as an automation unit that you can apply to any part of your network for any level engineer to leverage. Then define a diagnosis for each intent all without writing any code. Once you have an array of device-level outcomes to validate, you have the necessary elements to feed into a loop of continual assurance. You can set intents to run in the background without any operator intervention for intelligent and preventative network monitoring and compliance, policy, and best practice enforcement of your entire network.

At scale, this allows tens of thousands of application design intentions to be continuously verified to prevent one business IT service from stepping on other previously deployed business services. NetBrain provides this compelling intent-based operations approach that can catch network behaviors going awry prior to becoming a bigger problem to empower IT teams to future-proof their operations. The intent-based automation approach drives operations closer to the goal of self-healing networks. The Preventive Automation Module (PA) allows unlimited use of IBA technology.