Dynamic Map

Dynamic Map represents the evolution of visualizing and documenting the network.  Each Dynamic Map is created on-demand to help define the scope of an issue, assist in reviewing or understanding a network design, and ensure you always have accurate up-to-date network documentation.

NetBrain Dynamic MapEverything about a network can be discovered and continuously documented through NetBrain’s interactive media.  This data includes:

Unlike static diagrams, Dynamic Maps can be created on-demand, updated automatically, and shared with full data structures intact – ensuring that your documentation is always effective and relevant.

With NetBrain, a Dynamic Map is the primary user interface to the network. Each unique task may require a unique map to provide the foundation for visibility and automation. Each map is typically created on-demand, through one of several methods:

A-B Path Mapping

NetBrain has programmed the control plane logic of hundreds of network hardware models. Through this logic, any A→B path can be calculated end-to-end, across any complex technology including:

  • Live A→B Path Discovery
  • Historical A→B Path Reference
  • Golden Path Calculation – for determining what the “normal” network path looks like (e.g. for a given application)

a-b path netbrain

Mapping a traffic path is as simple as entering two endpoints (via IP or hostname). A hybrid L2/L3 map of the traffic flow is automatically calculated and drawn, in real time.

Path logic assess many traffic-forwarding characteristics across routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, and more.

In addition, NetBrain’s enhanced path framework will automatically calculate based on the topology dependency of the outbound interface at each hop and calculate path types such as L2, L3, IPsec VPN, VPLS, OTV or VXLAN.

netbrain overlay underlay path

This feature can be utilized to isolate the critical network components to investigate network or application problems, as part of design review projects, or to proactively assure application availability.

Create Map for Hundreds of Sites All at Once

dynamic map export visio network mapSometimes you need documentation for an existing site or branch office. NetBrain can create these maps automatically. Once NetBrain has discovered and created a digital twin of your network, it can also automatically identify different geographic sites within your environment.

The logical relationships between sites can be visualized from a single overview map (e.g. North America → United States → Boston → Boston DC 1). You can then drill into any site by double-clicking the site name to see the L2 or L3 relationships of devices within that site.

Pre-defined Context Maps

Site maps are one example of a type of “context” map. You can access these predefined maps and immediately execute actions on top of them.

Selecting a device from the Context menu provides a list of maps that the device is associated with (e.g. a geographic site, an application path, or a list of vulnerable devices that require an OS upgrade). NetBrain provides several built-in context maps for devices, such as:

  • IPv4 L3 neighbor topology
  • IPv6 L3 neighbor topology
  • L2 neighbor topology
  • Geographic Sites
  • Device Groups

Every context map can have a context action associated with it, and this can be programmed through the Context Action Manager.

For example, if you have a context map of your backbone routers, you could have a pre-defined context action to highlight routing protocols on the device.

Create Maps with Smart CLI

It was reported that 75% of network engineers use CLI (command-line-interface) as the only troubleshooting tool. NetBrain provides a Windows-based, Telnet/SSH tool that contains the flexibility and debug-level diagnostics of a CLI. It is capable of:

  • Accessing the CLI of every device currently active on a Dynamic Map
  • Creating a Dynamic Map directly from the CLI console
  • Documenting activities inside CLI directly into the map, for sharing with peers
  • Comparing the output of any live CLI command to history

netbrain document with smart cli

Create Maps from a Network Event

An effective map is essential when a network problem or change occurs. NetBrain can autonomously create a Dynamic Map of the problem area at the time of the incident via API integration with existing tools.

netbrain triggered automation runbook

This is referred to as “triggered automation” – where any incident, ticket, or alarm can trigger an API call into NetBrain. Its input parameters are used to trigger map creation.

An Executable Runbook (See Section 3) can also be executed at the same time to automate the initial diagnosis of the issue.

Triggered Dynamic Maps enrich each ticket with a contextual map and collected diagnostics, which can significantly reduce the time spent troubleshooting and improve organizational MTTR.

Typical events which may trigger a map creation include:

  • Network Alarms (e.g. from SolarWinds)
  • Incident Tickets (e.g. from ServiceNow)
  • Security Event (e.g. from Splunk)
  • Device Changes

Dynamic Zoom

netbrain dynamic map zoom configOne element that makes NetBrain maps dynamic is the amount of detail present on each device. Each icon on a map is actually a smart object, with potentially thousands of attributes associated with it. As a user zooms in on the map, more configuration data will be presented to the user beneath the device and on the links.

If a user hovers over the network element, a configlet will appear with the corresponding section of the device’s configuration file. This explains where the link information comes from.

Data View to Visualize Any IT Data

Dynamic Data Views are customizable data containers, which can serve as an engineer’s primary tool for scaling diagnostics across an entire map, network, or site.

Dynamic Data View Templates offer users the ability to visualize network data on a Dynamic Map, compare data with established network benchmarks, and prompt alerts or drill-down actions.

For example, with access to a Data View Template, a user could highlight all routing protocols, and create alerts wherever BGP is not configured. A user could also overlay QoS policies per device, and drill down to each interface to see what traffic is being matched, and where.

Dynamic Data Views represent codified operational expertise that can be written once and executed anywhere, providing the collaborative framework to ensure that documented operational handoff occurs with any new technology or design implementation.

netbrain static data view dynamic map document designUse Static Data View to Document Network Design

Static Data Views are containers of device information that can be used to document and share data across different maps. This is particularly useful for decoding network design, such as identifying active routing protocols.

When a map is loaded, all static data views related to the devices are displayed within the Data View toolbar.

Golden Baseline to Accelerate Root Cause Analysis

Each Dynamic Data View can also utilize NetBrain’s Golden Baseline as part of its execution. This can quickly reveal anomalies in network conditions related to the variables within the Data View.

When discrepancies are found, users will not only be given the live variable information but also historical data for the variable counter. This can be used to identify when an issue began.

Network Baseline assures that you will always know of any network deviation from healthy or nominal conditions. Over time, it is recommended to add more and more data variables to the golden baseline (e.g. after lessons learned in troubleshooting)

netbrain golden baseline analysis alert

Use Map as Single Pane of Glass

netbrain-integration-3rd-party-tools-PRTG-data

Data View Templates can be configured to interact with your third-party IT tools, via API. This enables you to pull any relevant data onto a Dynamic Map, minimizing the need to log into multiple tools to find the right information.

With NetBrain, you can truly map and visualize any and all data. In this sense, NetBrain turns its Dynamic Map into a Single Pane of Glass, acting as the primary user interface for accessing any network data.

Intelligent Auto-Layout

netbrain dynamic map auto layoutWhen new elements are extended to the Dynamic Map, keeping the result in order is important.

NetBrain provides auto-layout topologies that will organize the devices into a clearly structured flow, such as hierarchical, orthogonal, or a custom style that the user creates themselves.

Export Map to Visio, Word, & Excel

netbrain export dynamic map visio word excelUsers can save their existing Dynamic Map, and export it into Visio format with the click of a button. The amount of detail on the map at the time of the export will be reflected in the file.

Exports to Microsoft Word can also contain all associated design and inventory data with the map including diagnostic data, full configuration files, routing tables, etc.