Executable Runbooks provide automation tasks within a visual programming environment – engineers can automate their manual network tasks at scale and get to the heart of their problems more quickly.
Note: There are additional runbook actions under the ‘network changes’ category that will be covered in Section 6: Change Management.
Ping + Traceroute
Two possible actions in a runbook are commands most engineers are familiar with – Ping and Traceroute.
NetBrain will log into the CLI of whichever device is being utilized, execute the command with the appropriate parameters, and display the output in a pane for the user to verify.
Execute CLI Commands
NetBrain can execute individual CLI commands on any number of devices inside of its Dynamic Map and display the output via its execution log so the user can verify results.
NetBrain logs into each of these devices to perform CLI commands simultaneously, removing the need for users to hop through individual devices to troubleshoot issues.
Multithreaded and real-time, this capability is a critical component in scaling troubleshooting automation.
Overall Health Monitor
The overall health monitor is a pre-loaded application that performs a basic diagnosis of every device on a Dynamic Map.
Its purpose is to identify common causes of device failure, eliminating time spent manually troubleshooting – one of the more time-consuming tasks in NetOps is the initial investigation to rule out possible root causes.
Specifically, the OHM analyzes and highlights the following variables:
Retrieve Live Data
While NetBrain auto-updates at set intervals, via recurring benchmarks, it can also retrieve a wide range of live data on-demand from any network devices active on a Dynamic Map.
Between 30% and 50% of outages are caused by a network change. Therefore, understanding what’s changed is half the battle during troubleshooting. NetBrain’s benchmarking process will collect and capture any pre-defined data, on a specified schedule. Using the ‘Compare’ tab, you can put live and benchmarked data side by side to see what’s changed.
Data Views are containers of device information used to facilitate and structure the troubleshooting process across a Dynamic Map. By executing a Data View from the toolbar, it’s also recorded within the Runbook. Data Views can also be added directly to the runbook from the action bar. Learn more about Data View Templates
Qapps are automation tasks that you can execute within NetBrain. They retrieve and parse CLI commands from devices active on the Dynamic Map, and visualize them for the user. Qapps can be created using NetBrain’s visual programming environment.
Gapps are sequences of multiple Qapps that use a branching logic flow – these are used for complex tasks and for scheduled network checks. The output of one Qapp is used to filter the input of the next Qapp in the sequence. For complex analysis tasks, this makes execution much more efficient.
Execute A/B Path
Users can execute an A/B Path between two points and have NetBrain document all of the network hops between the source and destination. This can also be done with historical data, as a means of comparing current network status to a benchmark.
New in NetBrain v8.0 is NetBrain’s Application Assurance Module, which enables users to save multiple A/B paths in the context of business applications, as well as perform health checks.
Use this feature to ensure your applications are following desired paths throughout the network.
Add Existing Runbook
Creating and sharing runbooks is an effective way to share network know-how. Users can add existing Runbooks to a troubleshooting effort in-progress. If the initial diagnosis has revealed, for example, that there is a QoS issue, then users can add a QoS runbook with specific Qapps, DVTs and other automation tasks that will help them identify the root cause.
Users can also add free text notes on the map, in case they need to leave specific instructions for future users, or just want to document some information that they discovered in the process of troubleshooting. For example, if a user finds increasing CRC errors on an interface, the next recommended action “check for bad cable” could be shared as a Free Text node to aid any engineer troubleshooting when that symptom occurs.
Within a Data View, users can also define drill-down actions that can be used for further diagnostic efforts. These tasks can be immediately added to the map and executed once they appear in the recommended actions pane.
This provides another way for senior engineers to digitize their expertise and give actionable insights – providing next steps for junior operators that empower them to work more independently and scale troubleshooting automation capabilities.
As Network Tasks are executed on a Dynamic Map, the Runbook is automatically populated with nodes and results that can be accessed by any other engineer.
This enables them to share maps that contain the exact steps performed by previous engineers, reducing duplication of efforts and creating a sharper focus to the nature of the problem.
In addition, once users create runbooks for specific processes, they can implement those runbooks as recommended actions in order to share their expertise with other engineers and departments, empowering junior operators to work more independently.
In this sense, NetBrain helps make knowledge executable, by encoding employee expertise into shareable documents that can be rerun by anyone, on any network.
Just as NetBrain can trigger a Dynamic Map in response to a network alarm (see section 2.1.4), NetBrain is also capable of executing a Runbook across the problem area at the same time.
A power user can pre-define the runbook that should be executed within NetBrain’s API Stub, and when a map is triggered the responding engineer will also receive the results of the initial diagnosis that NetBrain was instructed to perform.
This capability enables users to fully automate the first response of their Network Operations workflow, offloading a lot of the mundane and manual tasks involved with troubleshooting onto a machine that can provide diagnostic data at any time of day, at the moment an event occurs.
Designed to replace in-house scripts and automate virtually any network task, NetBrain’s Qapp technology allows users to create on-demand automation that can be written once and executed anywhere regardless of vendor.
Qapps are customizable programs that pull data from network devices and help engineers draw meaningful insights from the results.
Examples of tasks a Qapp can perform include:
Gapps are advanced automation tasks, able to incorporate multiple Qapps together to handle more complex tasks within the network.
Gapps string Qapps together with if/then logic, determining whether a Qapp in sequence will execute based on the result of the upstream Qapp.
Gapps help narrow down problem scopes with multi-stage automation and are particularly useful for scheduled tasks – their logic enables complex tasks to be executed without the need for a human operator.
If you don’t have the exact Qapp for your problem, you can instantly create a Qapp from variables associated with specific CLI commands.
You start by entering a CLI command, or any variable which is part of a CLI output, or which has already been collected via API. After you find the data point you’re looking for, simply drag appropriate variables from the search results to the map. The system will retrieve and visualize their values, for each device on the map, from the live network immediately.
These values are accessed from CLI parsers in your library, looking for elements inside of CLI output like device properties, interface properties, traffic errors – or anything else that can be pulled from any device’s live-access method.
Once the Instant Qapp has been run, you can save it as a regular Qapp for later use.