If you are a network administrator, you would be familiar with the tediousness of managinge a mixed-vendor network. Differences prevail in how devices are discovered, monitored, configured, and updated. In all likelihood, there would be a variety of management applications which would function differently and operate only on a subset of devices.
On learning that HCL has developed an application service that can provide Day Zero management of any vendor’s network device, I couldn’t wait to head over to their booth at Cisco Live in Orlando last June.
Onboarding new devices in a mixed vendor environment is time-consuming, expensive, and requires multiple tools
Most tools out there fail on a very fundamental level – they work only with the manufacturer’s devices. Therein lies the dilemma. Administrators have multiple tools at their disposal, but still are unable to manage their networks effectively end to end.
Accelerate onboarding using a single service!
At their booth, HCL revealed how they solve this problem with sophistication using their NetBOT based on-boarding service. This service utilizes Cisco DNA Center to discover a network device and then manages its configuration. HCL demonstrated this capability for Cisco devices as well as for several non-Cisco devices. The service is used in the context of fully automated ITSM tickets that ask for a network device change.
Yes, the service can discern that the ITSM ticket is for a network device change, coordinate the change, restore and/or update the device configuration, and close the ticket. It updates all CMDB changes and descriptions in the ITSM tool as well. Full automation of Day Zero ITSM ticket inspections and remedy means network operators don’t have to undertake this work anymore. And this translates into OPEX savings and faster time to response.
Let’s delve a little deeper into how this service works. NetBOT is a network automation framework that automates the complete lifecycle of network devices, from provisioning to policy-based change management, compliance, and security administration. The DNA Center open platform exposes APIs that can be deployed to build applications that programmatically control the network through DNA Center. So NetBOT, in this case, works as an application on top of the Cisco DNA Center.
Cisco DNA Center uses the concept of device packs, which act like device drivers for network devices, to attach and discover the device. Device packs for Cisco devices, such as routers, switches, and wireless controllers, are made available as part of the standard DNA Center product offering. Cisco has also developed a software development kit (SDK) so that packs for other devices can be developed. HCL used the SDK to develop device packs for commonly used third-party switches and routers, demonstratinge end-to-end management capabilities of their new service.
Furthermore, using DNA Center’s intent-based open APIs, HCL has integrated their NetBOT application to both DNA Center and ServiceNowTM. This means when a ticket is generated, NetBOT can discern the ticket, provision the new box, and retire the ticket, achieving end-to-end automation of device on-boarding. At the event, HCL displayed how this works in a few simple steps:
- HCL created a device -pack for a JuniperTM router and deployed the device- pack on an instance of DNA Center.
- NetBOT then detected a ServiceNow ticket request to replace the router.
- NetBOT used DNA Center services to discover and configure the new router using the Juniper device pack developed using the SDK.
- NetBOT then relayed the completion status to ServiceNow, added appropriate descriptions to the ticket, and issued a ticket closure.
Watch HCL’s Harmeet Singh, Deputy General Manager and Head of Pre-Sales, describe the value of DNA Center open platform and walked us through a demonstration of seamless provisioning of a non-Cisco device with the Cisco DNA Center.
“At HCL we understand the emerging importance of smart networks and its importance in making a business fast, flexible, and agile,” says Tajeshwar Singh, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect at HCL. “We envision a future where network management can be automated. We specifically created NetBOT to tackle networking challenges that enterprises face every day – error-prone manual work, process scalability, time to provision, configure and troubleshoot, and above all vendor lock-in. With the open APIs and SDKs that Cisco’s DNA Center now provides, we saw an opportunity to extend NetBOT’s network automation capability to solve some of these very issues that vex network administrators every day. This initiative is part of our larger infrastructure blueprint for digital transformation.”
Cisco has created an ITSM ticket automation framework based on DNA Center that enables multiple services to be deployed to service ITSM tickets. The blog today highlighted one such use case, Day Zero provisioning for any network device, a service offered by HCL. Additional Day 1 or Day 2 management services can also be developed that utilize the same framework to automate the service of those ticket requests. Read this white paper from IDC to see how you can leverage the network as an open platform and create new revenue opportunities.
Discover this solution and others from our DNA Center open platform partners and see how they are redefining the future of networking.
Learn DNA Center APIs: https://developer.cisco.com/dnacenter/
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*HCL, Juniper, and ServiceNow are registered trademarks of HCL Technologies, Juniper Networks, and ServiceNow, Inc. respectively