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2023 Automation Review: Top 3

The year of 2023 I think may have had some of the biggest leaps in the Network Automation capabilities that are being delivered by some of the best in the business. With Nautobot's Golden Config App adding the ability to complete configuration remediation and Ansible release Event Driven Ansible, there are a couple of powerful tools to help you with your Network Automation. And all with a great new conference addition specific to Network Automation.

Nautobot: Get IP Addresses From Nautobot

One of Nautobot's primary functions is to serve as an IPAM solution. Within that realm, the application needs to provide a method to get at IP address data for a device, quickly and easily. In this post I will review three prominent methods to get an IP address from Nautobot. It will demonstrate getting the address via:

  • Nautobot REST API
  • curl
  • Python Requests
  • GoLang HTTP
  • pynautobot
  • Ansible Lookup
  • Nautobot GraphQL API
  • curl
  • Python Requests
  • GoLang HTTP
  • pynautobot
  • Ansible Lookup

Nautobot IP Provisioning

One of the great things about building an enterprise system, is being able to get systems to work cohesively amongst themselves to bring a complete solution. One of the workflows that is often required in a static IP address environment is the need to provide static IP addresses to hosts on a network segment. When using an IPAM (IP Address Management) solution such as Nautobot, the APIs and SDKs/modules made available for use in automation workflows is paramount to having the cohesion to make a seamless IT system.

In this post I will be diving into the use of Nautobot as the IPAM. Using Ansible and the Nautobot modules, I will then show how you can get the next available IP address and assign it for use to the next VM. There will likely need to be some minor tweaks for use in your system.

Automation Inventory

This is a topic that I'm fairly opinionated on as of late is looking at what should be maintained within an inventory and the strategy of how to set up the inventory.

For the case of this blog post, I am going to use the term playbook to represent the automation being run. This is yes an Ansible term, but also apply this as your automation run that is using Nornir or any other automation framework.

Nautobot Ansible Collection: Devices

All of the work through the modules thus far in the series have brought us to what we all want to see. How to get or update device information inside of Nautobot. Adding of sites, device types, device roles are required to get us to this point. Now you can see how to add a device to Nautobot using the networktocode.nautobot.device module.

There are many optional parameters for the module specifically. I encourage you to take a look at the module documentation (linked below) in order to get a good sense of all of the options available. The required parameters for a device that is present are:

  • device_role
  • device_type
  • name
  • site
  • status

An important caveat for me is that this is something that should be done with rarity. Only when truly adding a device to Nautobot, in a programmatic way this should be used. I do not advocate for running this module constantly based on your devices. The idea is to get Nautobot to be your source of truth about devices, not to have devices be the source of truth and updating Nautobot.

So where do I see this being run? I do absolutely see it being a part of a pipeline or a service portal. The idea being that the service portal has a request for a new site to be turned up. That in turn kicks off an Ansible Playbook that will make the necessary updates to Nautobot, and is done in a consistent manor.

Nautobot Ansible Collection: Device Types

A device type is the next piece in the Nautobot Device onboarding requirements. The device type corresponds to the model number of the hardware (or virtual machine). This is where you are able to template out devices during their creation. So if you have a console port on a device type, that console port will be created when you create the device. However, there is NOT a relationship built between the device type and the device. If the device type gets updated after the device is created, the device itself is not updated.

Nautobot Ansible Collection: Device Roles

A device role is aptly named, the role of the device. This is likely to be something that is meaningful to your organization and could change. For example you may have the 3 tier system of Core, Distribution, and Access layer environments. These are just fine. So you would want to have the roles there to reflect this reality. You may have leaf-spine environments, there are two more roles. And in my past I have also had roles that would indicate that there are dedicated DMZ, WAN edge, Internet edge devices. So this is the place to set this.

Nautobot Ansible Collection: Manufacturers

Adding your manufacturers via code is the easy way to get started with your Nautobot devices. Immediately after adding Sites, the next thing to get going when using Nautobot as your Source of Truth is to add in Manufacturers. These are just that, who makes the gear that you use. For this demonstration you will see adding just a few manufacturers. I'm not necessarily picking on any vendors and who should or shouldn't be here. It is just what my background brings.