Blog Automation

How to Automate your Network Operations with Fabric Connect

Roger Lapuh Director, Product Management Published 28 Apr 2021

A global networking analyst – Forrester Research stated: “Traditional network segments — local area network (LAN), wide-area network (WAN), data center LAN, or branch office LAN — no longer provide capabilities to support modern digital imperatives. A single, business-wide switching fabric will become the de facto architecture.” 

We are calling our end-to-end networking switching architecture Fabric Connect. It provides unique attributes such as end-point-only network service provisioning and inherent automation which enables it to be the basis of an automated and autonomous network.

In the Extreme Virtual Connect IT Warrior session “How to Automate your Network Operations with Fabric Connect” I am looking at the network life cycle and talk about what aspects of the network lifecycle can be automated with our Fabric Connect technology.

I am showing that implicit-automation, automation done by the network, can achieve a high degree of automation, before explicit automation, meaning scripting by the network operator, addresses the customer-specific automation needs which are targeted to their unique environment.

When looking at the network deployment phase and separating it from the network operation phase, then we can see that deploying, configuring, and onboarding a high quantity of network devices, especially at the network edge can be automated and simplified significantly by providing a smart fabric-based solution. A key element of such a solution has to take into account that whoever deploys the infrastructure should not have to follow strict guidelines but has a high degree of freedom. This is especially important when cabling and fiber plants are already in place and don’t follow a rigid structure that could be adhered to such as in brand-new building construction.

During the Virtual Connect session I am also outlining how day to day operations can be dramatically simplified by deploying a network access control solution with the extension of not only authenticating an end-user or a device (can be IoT) but also providing the intended network segment (a.k.a IP Subnet) as an authentication response. By doing so, the device can be connected anywhere to the fabric network and the network service follows it and even better, the network service is cleaned up when the device is disconnected from the network. This means there are no lingering configuration fragments in the network.

To illustrate how a user can deploy new network devices and connect users and servers to those devices with minimal manual interventions a demo has been included in the Virtual Connect session. During that demo, a set of switches are cleared from their configuration and restarted from scratch. Those devices start automatically forming a fabric and create an onboarding service instance such that all of the devices can then securely and automatically onboard to Extreme on-prem XMC as well as Cloud infrastructure XIQ. From there on all devices are ready to be managed and monitored to assure network health and integrity.

Our goal is to provide effortless networking to our customers, this is one of the key steps in this direction.

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