Blog Automation

Smart Network Automation is Here… No More Network CLI – Are You Ready?

Ravindra Rao Director, Product Management Published 29 Mar 2021

Digital transformation is driving the need for a higher degree of automation in every aspect of information technology. The number of disparate entities that connect into a digital environment range from a cell phone to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine to a server and a host of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The network is the backbone of the connectivity needed for digital transformation. Every entity that connects to the network has been automated and has smart orchestration built into the entity itself.

Yet, despite the fact that the network is the central nervous system of this new connected universe the network still remains archaic in its automation capability. A typical network operator would have a plethora of different modes to access, troubleshoot, and manage a large network. Each vendor’s equipment has its own management interface ranging from ssh, CLI to a graphical interface. Add to this the other user interfaces from other domains; server, storage, and support services interfaces, the number of interfaces has grown exponentially and so is the complexity of managing the infrastructure itself.

The galore of challenges that a network operator working an interconnection hub with multiple vendor products with multiple access interfaces are numerous:

  • Use of multiple interfaces
  • Visibility across the network and applications
  • Disparate data formats from vendors and the lack of correlation
  • Extended troubleshooting times

Expanding the Smart Network

At Nutanix .Next 2019 we are demonstrating another aspect of a smart network that is powered by Extreme Data Center Fabrics along with the Extreme Agile Data Center hardware portfolio. The smart but transparent network is inherently:

  • Simple
  • Intelligent
  • Adaptable

The simplicity brings to bear the capability of the network being a service or a micro-service that can be consumed by application programming interfaces (APIs). This is enabled by the Extreme Data Center Fabric software which masks the underlying hardware to provide orchestration APIs to a northbound orchestrator.

The intelligence in the network is provided by leading-edge technology such as Insight Architecture that provides in-depth, pervasive visibility into the network without hindering the performance of the network.

The adaptability of this type of smart network provides the interfaces to integrate with the external ecosystem seamlessly either as a master or slave of the combined solution. It also provides the flexibility to exchange information with multiple other orchestration systems to facilitate the workflow orchestration within an IT environment.

Integrating Extreme with Nutanix Prism Central

Nutanix Prism Central is the single user interface that Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) users are familiar with and use to orchestrate the Nutanix Virtual Machine environments. The integration of Nutanix Prism with the Extreme technologies will enable the Nutanix Administrator to perform the duties of managing and orchestrating the VM environment oblivious of the network layer below the AHV. All the network related activities are performed in Prism Central and the Extreme Data Center Fabric adapts to the changes in the environment seamlessly. These activities could include:

  • Creating a new VM and assigning it to a network group
  • Migrating a VM from one AHV host to the other
  • Migrating across AHV clusters

Nutanix Prism Central has REST API support for third-party integration. Extreme Data Center Fabrics are integrated with Nutanix Prism Central using REST API to automate network provisioning as well as enforcing network policy without involving manual intervention of a network operator. When Nutanix administrator enters network parameters using Nutanix Prism Central, Data Center Fabrics receive the appropriate event by virtue of listening to right events and uses the Prism Central REST API to configures underlying the physical network. There is no need for Nutanix administrator to know anything about underlying physical network topology or commands. Data Center Fabrics will take care of configuring the network to perform efficiently to the needs of the Nutanix administrator.

Here is an example of our integration with Nutanix Prism Central:

  1. Extreme Data Center Fabrics are configured with Nutanix Prism Central IP
  2. Extreme listens for events on Nutanix Cluster through Nutanix Prism Central
  3. New VM creation Event
    • Nutanix user creates VM and launches VM on Nutanix Cluster using Prism Central
    • VM details are derived by the webhook event and provisioned on Data Center Fabrics
  4. VM Migration Event
    • Nutanix Administrator migrates VM from one Nutanix node to another Nutanix node in the cluster
    • Extreme listen to the event from Nutanix Prism Central, and provisions VLAN and other network policies at the destination network automatically and removes the access on the originating port to ensure network security

The workflow of the operations from a Nutanix Administrator perspective includes:

  1. Nutanix Administrator creates a new VM
  2. Extreme picks up the event of VM creation
  3. Extreme configures the network and VxLAN Overlay
  4. New VM is on the network for the application

In the above example, Nutanix administrator need not be aware of underlying network topology, or how the switch ports are configured, and other physical network parameters.

Integrating the Extreme technologies with Nutanix provides necessary services to configure and provision the network on behalf of the administrator in a highly automated and efficient manner.

Need more integration info now? Extreme Networks is here for you. Connect with an Extreme Networks expert now, or call us at 1.888.257.3000.

*This blog was co-authored by Nanjunda Somayaji.

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