Network Automation Tools

Network automation tools are software applications or platforms designed to automate various aspects of network management and operation. These tools help streamline network configuration, provisioning, monitoring, troubleshooting, and other tasks, reducing manual effort and increasing operational efficiency.

Here are some popular network automation tools:

  1. Ansible
  2. Puppet
  3. Chef
  4. SaltStack
  5. Cisco DNA Center
  6. Juniper Junos Automation
  7. Nornir
  8. Netmiko
  9. Napalm
  10. SolarWinds Network Automation Manager

1. Ansible:

Ansible is an open-source automation platform that allows users to define and manage network infrastructure as code. It uses declarative language to describe desired network states and automates the configuration and management of network devices.

Key features:

  • Leverage the current network CLI commands to automate over 45 different networking vendors, between switches, routers, load balancers, and firewalls
  • Provide automation for software-based controllers (SDN)
  • Automate interconnection of hybrid and multi-clouds

2. Puppet:

Puppet is an infrastructure automation tool that enables the automation of network device configuration and management. It provides a model-driven approach and uses a declarative language called Puppet DSL (Domain-Specific Language).

Key features:

  • Declarative Language: Puppet uses a declarative language that allows you to define the desired state of your infrastructure without specifying the implementation details.
  • Configuration Management: Puppet excels at configuration management, ensuring that systems are configured correctly and consistently according to defined policies.
  • Infrastructure as Code: Puppet treats infrastructure configuration as code, allowing you to version control, test, and manage it like any other software project.

3. Chef:

Chef is a powerful automation platform that uses a domain-specific language called Chef DSL. It allows for the automation of network device configuration, provisioning, and management.

Key features:

  • Infrastructure as Code: Chef treats infrastructure configuration as code, allowing you to define and manage it in a version-controlled manner. This approach provides consistency, repeatability, and the ability to easily scale and collaborate.
  • Cross-Platform Support: Chef supports multiple operating systems and cloud platforms, making it suitable for heterogeneous environments. It can manage configurations across Linux, Windows, Unix, and other platforms.
  • Recipe and Cookbook Model: Chef organizes configuration code into recipes and cookbooks. Recipes define specific configuration steps, while cookbooks group related recipes together. This modular approach promotes code reuse and maintainability.

4. SaltStack:

SaltStack is an open-source network automation and configuration management tool. It uses a Python-based configuration management language and provides remote execution capabilities, making it suitable for managing network infrastructure.

Key features:

  • Remote Execution: SaltStack allows you to execute commands and run scripts on remote systems, enabling efficient management and automation of distributed infrastructure.
  • Configuration Management: SaltStack provides robust configuration management capabilities, allowing you to define and manage the desired state of your systems. It ensures consistency and automates the configuration of software packages, services, files, and more.
  • Scalability: SaltStack is designed to scale, making it suitable for managing large-scale infrastructures with thousands or even tens of thousands of nodes. It leverages a scalable architecture and optimized communication protocols to handle high volumes of system management tasks.

5. Cisco DNA Center:

Cisco DNA Center is a centralized management platform for Cisco networks. It offers network automation capabilities, including software-defined networking (SDN), policy-based automation, and network provisioning.

Key features:

  • Network Automation: Cisco DNA Center enables network automation by automating the configuration, provisioning, and management of network devices. It reduces manual effort, ensures consistent configurations, and improves operational efficiency.
  • Software-Defined Networking (SDN): With SDN capabilities, Cisco DNA Center provides centralized control and programmability of the network. It allows administrators to define policies and implement network-wide changes from a single interface.
  • Network Provisioning: Cisco DNA Center simplifies network provisioning by automating the process of adding new devices to the network. It provides templates and workflows to streamline device configuration, accelerating deployment time.

6. Juniper Junos Automation:

Juniper Junos Automation provides tools and APIs to automate the configuration and management of Juniper Networks devices. It includes tools like Junos OS automation scripts, Juniper Extension Toolkit (JET), and Junos Space Network Director.

Key features:

  • Junos OS Automation Scripts: Juniper Junos Automation provides a collection of pre-built automation scripts that help automate routine tasks and configurations on Juniper Networks devices. These scripts can be customized and extended to meet specific automation requirements.
  • Juniper Extension Toolkit (JET): JET is a software development kit (SDK) provided by Juniper Networks. It allows developers to build custom applications and automation tools that interact with Junos OS devices. JET supports multiple programming languages, including Python and C.
  • Junos PyEZ: Junos PyEZ is a Python library that simplifies the automation of Junos OS devices. It provides a high-level, programmatic interface for interacting with Junos devices, making it easier to automate tasks such as configuration management, monitoring, and troubleshooting.

7. Nornir:

Nornir is a Python-based network automation framework that provides a set of libraries and utilities for automating network tasks. It allows for easy scripting and automation of network device configuration and management.

Key features:

  • Python Automation: Nornir is a Python-based automation framework that allows you to automate network and infrastructure tasks using the power and flexibility of Python programming.
  • Multi-Vendor Support: Nornir provides multi-vendor support, enabling automation across a wide range of network devices and platforms from different vendors.
  • Task Execution: Nornir allows you to define tasks and execute them in parallel across multiple devices, improving efficiency and reducing execution time.

8. Netmiko:

Netmiko is a Python library that simplifies the automation of network device connections and interactions. It supports a wide range of network devices and provides a consistent interface for device configuration and management.

Key features:

  • Multi-Vendor Support: Netmiko supports a wide range of network devices from various vendors, including Cisco, Juniper, Arista, Huawei, and more.
  • Secure SSH Connections: Netmiko provides secure SSH connections for device communication, ensuring data confidentiality and integrity during automation tasks.
  • Configuration Management: Netmiko allows you to perform configuration changes on network devices programmatically, enabling automation of tasks such as device provisioning, updates, and backups.

9. Napalm:

Napalm (Network Automation and Programmability Abstraction Layer with Multivendor support) is a Python library that provides a unified API for network device configuration and management. It supports various network platforms and vendors.

Key features:

  • Multi-Vendor Support: NAPALM supports a wide range of network devices from different vendors, including Cisco, Juniper, Arista, Palo Alto Networks, and more.
  • Configuration Management: NAPALM allows you to automate configuration management tasks by providing a unified interface to configure and manage network devices. It simplifies the process of making configuration changes across different platforms.
  • Stateful Network Validation: NAPALM provides the ability to validate the state of network devices against a desired configuration or policy. It allows you to ensure network compliance, detect configuration drift, and perform automated audits.

10. SolarWinds Network Automation Manager:

SolarWinds Network Automation Manager is a comprehensive network automation and configuration management tool. It offers features like automated network discovery, configuration backups, change management, compliance reporting, and more.

Key features:

  • Analyze traffic and bandwidth and find hogs
  • Monitor and backup network devices automatically
  • Deploy network configurations in bulk
  • Automatic subnet discovery and IP scanning
  • Monitor network performance
Rajesh Kumar
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