• Intelligent Bootstrap with Arista EOS and ZTPServer

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Many customers inquire about how to get started with automation into their operational networks. These conversations tend to revolve around how to reduce the operational expense and risk associated with managing data center networks. In most cases, the general consensus leads to starting automation around the bootstrap process or, in other words, how to find a better way to introduce consistency and agility into the deployment process.  Arista’s early heritage grew from solving real world operational problems that enhance our customers ability to deliver massively scalable data center networks efficiently. Throughout the development process EOS has provided innovative solutions that have expounded on the principals of not reinventing technology.  It is that spirit, along with the feedback from our tremendous customer base that led us to introduce zero touch provisioning mode in EOS.

Zero Touch Provisioning mode or ZTP, has been a shipping feature in EOS for the better part of 4 years. Originally introduced in 2010, ZTP mode reinforces Arista’s commitment to finding solutions that integrate with our customers operational environments without having to invest in vendor lock-in tools and technologies. ZTP mode combines the use of DHCP along with URIs to provide a mechanism to hook into the bootstrap process of an Arista EOS switch.  Using ZTP, our customers are able to automatically provide a configuration file to EOS nodes utilizing these oft deployed operational tools.

Today, with the availability of ZTPServer 1.1, Arista’s EOS+ organization expands on ZTP mode delivering a solution for reducing the operational burden of building and managing today’s massively scalable data center networks.  ZTPServer is an open source, community executed project that delivers automation functionality that works in conjunction with ZTP mode in EOS to bring intelligence to the bootstrap process.  ZTPServer builds on the capabilities of ZTP mode in EOS by providing a server deployment for managing the bootstrap process.  Continuing with Arista’s commitment to integrating into the devops community, ZTPServer focuses on fostering an environment that simplifies customers deployment methodologies while providing key features around easing the problems associated with rapid deployment of data center network nodes.

ZTPServer features include:

  • Automatic Configuration Generation
  • Physical Cabling Topology Validation
  • Configuration Standardization
  • Configuration Backup and Versioning
  • Zero Touch Replacement
  • Zero Touch Software Upgrade
  • XMPP Integration

In addition to the advanced functionality delivered as part of the core ZTPServer offering, the Arista EOS+ solution provides a robust environment that can be extended into the operational fabric of customers networks through enhanced and customized features. The ZTPServer Bootstrap client makes it easier than ever to build custom programmable ties to back end systems for a seamlessly automated network deployment solution.

Imagine for instance a bootstrap solution that allows a new network node to automatically determine its identity based on dynamically observed neighbors at boot time. Using this information, ZTPServer executing the bootstrap client can validate that the physical cabling of the switch has been properly installed before trying to configure the switch and insert it into the operational network. Along with identifying itself through dynamically learned peers, ZTPServer can provide extensive visibility into the bootstrap process with the use of XMPP, effectively eliminate the need for archaic RS232 connections to monitor the process. Finally ZTPServer can allow the bootstrapping node to automatically (through API calls) insert itself (along with relevant information) into all back office systems such as DNS, OSS, inventory, dashboards, IPAM or whatever necessary critical support systems are in place.

Getting started with ZTPServer could’t be easier. Arista EOS+ provides a fully automated lab build for quickly deploying ZTPServer along with vEOS instances for customers that are looking to start building intelligent bootstrap applications. The automated lab deployment uses Packer to easily create all of the necessary infrastructure for working with ZTPServer.  For customers looking to get started with this environment all of the details can be found on Github here. For additional information about ZTPServer, all of the documentation is online at ReadTheDocs available here. Finally, all of the source code required to build, install and use ZTPServer is made available freely to any customer at Github here.

The Arista EOS+ organization continues to work closely with customers to provide solutions that enhance and evolve operational best practices. ZTPServer provides an example of one such tool that is available in open source form to all customers looking to streamline their bootstrap environments.  In addition, Arista EOS+ does offer additional consulting and customer engineering engagements for customers that desire full turn key implementations.

About Arista EOS+

Arista EOS+ is an organization that has been created to embrace, along side our customers, the devops community. EOS+ remains focused on delivering technical solutions freely to the open source community for the purposes of advancing innovation around traditional network operational environments. The Arista EOS+ team contributes to a variety of open source projects and continues to actively engage in devops communities in support of building more advanced operational and development models that operate next generation massively scalable data center environments.


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