IP Fabric Technical Product Demo
Today we will go through a quick demonstration of the IP Fabric platform and its main features. The IP Fabric platform is the network management system that helps companies to empower network engineers and teams to discover, verify, and document large scale networks within minutes.
IP Fabric’s lightning-quick processes intelligently discover over 3,000 network infrastructure nodes an hour and collect more than 2,000 configurational and operational state data per active network device.
The system then generates a digital model of the entire network with the switching/routing and security logic built-in. Since IP Fabric can identify both known and unknown devices, it eliminates the need for manual inventory processes in the company.
To initiate the IP Fabric platform successfully, it first needs to be installed on VMWare 5.0 or later and have an access to all infrastructure devices via SSH or Telnet with correct credentials.
Of course we can apply additional settings, such as IP subnets to include or exclude from discovery, limit the bandwidth or the number of concurrent sessions during and many other.
Once the discovery is finished we have a complete digital image of the entire network, which we call the snapshot. In every snapshot, we can run end to end path simulations, view all operational data about the network, analyze network topology maps or verify the network’s overal state with the Assurance Engine.
That is all for the introduction, now let’s get started with the demo.
We are currently in the Snapshot management area. We have 4 snapshots loaded in the RAM memory and they are available to be explored immediately. Historical ones are stored on the Hard drive and can be loaded to RAM anytime. We can decide to add more devices to currently active snapshot or reinitiate discovery on selected devices and get the newest data.
We have the Connectivity Report which contains all IPs that the platform interacted with during discovery process, which is great for troubleshooting purposes and it underlines complete transparency that the user has when using the platform.
With our current snapshot, we discovered almost 600 devices and it took us about 10 minutes. We have the list of sites that serve as a logical groups for network devices. The user has full control over the Site Separation mechanism, sites can be based on devices’ location or function, it’s up to administrator to decide.
Now we will examine the inventories. We have full and very detailed visibility into all types of inventories: Devices, Interfaces, End-points or End-Of-Life milestones, which are very important for lifecycle management.
In any inventory or technplogy tables Sorting and Filtering tools are available. For example, in case I want to find all Juniper SRX devices within the inventory, I will fill in the vendor and the platform field and I have results available in seconds.
I can choose which parameters will be visible or change the columns’ order. Any filtered output is easily exportable to a CSV document and can be shared with the team. By the way, all search or filter functions available in graphical user interface are obtainable via API as well, with full documentation available online or in the platform.
Because the platform is the tool not only for viewing static data but also for analyzing behaviour of variety of protocols. Addressing any inconsistent states is very easy. As an example we can explore data for the Maximum Transmission Unit (or MTU) on all links just by few clicks.
I will search for an MTU, where we have all the information available. To discover any issues, we’ll just click on available verficiation and we have results in seconds.
Detecting inconsistent MTUs on all transit links in large scale networks can be a really time consuming to get, there can be tens of thousands links to verify.
After discovery, we only export the data and send it to operations team immediately. This type of proactive network management will help us to decrease the number of network issues in the future.
If we desire to have a visual representation of MTU results in diagrams, we will click on the site button and check for MTU in there.
Similar applies if for any other supported technology. In the platform we can research routing and switching protocols, stacks, clusters, 802.1X, PoE, Quality of service and many many more. The IP Fabric platform is a search engine for any network.
As an example may be OSPF protocol.
We are very quickly seeing all OSPF sessions with all details on the network. By a single click we can tell if there are any sessions down or in transition state and use it for documentation purposes or for troubleshooting.
In addition we can go back in time, switch the snapshot and see historical results, which makes it an amazing tool for root cause analysis.
Last feature we would like to delve into, before we move on to diagrams, is the IP Fabric’s Assurance Dashboard, where all these verifications are displayed in one place.
IP Fabric is supplied with dozens of predefined network verification checks. These checks can be altered based on your needs, or you can create your custom ones very easily.
There are many focusing on Management protocols, Performance, Stability, Routing and Switching protocols, and we can go on..
All verifications are provided with explainers and all these results can be exported to the Network Analysis Report, which can be generated by the platfrom on demand.
And now the Diagrams. With the IP Fabric, you have full and detailed visibility on a protocol level. There are not only physical links between devices in the topology maps but all relations between devices. If it’s OSPF or BGP session, Spanning-Tree or discovery protocols.
All views and layouts can be easily modified or built from the scratch with the amazing View Builder feature. All available in a multivendor environment.
The network devices can be repositioned freely and the layout can be saved for future analysis. And the same diagram appears in the Low-Level design document, which can be also generated by the platform.
What we can quickly explore in terms of layers is Discovery protocols, which can be considered as physical layer mapping, Spanning-Tree or Mac layer and Routing protocols, all separately or together at once in a diagram.
In case we desire, for example, to track a single VLAN in the topology, we will click on any trunk link, select the VLAN number and immediately analyze which ports are in forwarding or blocking state for any particular VLAN or examine where the root bridge is.
The same we can do for any previous snapshot, we may go back in time and analyze any topology from the past!
Now a quick look at routing protocols. In the current topology, we have OSPF and BGP present, apart from that we support all mayor routing protocols including EIGRP, RIP, IS-IS or Label Distribution protocol from the MPLS environment.
By interacting with any link or node we get more detailed data, we can add the cost on OSPF links if we want to and export the topologies.
In addition we are able to visualize connected servers, IP phones or PC or wireless access-points if they are present. Then visualize QoS, Access-Lists or First Hop Redundancy protocols, detect single points of failure or non-redundant links.
Now we will move on to the E2E path testing. The End to End path testing can be essential for root cause analysis, verifying the post-migration state of selected application paths across the network or any ad-hoc testing related to client’s portion of the network. The IP Fabric platform enables seamless and extremenly fast path testing on the created mathematical model.
It takes literally seconds to complete standard end to end simulations for switching, routing and security portion. It is also possible to test end-to-end in MPLS networks based on labels.
So let’s test on our own:
With the path check feature, selected paths can be saved and continuously verified by the platform with every new discovery automatically.
Maintaining network documentation may be a tedious and difficult process, that requires a vast amount of time. Which is the main reason why many companies are necessarily hiring external resources to complete the task.
To simplify the process, IP Fabric platform automates network documentation. There are currently two types of automated documents. The first one is the LLD document, which provides a detailed network overview for each business location, including topology visualization.
The second one is the Network Analysis Report, which will give you an overall report of your network, including network state checks.