With a growing number of customers and requests, the initial plans for minor bugfix release have been expanded into a major release which improves upon nearly all aspects of the product. Here we'll cover the biggest changes in the major release of IP Fabric 3.1.0. Customers can upgrade the installation via the administrative interface by following the procedure in the documentation.
Before we'll go into detail of the changes, let me point out a few of them in the beginning. For visualization, the new View Builder provides the option to create a fully custom diagram views, new manual site separation enables to refine automatic site detection, and improved object manipulation helps to deal with complex diagrams. For vendor and technology support, we've added basic support for Cisco Firepower Thread Defense, added vDOM and Zone Firewall support for Fortinet Fortigate family, and added OSPFv3 support for multiple families. Additionally, we've added customization options for Network Analysis Report, revamped snapshot management, re-engineered backup and restore system and much more, so let's dive straight in!
Based on numerous requests and thanks to our network automation architects, the Cisco Firepower Threat Defense devices are now being supported to complement our ever-expanding portfolio of supported network technologies and vendors. For now, only the basic support has been added as we're exploring use cases with this innovative platform.
The support for the Fortinet FortiGate family was expanded from basic discovery to support Virtual-Domains (VDOM), Zone Firewalls, and Port-Channels. This support has also made into network simulations expanding End-to-End path mapping capabilities with the security layer for this platform.
As more customers are working with IPv6, we've also added support for OSPFv3 for both IPv4 and IPv6 address families. Both technology tables and diagrams now have distinct OPSFv3 options, which include both IPv4 and IPv6 families.
With new released version 3.1.0, we introduce the View Builder. The ultimate feature that allows users to create any customized view of their own topologies and break the boundaries in diagrams. With its intuitive interface, the network devices can form logical groups regardless of any protocol relationship among them. If there is any protocol session between devices, the builder enables to crawl topology further expanding the view. If there is not any relation, the device still can be added manually by clicking the add device + button. The view builder is available through the tools menu in any of the diagrams (three dots).
From now on, it is not possible to save the backup data on the same file system where the platform resides. New partition has to be created to save the backup locally. If there's no secondary partition detected, the platform will not let the user save the backup. More information related to new options is available in our online documentation.
Notably, the Discovery and Snapshot Management pages were merged together. This was a logical step for the platform. We had the Discovery and the Snapshot Management on separated pages, however, every new discovery creates a new snapshot. Now it is much easier to navigate and manipulate with snapshots.
Another great news is for API documentation! From now on it's not only available online in the official documentation, but it is also included in the platform itself. At every one of the technology tables, we can now view related API details. This should make it easier to integrate the IP Fabric platform with any other management system.
One of the most awaited features is undeniably the Site Separation update. It's only the first step, but the Manual Separation is available in the Inventory - Sites technological table. The logic is that the user would let the system separate the sites automatically and would then use the manual site separation option for fine-tuning and minor corrections through the inventory.
The network verifications are a pivotal part of the IP Fabric platform which enables a proactive approach to network management by uncovering hidden issues that might result in the outage or issue in the future. All network verifications within the IP Fabric platform have been refined to better serve their purpose and we've added descriptions to all of them.
All network verifications that are in the platform by default are still fully customizable and users can create their own of any type and include them in the main Dashboard.
In addition to this update, we've enabled customization of the Network Analysis Report document to reflect the changes and any customizations in the Dashboard, so that the report now includes the result of all verifications, including detailed descriptions of the issues.
This big change also meant any previous dashboard customizations are removed due to the difficulty of migration of old checks without descriptions to new checks with descriptions. Underlying verification definitions have remained in place, so it should be a matter of a few clicks to re-add them, and we'll be happy to help you in case you've lost track of the dashboard customizations.
End to End path simulation continues to be one of the key components in Intent-Based Network Analytics and an important use case of our platform. End-to-End path simulations verify the forwarding and security of any communication pair for every snapshot through our network model in mere milliseconds.
Since we've added support for Fortinet security policies, from now it's possible to verify both forwarding and security policies of Fortinet Fortigate equipment through vDOMs within the End-to-End path forwarding check.
There were a number of refinements to forwarding decision calculations in the network model and updates to the visual representation of the path. For example, MPLS links are now displayed based on the presence of the label stack to help to differentiate where the label is popped through PHP and where it is added.
To read more about individual changes that did not make it into the announcement, you can take a look into release notes.
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Would you appreciate much faster end-to-end path lookup simulation on big networks, prettier diagram layout or more extensive routing protocol support? We thought so and that’s why we decided to create even more seamless experience through recent updates. Let’s summarize all the effort.
Special thanks to our Network Automation Architects, the routing protocol support has improved for Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) support, that is now available for majority of the platforms. And the same for IS-IS protocol support, which is now available for more hardware manufacturers than before as well. Apart from that we have also completed Spanning-Tree support for Extreme XOS.
Our core development team pushed their best to create better end-user experience when working with end-to-end path in diagrams. The overall layout of network devices on the path is improved and the user has the option to see isolated path only or include surrounding devices in visualization. Not to mention that query algorithm has been revamped as well, which improved its already satisfying performance.
Discovered end points connected to Access-points are now included in end-to-end path simulation besides.
Notably the discovery for some of the HP Aruba switches has been corrected. Another major improvement is with Network history feature. The Network history is available via what we call the Snapshots or Digital footprint of your network. It has started from version 3.0.0. A Snapshot is created with each new discovery and they are often used to view the historical correlation between past and present state.
To be able to use any snapshot, it needs to be available in Random Access Memory (RAM) where the most recent snapshots are being kept. If there’s any historical one that has already moved from RAM to HDD of the virtual machine, it needs to be loaded first. We can currently load up to 5 snapshots at a time. With version 3.0.5, thanks to updated algorithm, the load time is up to four times faster than with previous version.
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The latest 2.2.8 version released very recently again brought new powerful features and updates to our customers. IP Fabric is continuously gathering feedback and request from customers and one of them was to be able to work with more network devices and vendors, specifically devices from Arista Networks.
I have been in the networking field for almost 10 years now. I started with Cisco (as majority of network techs), then shifted to Juniper and played with other switches and routers along the way (not mentioning firewalls or other equipment) like HPs, Netgear, VyOS, MRV and more, but I have honestly never ever tested equipment made by Arista before. So I am feeling a bit excited by stepping into unknown.
I am not about to let you dive through our process in detail, there are technical parts in the IP Fabric process that should be kept under the hood for special reasons. However it logically involves studying provided materials related to new technologies in detail, testing classic routing and switching topologies from start and devices’ interaction capabilities with our systems. We also work with subject matter experts and domain experts to guide us through the process.
Luckily for me I may say there may be undeniable resemblance when it comes to command line interface to other vendor that we already support. I am not gonna mention which one it is, but you can test on your own. And that is saving us some time, so we don’t have to reinvent the whole wheel in regards to device discovery. Arista Networks was founded in 2004 by former Cisco engineers, their boxes run on linux based Extensible Operating System (EOS). And I praise it a lot, it has python library included, you can jump to bash and play along as you like as in any linux environment. I haven’t tested their Json-RPC yet, but I am probably about to. I’d say the whole EOS concept is very clean and open and of course you can run your own scripts. There’s also vEOS on the market for cloud environment.
All good for now, I am very happy to announce this little teaser for next release and stay with us!
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