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Must-Knows About DevOps, Cisco Open NX-OS and Ansible

You may wonder what the terms “DevOps, Cisco Open NX-OS and Ansible” have to do with each other. If you plan to visit AnsibleFest 2015 in San Francisco, stop by the Cisco table to learn more.


The DevOps approach has been embraced and pioneered by Web 2.0 customers for some time, and now we’re seeing the trickle of that coming to an Enterprise customer near you. The simple reason is the ability to bring operations and development closer together, enabling faster deployments of applications without breaking the infrastructure. Cisco colleague Luca Relandini expands on DevOps here.

The Cisco Open NX-OS is designed to support the DevOps approach. Shane Corban shares Six Key Points What OPEN means for NX-OS. The concept behind Open NX-OS is to enable operators to make changes in a more programmatic way that drives automation and efficiency in the infrastructure without compromise on security. Visit the developer community to learn and find more scripts using the capabilities of Open NX-OS.

OpenNXOS Nov2015

As part of the NX-OS openness, agentless tools like Ansible leverage NX-API to gather real-time state data and to make configuration changes on Cisco Nexus switches. To stay up to date on Ansible solutions, visit the Cisco marketplace.

In this Oct 9th SDxCentral DemoFriday webinar, we showed how Day 0, 1, 2 operations can be accelerated with Ansible. And to stay up to date on the latest Cisco NX-OS Ansible Module Docs, visit the GitHub repository.



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Network Automation for DevOps

I am only going to say this once.

I am only going to say this once.

This is our third episode for what I have personally termed the ‘NX-OS’ exposed series.   The first two have been about programmability.  Exploring the exposed interfaces, Object Models, the NX Tool kit and more of the NX-API framework that enables DevOps teams to respond more quickly. [TWTV 176 – Open NX-OS Programmability and TWTV 180 – NX-API Rest/Object Models].


Today’s show dives into the automation piece.  That simultaneously higher level conversation covering what an organization really cares about, why IT exists and how we finally brought data center switching into the automate-able value chain.

Network automation is an integral part of the overall infrastructure automation. Yet, it has been largely left out of the DevOps movement.

Automation is central to achieving a truly agile datacenter.  DevOps has been the cultural movement working towards the realignment of disparate function involved in the IT value stream.  It is the modern, ‘digital,’ equivalent of an optimized manufacturing line.

Read More »

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Experience Day 0, 1, 2 and N Operations @ PuppetConf

Craig Huitema blogged about Cisco’s SDN strategy and one of the key pillars is programmable networks. Cisco’s programmable networks is based on Nexus operating system NX-OS and our Robb Boyd from TechWiseTV covers it here and goes in more depth about NX-API REST (Object model) here and here.

Also go here if you missed our September 25th SDxCentral DemoFriday where we looked at use cases and demos related to NX-Toolkit and NX-API REST. Bottom line is to drive operational agility in the data center by enabling IT admins to manage Nexus switches as a Linux server with open interfaces and integrating DevOps tools.

One of the DevOps tools is Puppet. Integrating Puppet Enterprise agent is an integral part of programmable networks as I touched on it in my previous blog.

As we break lifecycle management into Day 0, 1, 2 and N to install, configure, optimize and upgrade the network to meet application and user requirements, Puppet plays a key role in each step.

Day0_1_2_N Operations

Come and visit Cisco’s booth at PuppetConf October 7 – 9 to see demos and learn more about the integration of Puppet and its benefits on Day 0, 1, 2, and N. Also, visit our sponsor theater on Thursday, Oct 8 at 12:10 PM in the main exhibit hall as well as our breakout session Friday, October 9 at 2:30 PM. We will share how Cisco’s strategy of openness has helped the developer community.

To stay up to date on the latest version of the CiscoPuppet Module source code, visit this GitHub repository that allows network administrators to manage Cisco Network Elements using Puppet.

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Open NX-OS featured on TechWiseTV

Only on TechWiseTV

Only on TechWiseTV

This is the first in a multi-part series where we cover ‘programmability’ for networking.  The idea is to fully review the programming options now available inside the Nexus switches, (3000, 9000).  This first episode covers new access with Linux tools, NX-API and more. Further shows will be diving into the details around Object Models and orchestration partners.

The primary point for any of these is to understand how Cisco Open NX-OS extensibility exposes greater programmability and automation capabilities.  It is fascinating and full of new learning opportunities.  It does not come without a few career questions of course…usually, something along the lines of: do network engineers need to become programmers now too?  

Two answers:  Yes.  It depends.

Networking knowledge and skill should not be undersold here.  Programming capabilities should be additive.  They are useful in just about any tech career and obviously affecting the networking space.  I think it’s foolish to ever quit learning but it does depend on your aspirations, your current level of satisfaction and perhaps how narrowly defined your skill set might be.

Full disclosure: I am not a programmer. I have been learning the fundamentals of python and a few others as I work on this series but I am not hire-able for this skill by any means. But the distinct feeling I get, and the feedback I hear from you guys: its not that hard.  You are probably well versed in scripting for various CLI operations…take it up a few notches and work on some of these ‘readable’ languages that will have similar syntax.  This will give you the ability to judge the appeal of what we are offering with ACI and other solutions much more credibly…and I guarantee you will find ways to get rid of redundant crap and stupid errors you may be fighting with yourself or your team.


Live, interactive, never dull.

September 21, 2015

Programmable networks will forever change the way you manage infrastructure enabling you to dramatically accelerate configuration and deployment of your network, automate time consuming manual tasks, and allocate IT resources far more efficiently.  Are you ready for the revolution?  

Discover how to create a programmable network as we discuss and demonstrate the NX-API and NX-API REST (Object Model) in detail. Understand how Cisco Open NX-OS extensibility exposes greater programmability and automation capabilities that eliminate costly manual errors.

– You can sign up at the workshop tab when the date gets a bit closer,


Nicolas Delecroix in the TechWiseTV Lab

Nicolas Delecroix in the TechWiseTV Lab

TechWiseTV 176: Open NX-OS: Programmability


Two great experts on this episode.

Six Key Points: What OPEN means for NX-OS

Six Key Points: What OPEN means for NX-OS

Shane Corban shares Six Key Points: What OPEN means for NX-OS

Changes made across the software stack to address Extensibility, Openness, Programmability.

  1. Auto Deployment (Bootstrap and Provisioning)
    • Added support for PXE server, operationalize NX-OS software to match an existing server environment
  2. Extensibility – how we package software
    • We did not use to expose much beyond a bash shell
    • Now you can install native RPM’s, and third party applications running processes as they would on a Linux server
  3. Open Interfaces
    • We are now adding support to leverage Linux like tools for debugging, configuration and troubleshooting…manipulate those front panel ports as native Linux interfaces within our switch software stack.
  4. Application Integration (Adaptable SDK)
    • Published an SDK, a build environment that you can install on any Linux server, download the build agent, and put your source into that directory structure and build into an RPM for installation and run it natively.
    • Build your own custom automation apps, monitoring agents, and have them run natively on our platform
  5. Programmability Tool Choice
    • Sandbox
    • We have a native Python shell today that has a Native Cisco Library that you can utilize for automation
    • NX-API – the ability to embed CLI commands and structured data (JSON, XML) for execution on the switch via HTTP/HTTPS Interface to get back structured data back on show commands.
  6. Management Tools
    • Support for Chef and Puppet
    • Agents will be publicly available on the enterprise sites
    • Support for Open Stack, Neutron

NX-OS is now more modular, more open, more capable of third party integration providing a  wide variety of programmability choices ideal for Dev-Ops environments.  

Five case study examples

Five case study examples

Nicolas provides five case study examples. 

  1. Checking Software Version
  2. Using Python script with NXAPI and JSON to pull version numbers
  3. Python script to query multiple switches to check compliance against a specific version
  4. VLAN Provisioning
  5. Checking for proper VLAN provisioning

Special thanks behind the scenes to Rami Rammaha and Mark Jackson


More Reading:

Cisco Nexus 9000 Programmability Guide

Matt Oswalt is a great writer. You should follow his blog: Keeping it Classless.   I enjoy his angles on things.  Read up on his blog entry: Evolution of Network Programmability, Nexus 9000 NX-API,NX-API Update.

Some Learning Basics:

What do you think still needs to be covered?  I would love any thoughts on how the rest of this series should be shaped.  Leave your comments below and just to make sure…tag me on twitter.  We are diving into Object Models (taping next week) and then some angle with the Orchestration Partners.   Case in point: Puppet Labs is making available today a native Puppet NX-OS agent and Cisco Puppet Module.

Let me know!


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The Puppet Labs Integration With NX-OS Is Here

As we continue our journey of openness that is summarized by ZK Research: Cisco’s Data Center Strategy is Built on Openness, we announced the Open NX-OS at Cisco Live San Diego in June 2015 that runs on Nexus 3K and Nexus 9K platforms.

The Open NX-OS extensibility supports:

  • Object store and model-driven NX-API enhancements. NX-API enables common programmatic approach across entire Nexus switch portfolio (Nexus 2000 through Nexus 9000 switches)
  • Built-in third party DevOps automation tools like Puppet
  • Secure SDK enabling third party and custom application development running natively on NX-OS

The new programmability features in Open NX-OS, such as the bash shell environment, python interpreter and NX-API access, it enables the built-in DevOps Puppet tool to be extended to automate anything on the platform. Cisco and Puppet Labs are excited to make available the Puppet Cisco [NX-OS agent]


and Cisco [Puppet Forge Module]


Companies are embracing software defined networking (SDN) and DevOps practices to deploy network changes repeatedly and consistently. Customers who run mega scale data centers like Web2.0/OTT and fortune 100 are looking to do more with less, increase “device:admin” ratio and agility, and respond faster to business needs in a world where continuous application update grows by the hour without breaking infrastructure operation.

Using Puppet Enterprise, you can not only realize those SDN benefits, but you also extend DevOps practices to network administration across mega scale data centers, commercial and  large enterprises by defining your desired network configuration with infrastructure as code.  Using infrastructure as code enables cross-team change collaboration, automated infrastructure testing, and automated application deployments that span compute, storage, and network.

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