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New tools and goodies under the tree

After a long year of furthering the network automation space, the holiday season is getting into full swing and folks are starting to take their much-deserved breaks. The DevNet datacenter networking team is no different. But before I sign off for a few weeks filled with lots of coffee and unneeded desserts, I’d like to talk about what new tools and goodies you can use to occupy your downtime over the next few weeks (or any time really). And if you’re interested in learning more, please register to attend my January 7th webinar, “Introduction to Terraform and ACI.”

In keeping with the holiday theme, here’s what’s new in the world of DCN and programmability (as well as a start of a Tom Davies Holiday Sandbox album):

Hashicorp is Coming to Town

Programmability and automation are all about making sure that you have both options for tooling, as well as the ability to make sure that you have the right tool for the job. The BE has been incredibly busy working through adding another option to the network programmability list: Terraform by HashiCorp allows for declarative programmability across cloud and on-prem resources using a simple syntax known as HashiCorp Configuration Language that leverages providers to compose HCL into actionable configuration.

The big news is that both Cisco ACI and the ACI Multi-Site Orchestrator (MSO) have had providers created and released! These providers allow for easy configuration of ACI, be it in the datacenter or in the cloud, using the same tooling that cloud and infrastructure DevOps teams are using today.

The GitHub links to each of the providers – which includes the code, usage, and a well-documented README – are hosted in the Cisco DevNet organization at the following links

No Place Like Learning Labs for the Holidays

While it’s amazing to have a new tool at your disposal, sometimes you need some help getting started using it. Terraform is no different; while the syntax of HCL quickly becomes natural, its new and can be a barrier to using the tool. However, DevNet has you covered (why would you think we didn’t?!)

Learning lab content has been developed (and more is on the way) to help you with understanding and using Terraform, both with ACI and MSO. As an added bonus, all of the Terraform labs will cover similar configuration constructs to the Ansible labs already present for ACI! This will allow you to easily make a “like for like” comparison between the two tools to figure out which one fits better into your workflow. Here are links to the first two learning labs, with more to come very shortly!

Sandboxes Running in an Open Datacenter

What good is new content if there is no accessible infrastructure to explore the code with? Its almost like expecting a gift, and upon opening the neatly wrapped box you discover its empty. We didn’t want to leave anyone feeling like that, so the DevNet Sandbox engineering team created a new, reservable lab, ACI Multi-Site Orchestrator Sandbox. This lab will provide you with a full ACI simulator, development workstation, and the latest ACI MSO image running on top of the Application Services Engine (ASE). The MSO is pre-initialized and connected to the ACI fabric, so you can make your first API call as soon as your VPN is connected!

Putting a Bow on it All

As you can see, there’s a lot of new stuff happening out there in the DC networking space, and sometimes it can be overwhelming to find it all. In order to centralize all of our resources, happenings, tools, and labs into a single place, our team has created an amazing web page for all things [Infrastructure as Code (IaC). This page will constantly be updated with new content, so make sure to bookmark it and add it to your browser tab rotation!

An easy way to learn more

Finally, if you are still stuck and need some help or inspiration to get started, I’ll be hosting a webinar, Introduction to Terraform and ACI on January 7th at 9:00AM PST. We’ll run through some of the resources I’ve covered here, as well as explain what Terraform is and why it works so well with ACI.

Register now for the live, January 7th webinar. In the meantime, stay safe and have a wonderful end to your year!

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