In a previous blog post I showed how to utilize Python to create a script that will generate network configurations from templates utilizing Jinja2. While the solution did work, creating scripts from scratch using a programming language can be a daunting task for network engineers. Luckily for us, there are already tools in place that we can leverage to do the heavy lifting for us. Today we will look at Ansible to generate network device configurations from templates.
Git is one of the most popular version control systems out today. With network automation and scripting becoming more and more popular, there needs to be a way to store and track changes made to scripts and configuration files. Not only will Git allow you to do that, but it can also help collaborate with colleagues (via a private Git system) or with the rest of the world (GitHub). GitHub is a site that you can go to and upload your own creations, as well as browse through the work of others. GitHub is built on Git. Let’s go ahead and dive right into the world of Git and GitHub. First, I will upload the code I created in my last post, and after that I will download some code written by Ivan Pepelnjak and shared on his GitHub page.
Network automation and programmability is one of the hot topics in networking today. It is one area that I want to focus on this year and become very familiar with. One of the best resources that I found was the book “Network Programmability and Automation, 1st Edition” by Jason Edelman, Scott Lowe, and Matt Oswalt. Although it is only available in a pre-release (incomplete) version, if you have a Safari Books subscription I highly recommend checking it out. This book not only is extremely easy to ready, but it gives the high level ideas and theory that I feel is desperately needed for us network engineers. This whole programming idea is foreign to a lot of us, and just jumping right into coding can be a very daunting and intimidating task. This book is what gave me the clarity to feel confident enough to dive into automation.
In this blog post I will utilize a code example from the book that will allow you to automate network configuration templates. We will be using Python, Jinja2, and YAML. It is easy, low hanging fruit that will allow you to get your feet wet, and at the same time actually put this whole progamming and automation to practical use that every engineer can relate to.