What is difference – network automation / configuration management

There are lots of network automation tools around. But do you know what is the difference of each tools? I’m going to introduce what you can achieve with each tools.

First of all, I want to classify this network automation into three categories:

  1. Network Operation Automation … in the old days, you need to log in to each devices via ssh / telnet to change configuration. Tools in this category aims to automate these processes.
  2. Configuration Management … this includes not only version management(e.g. RANCID, Oxidized), but also host grouping(e.g. AS numbers)
  3. Service Management … In the previous categories, each configurations are stored separately. In this category, configuration is separated into each services(e.g. snmp-community, ntp server settings) rather than each device. You can control all the devices by services.
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Install NAPALM

Using vendor proprietary API is usually a good option if you have only a few vendor to deal with. But It’s very time consuming, and some vendors don’t have those in-built API.

I have numbers of customers to take care, and there are their own demands. There is no one-fit-all network devices, hence I need to take care several vendors. Definitely I cannot be the master of all the network devices, but it’s a key how I can decrease the time taken by routine tasks(e.g monitoring interface stats) so that I can use other time to concentrate customer specific requirement.

Install NAPALM


NAPALM is registered in PyPI, so all you need to do is just use pip to install along with all the dependencies.

Documentation can be found here.

And you can get the interfaces’ ip address with small script as follows:

And output is as follows:

The beauty of this script is:

  • It doesn’t require IOS device to be configured with restconf nor netconf, just needs to be accessible via ssh.
  • It can retrieve other vendors device information if you change ‘ios’ to other platform, such as ‘fortios’.