“We’re a winning business because we can deliver multiple services over a single connection and that’s entirely down to the Juniper platform. It’s been rock-solid with no issues whatsoever.”
-Tom O’Hagan, founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Virtual1
GVTC Communications is a telecommunications company that meets Texas-sized expectations as it serves the region north of San Antonio and the Gonzales area with unprecedented commitment. This company brought phone service to the Hill Country in 1951 when no other company would, and still continues to provide top-flight communications services and powerful technologies to residents and businesses. GVTC Communications’ goal is to connect their customers to the world through better technology. They provide leading-edge technologies, including, ultra-speed internet connections, digital TV, unlimited local and long distance calling, 24/7 security monitoring, home fiber optics network and business fiber optics network.
Seeking to expand its service area for gigabit services, GVTC needed broadband aggregation routers with higher port densities than what was available from its existing from previous vendor while conserving expensive IP addresses. GVTC looked towards the Juniper Networks ACX 5048 Universal Access Router, and the MX104 3D Universal Edge router to meet the growing demand for voice, data, internet and other digital services that helped the company expand its coverage area and ensure that its network continued to keep up with its customers’ high expectations. Being a leader in fiber broadband, GVTC knew it had an incredible reputation to uphold in being a technology leader. The Juniper routers GVTC deployed provided GVTC with a higher port density, robust MPLS feature set that its service relied on, including Internet, Layer 3 VPN, and VPLS, as well as Ethernet and IP traffic. The company believed that it would be able to reach its potential, and continue to grow with the MX2014 and make better use of their IPv4. GVTC swapped its existing routers with the ACX Series devices without a hitch as metro Ethernet access and aggregation solutions are ideal for cost effective services with robust support.
One of the top benefits of deploying Juniper routers according to Senior Network Engineer, Aaron Gould, is that the network is designed to be fault tolerant, so if one router shuts down or fails, the other carries the load. This feature comes at an important time as GVTC has recently expanded its gigabit fiber service in small communities to attract economic development. The redesigned network is easier to manage and less expensive to operate because GVTC no longer has to pay for costly monthly support which was a drain on the operating budget. The Junos operating system, the common OS running through all Juniper products ensures a shortened deployment time. This not only saves GVTC operating costs, but also gives the team an opportunity to manage Juniper Networks SRX Series Gateways which provide improved firewall services and advanced threat protection.
GVTC Communications and Juniper Networks share a common vision of challenging the status quo of products, solutions and services. GVTC is at the forefront of innovation as it delivers high performance and reliable communication services to customers in small communities. The network more efficient than ever, which has allowed GVTC to allocate its service where it can compete effectively with national service providers. The partnership of Juniper Networks has allowed for the continued success of GVTC communications by offering a redesigned network that is not only easier to manage and less expensive to operate, but also by ensuring quality services that exceed GVTC’s Texas-sized customer expectations.
Delta, was established in 1991 from a merger between Watermaatschappij Zuid West Nederland (WMZ) amd Provinciale Zeeuwse Energie Maatschappij (PZEM). Delta provides a unique combination of energy (gas, electricity) and digital services (internet, television and telephony). Since 2007, Delta has Juniper Networks routing solutions deployed for a direct connection to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), the largest internet exchange globally.
Following the growing demand for broadband connectivity and digital television, the network required an upgrade to 100Gbit/sec. For this Delta selected the Juniper Networks MX960, the SDN-ready 3D Universal Edge Router providing high performance, reliability, and scale.
Automation has been part of the network administrator’s tasks for a while now. In the same way that system engineers moved from SSH loops to more sophisticated tools years ago,
NetOps are now moving from rancid and expect scripts to more powerful and robust tools.
France-IX is the premier Internet peering service provider in France through its 11 carrier and data center neutral PoPs in Paris and Marseille. France-IX interconnects several hundreds of telecommunications carriers, ISPs, content providers, content delivery networks and many other Internet networks. These networks require improved network efficiencies and exceptional performance.
The challenge at France-IX is to manage the increased growth of traffic and meet our customers’ expectations. This is the reason why we looked at network automation from different angles: the first one is closer to the code, using Python and PyEZ, whereas the second is more abstracted, using Ansible.
Approach 1: Automation with Python and Junos PyEZ
In our current workflow, we use Python scripts with the Junos PyEZ library to push configuration on our equipment via Netconf. Junos PyEZ is known as the “Python library for Junos automation”: https://github.com/Juniper/py-junos-eznc. A good introduction article can be found here.
For example, in our current usage, all common configuration such as ntp, tacacs, syslog, firewall filters are committed this way to ensure consistency across the network. It also enables us to change some of the configurations quickly and efficiently by deploying snippets of configuration to set a device.
As you can see in the figure below, we use a server where we deployed the environment to push configuration via the OOBM network.
It is also possible to run a batch of commands (cli format not recommended). The objective is not to do configuration nor screen scraping of the output, but it can be helpful to check some counters, clear counters in a global fashion, or collect some specific data.
Some of the France-IX scripts and examples are available here.
In order to go even further, we could have chosen to use Jinja templates, render these templates with Python and commit the result as we did with PyEZ (some examples here). The alternative we decided to use at France-IX is Ansible.
Approach 2: Automation with Ansible
Ansible is an open-source orchestration software that automates software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment. It uses an agentless architecture, meaning nodes are managed by a controlling machine over SSH but do not need to install nor run software locally. Initially used for server management, additional functionalities have been added for network equipment management.
We use playbooks to express configurations, deployment, and orchestration in Ansible. Each playbook maps a group of hosts to a set of roles, each role is represented by calls to Ansible tasks. Documentation is available here.
There are currently two Ansible modules that can be used in order to manage Juniper Networks Junos OS devices. Even if they rely on Python scripts and library, you do not need to write Python.
The first module was developed by Juniper Networks (http://junos-ansible-modules.readthedocs.io/) and includes a multitude of features (from zeroize the device, install new Junos OS image, configure, run snapshot of configuration and tests). Some features are only available with this module.
The second module was developed by the Ansible team. Although limited in terms of features, it brings an interesting perspective because it respects the principle of idempotence (no matter how many times you run the instruction, the result will always be the same) and it is part of the core modules. Documentation is available here.
Both modules were used to automate the deployment of a test backbone with MPLS and EVPN during a three day hackathon organized by Juniper Networks in France in March 2017. Thanks to this set of playbooks, we could deploy the whole architecture (P and PE routers, plus a Route-reflector with ISIS, LDP, BGP and EVPN) on seven Juniper Networks virtual MX (vMX) in less than two minutes. We also took advantages of the XML output provided by XML-RPC invoked on the equipment to make live tests on the network, such as status of the physical interfaces, reachability of the loopbacks IP, ISIS and BGP adjacencies verifications. Lab setup, topology and examples are provided here.
As you can see, many things can already be achieved in a very elegant and fashioned way with these tools, in less time than one would expect. You are more than welcome to take a look at our examples.
At France-IX, the next step is to fetch data from our internal system based on Netbox in order to automate the provisioning of new customers during 2017. We are already thinking about other automation projects for 2018, so stay tuned!
About the Author
Arnaud Fenioux is currently a Network Engineer at France-IX, the premier Internet peering service provider in France. Responsible for network operations management from deployment to maintenance (MPLS/VPLS network, OOB network), he is deeply involved in automation projects related to customer provisioning and network deployments. Prior to France-IX, Arnaud held a similar role at the French regional IXP LyonIX and started his career in system and network administration with the ISP Claranet and artprice.com.
Arnaud holds his Master of Science from the French Engineering school ESEO in Angers. He gives regular talks at French universities and during industry conferences and is an active contributor to hackathons organized by RIPE Network Coordination Center and Juniper Networks, for example.
Learn how the largest privately owned TV production comany in the world is using Juniper Networks® QFX Series Ethernet Switches help scale out the delivery of high-quality TV and VOD contentRead more...
IP communication specialists utilise state-of-the-art core network in order to meet its customers’ demands.
Infopact was established in 1995 and serves more than 12,000 customers. Following the fast growth of its customer base, Infopact required a renewed solution for its core network infrastructure - one that is highly available, flexible and scalable, in a geo-redundant set-up to achieve maximum uptime.
Infopact consulted Juniper Networks’ Elite partner Infradata, and made the decision to select Juniper’s MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers and EX Series Ethernet switches. The solution has been deployed in five data centers..
Steven Klockaerts, operations director at Infopact explained, “Infradata provided a solution-driven approach. This resulted in the decision to choose Juniper Networks for its reliable, stable and easy to manage network technology. The flexibility and scalability provided by this solution provides a seamless fit with our current and future organization-structure.”
According to Infradata’s network lead Robbie van Rooijen, Juniper’s solution futureproofs many supporting services and protocols that Infopact might require in the future. Since all components run on Juniper Networks’ single operating system, Junos® OS, Infopact has benefited from an easy to manage network environment, only requiring two system engineers. The migration was undertaken outside business hours, which assured that Infopact customers were not impacted.
A2B Internet operates in 16 different data centers across the Netherlands, providing solutions within and between data centers for internet service providers, web, cloud and hosting companies. We can provide a complete BGP environment for our customers, including address and routing management.
Convergence time is critical for us. Things change in the internet all the time, but if a link goes down the most important thing is fast convergence of routes, and our equipment was beginning to struggle with the ever-growing scale of the Internet routing tables. Our technical team has a long history of working with Juniper, at other service providers and system integrators. We knew that Juniper’s MX Series could deliver the routing scale we needed, combined with very fast convergence times and a rich set of software features.
We built our new solution using Juniper Networks® virtual MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers. The virtual MX is a full-featured, carrier grade router with complete control, forwarding and management planes that run the Junos operating system on standard servers. We’d seen the virtual MX in the lab, but we decided to move it right into the production network. It gave us all the experience and the stability of MX Series and the Junos operating system in a state of the art virtual package.
We run the vMX on a virtual KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), which is an open source hypervisor, on a dedicated bare metal HP server running the Linux Unbuntu operating system. The server allows the vMX to address the network card directly from the virtual environment, using the SR-IOV integration in the Intel Networking Cards. This removes the lag you might normally expect in a virtual environment, so you can have a high-speed interface in a virtual router. And we had the whole system up and running in a couple of hours.
We also found the implementation of IPv6 very straightforward, and actually set up and tested the system using IPv6, before switching our IPv4 services over to the new virtual platform. We now use the vMX routers for all of our Internet-facing connections, and use a 10G physical switched environment for internal distribution.
The whole project went very smoothly and we didn’t hit any issues that related to the Juniper software. Virtualizing the routers is an ideal solution for our customers, who typically don’t require 100Gbps throughput but still want to multi-home their BGP environment. Most importantly, the vMX has drastically improved our internet routing table convergence times. Now we can converge in three-to-four seconds. Even full transit sessions can be changed in seconds, giving our customers a much faster resolution in case of BGP flaps or network problems - and customers notice that. In fact, we get even faster convergence that we’d expect from a dedicated hardware system, because with the vMX, we can scale the routing table convergence independently from the underlying hardware platform.
Now we’re hosting true multi-homed environments for our customers, using multiple vMXs to create an ‘ISP in a box’, with multiple transits, homing and routers and everything virtualized in software running on off-the-shelf hardware. Another benefit of virtualization is the ability to operate several virtual routers on a single physical server – so they can be easily upgraded independently of one another. The software-based Juniper routers allow us to provide a fully virtualized ISP solution. And we get exactly the same software as the established hardware platforms with 20 years of software development behind them. So now we have extremely fast convergence, a highly stable environment, one that enables automation, with painless IPv6 deployment, and it’s cost-effective. For us, this has been much more than just another network upgrade.
To find out more about A2B Internet, click here.