Reducing Provisioning from Weeks to Minutes with Junos
Jul 16, 2014
Network provisioning is a key component of the chain of network operations in the data center—in fact, it is the foundational first step towards building an effective data center for the modern enterprise network.
Unfortunately, network provisioning tends to be a tedious, highly manual process that can take days, if not weeks, to complete. Additionally, provisioning requires the expertise of highly trained professionals, making it vulnerable to human error. As a result, the network has become a bottleneck for many organizations, preventing them from deploying robust, agile, and highly responsive data center infrastructures.
The Answer: Zero Touch Provisioning
Juniper’s Junos Operating System removes the human element by automating the provisioning process with a feature called Zero Touch Provisioning, or ZTP. By eliminating the need for human intervention, ZTP allows network administrators to simply plug in devices, connect the cables and walk away. The Junos software does the rest, automatically retrieving the image and configuration data devices need to get up and running on their own.
How ZTP Works
ZTP dramatically reduces the time required to provision the data center network and virtually eliminates the risk of human error. Network admins simply load the device image and configuration files in a central location, typically a DHCP or a TFTP server; when a device is racked and powered on, it sends out a DHCP request to locate, download and install the software. Thanks to ZTP, the device is fully operational in minutes—withno human intervention. This process is repeatable and can be customized for different devices.
What does this mean to the user? Consider a data center with 1,000 switches. Typically, provisioning these devices would require hundreds of thousands of lines of configuration entered through a CLI—a process that would take days for even for the most efficient network administrator.
With ZTP, these tasks can be completed in the time it takes to configure a single DHCP server, since the switches automatically receive their image and configuration instructions as soon as they boot up. Since ZTP requires fewer CLIs, the risk of human error is also dramatically reduced, ensuring less network downtime. ZTP is a highly effective way to reduce costs associated with provisioning data centers and preventing problematic outages.
Flexible ZTP Options
For customers who want to exercise more control over the provisioning process—say by installing node-locked licenses or registering devices in a central database with key running parameters—the Junos ZTP feature offers flexible configuration options.
As part of the ZTP process, Junos fetches the file configured in the DHCP options and scans it to determine whether it’s a script or a configuration file. If it’s a configuration file, ZTP loads it on the device. If it’s a script, ZTP executes the same using the interpreter given in the file. This could be a shell, slax or even a python script subject to the support available on the platform.
Such a script could specify “who” the device is, based on any number of parameters. In some cases, it could be based on querying the uplink it’s connected to and determining which rack the device is in. It would then register the device in a central database and set up monitoring tasks—all with “zero manual intervention."
Thanks to Zero Touch Provisioning, Junos helps automate, simplify and accelerate the data center provisioning process while reducing the risks associated with manual processes—a win-win for any organization.