Automating Switch Deployment with NetSight

Deploying new switches into an existing environment can be tedious and sometimes labor intensive. Most of us have some master config files we use that we manually pull up and alter according to our needs. But it’s easy to miss things, and it just seems clunky. On top of that you have to make sure you get the right firmware as well. Recently, Extreme Networks added a cool feature to their NetSight Management Suite (Advanced license only) called Device Discovery. It works using some special DHCP options that any new Stackable (A, B, and C Series) or Core (K and S Series) will look for when set to factory defaults. The option simply tells the switch where your NetSight server is and then it shows up in NetSight OneView, which is NetSight’s web interface. Once a device is discovered, you can then push out any firmware you have in Inventory Manager, as well as applying a configuration. You can either deploy a configuration template, which are created in Inventory Manager, or you can deploy a configuration you have backed up from a failed device. It’s all easy to configure and after using it, I never want to ask a client to plug a switch into some random server’s serial port again! So here’s how you get it up and running. Configure Your DHCP Server The first step is to get the options configured on the scope you want to use for deployments. It’s important to note that you’re going to need to provide this VLAN untagged to your uplink ports. I guess you could setup a special set of ports just for deployment, but I’d like to be able to just send a tech out with a switch in the event of a failure without having to do any work ahead of time. Either way, it’s just a single option to your DHCP scope, option 125, with a Data Type of Binary. Most of my clients are using Windows for DHCP, so here’s the procedure to add the option.

  1. Open up the DHCP Management console.
  2. Right-Click the IPv4 node and select Set Predefined Options
  3. Select Add and fill out the Dialog like this: DHCP Option
  4. Select OK and close out the remaining dialog.
  5. Expand your DHCP scope, right-click on scope options, select Configure Options, and scroll down to the new option (125).
  6. For the Value, enter the following: 00 00 15 F8 = Vendor Identifying Class 06 = Total number of bytes 01 = The sub-option 1 SNMP Server IP 04 = Sub-option 1 is 4 bytes 0A 0A 40 08 = Hex value of your Netsight Server’s IP address ( in this example) Option Values

That’s all you need, now you can plug in any factory defaulted switch with newer firmware (8.11.x for Core, and 6.71.xx for Stackables) and it’ll pop right up in OneView, you can see the new switches under Devices > Discovered. Deploying a Previously Backed Up Configuration So, let’s say you have a switch that failed, you’ve RMAed it and the new one has arrived. Have one of your techs run out and install it, and wait for it to show up in NetSight. This will take about 60 seconds after it’s completed the normal boot process. Once it shows up, right-click it and select Load Configuration. You’ll be presented with options to upgrade the firmware and apply a configuration. For a failed device, you want to select Device and then select the failed device from the drop-down list. Recover Device Two important notes here, the only devices that show up in that list, are devices that NetSight has lost contact with, so you can’t deploy a configuration from a still active device with this. Also, in the event that something is misconfigured with your Inventory Manager and the firmware upgrade fails for whatever reason (in my case I had a file in the wrong directory), OneView will not in any way report that failure to you, it will just go on like everything is great. You can see the failure in the event logs but the actual deployment process doesn’t care, it just goes on with the configuration. Deploying a Configuration Template The process for this is very similar to a replacement switch, but first we need to create a template. You use Inventory Manager for that. So, fire up Inventory Manager, and select the Archive Mgmt tab. Find a backup file you want to use for your template and select it. The go to Tools > Create Configuration Template. By default, Inventory Manager will inform you that it’s replaced all instances of your Management IP with %ManagedIP%. This lets you define your management IP when you deploy the template. You can also go through and deploy whatever other variables you may want to use in the template by clicking Variables > Add. These are all arbitrary and up to you. I typically use the following: Create Template Then just go through the config file and replace the text with your variables where it applies. Select Save, and go back to OneView > Devices > Discovered. Right-click the discovered device and then Load Configuration. This time, choose Template, select your template and then select the appropriate SNMP profile. This is the SNMP profile that should be defined inside your configuration template. Then you’ll have the option to fill in the Variables you defined in the template. Deploy Template There you go, pretty easy right? Much better than the old copy/paste commands method, or uploading a config file after editing it manually… and it takes care of firmware at the same time! I’m hoping that Extreme will continue to expand the device subset this works on so I never have to plug a serial cable into a new switch again.

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