DYK… Netbox is excellent for tracking infrastructure resources?
What is Netbox?
NetBox is an open-source infrastructure resource modeling (IRM) application. It is the leading solution for modeling and documenting modern infrastructure, available as open source software under the Apache 2.0 license.
It was designed to empower network automation, providing the single “source of truth” by combining IP address management (IPAM) and datacenter infrastructure management (DCIM) with powerful APIs and extensions.
It is employed by a multitude of organizations around the world, and covers the following aspects of network management:
- IP address management (IPAM) – IP networks and addresses, VRFs, and VLANs
- Equipment racks – Organized by group and site
- Devices – Types of devices and where they are installed
- Connections – Network, console, power, cable connections among devices
- Virtualization – Virtual machines and clusters
- Data circuits – Long-haul communications circuits and providers
What it is NOT
To ensure that development focuses on core functionality and that scope creep is reasonably contained, NetBox’s feature set is limited. While it attempts to cover many areas of network management, here is a list of functionalities are NOT provided by NetBox.
- Network monitoring
- DNS server
- RADIUS server
- Configuration management
- Facilities management
How it works
NetBox’s architecture consists of “Modules”. These are individual pieces of functionality that NetBox possesses. If needed, modules can be added to increase NetBox’s overall capacity and these can also be set to “on” or “off” depending on the situation.
There is a primary NetBox module, which supplies both the database schema and the web interface. Other modules provide a variety of other functionalities like the management of IP addresses, device inventories, etc.
NetBox was developed using Python as the programming language, and it makes use of the popular Django web framework. You can use a variety of deployment tools like Docker, Vagrant, and Ansible to run Netbox.
Netbox’s data model intends to reflect a real-world network as accurately as possible. For this purpose, IP addresses are assigned to the specific interfaces attached to a device (instead of just to devices). However, an interface can have multiple IP addresses assigned to it.
NetBox aims to represent the desired state of a network versus its operational state. Therefore, it is important to ensure the integrity of all data created in NetBox by having it vetted by a human first. Only after that, it can be used to populate monitoring and provisioning systems with a high degree of confidence. Automated import of live network state is not recommended.
Why is it important?
The data mode is the dataset that represents the network state.
With increased complexity, the need for an accurate data model also increases. The standardized data model (a.k.a. the single Source of Truth) should be part of every network team, including operations, development and architecture.
Automating data management is crucial to keep track of changes in states, especially when we are talking about thousands of network devices that can have hundreds of minor changes monthly, where a spreadsheet is not enough to keep track of said changes.
Here is where NetBox comes to play, as a way to create a single point of truth that breaks down data silos, empowering network automation.
NetBox proves to be a great tool for tracking infrastructure resources in modern network equipment.
It offers a reliable and customizable solution for effectively tracking and automating resources in today’s complex infrastructures.
NetBox ensures all teams stay ahead of the challenges posed by evolving infrastructure and hardware and paves the way for efficient and automated lifecycle management.