Thursday, June 18, 2015

NetBrain Blew My Mind! #TFDx #CLUS

Many moons ago I was a Network Administrator who managed static IP addresses by consulting the critical IP Networks Excel Spreadsheet. I had to find a free Windows based app which would show me a diff view of two switch configurations during the 15 day trial window. I had to create network diagrams in Visio which never included the information I needed when I was troubleshooting an issue with the very same network which I had previously drawn. I remember the Senior Network Administrator being very leery of software monitoring solutions which monitored by polling the network devices. At the time, I imagined that any additional load on our network devices would cause the whole network to suffer under the load of  any additional monitoring traffic.

This brings me to the software demonstration I witnessed last week. The CEO and founder of NetBrain described the very same way of working which I had lived (albeit thirteen years ago). He then went onto have Ben Abbot (Pre-Sales Engineer) perform a demonstration of their current software product: NetBrain Enterprise Edition.

With my very own eyes, I saw things that I did not know were possible. I saw network diagrams created on demand to show the information necessary to troubleshoot any given network issue. I saw network documentation automated and annotated by multiple network administrators. I saw Qapps written to solve immediate troubleshooting issues by someone who was not a programmer and did not have a programming/scripting/coding background.

I kept my amazement to myself. It had been so long since I had been in charge of a network, surely all of these things were now possible with any number of software solutions. The room stayed quiet. I could not tell if others were as impressed as I, or if they were thinking "Yep, business as usual."

As it turns out, everyone in the room was just as impressed as I was. Maybe they were all shocked into silence in the same way that I was. After all, the NetBrain application they showed us has been 10 years in the making and has 5 million lines of C++ code to make performing complicated tasks seem that simple.

At CiscoLive 2015, NetBrain released their first free DevOps Edition of the NetBrain software. The limit to the free software is that it can only map up to 10 devices. 

As it stands now, Network Engineers are being forced to learn REST API scripting (among others) to do SDN troubleshooting. This free version of software is designed to ease the transition for the Network Administrator to manage the network here and now.