Workflow Automation/Integration
Feb 09, 2024

Forward Networks has teamed up with NetBox Labs to lower the barriers to adopting network automation

NetBox Labs, is the open-source startup behind NetBox, a tool designed specifically for network engineers and operators. It combines the functionalities of IP Address Management (IPAM) and Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) into a unified solution. With this relationship, Forward Enterprise and NetBox Cloud customers: The relationship includes a joint effort to build a bi-directional […]

NetBox Labs, is the open-source startup behind NetBox, a tool designed specifically for network engineers and operators. It combines the functionalities of IP Address Management (IPAM) and Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) into a unified solution. With this relationship, Forward Enterprise and NetBox Cloud customers:

  • Eliminate manual discovery and data entry: Leverage Forward Networks to automate “Day 1” discovery of networks and populate NetBox Cloud’s network data model, accelerating time to value.
  • Easily implement ongoing network assurance and validation: Integrate solutions from Forward Networks with NetBox Cloud as the Network Source of Truth.
  • Gain new insight for compliance checks: Leverage data from NetBox Cloud’s model to augment data in partner platforms, addressing key network observability and operations use cases such as compliance validation.

The relationship includes a joint effort to build a bi-directional integration between Forward Enterprise and NetBox. I’m thrilled to announce that the initial release of this integration has been published in this GitHub repository!!!

It enables customers to:

  • Onboard a NetBox instance by importing data discovered and collected by Forward Enterprise from the network using a provided Python script. In this initial integration, customers can export devices and interfaces from Forward into NetBox DCIM.
  • Import device data from NetBox such as role, tenant, and racks. Customers can then display this data in Forward applications (e.g., device cards) or use it to create verification and compliance checks.

Onboard a NetBox instance

Onboarding a NetBox instance can be achieved by utilizing the data discovered and collected from the network through the Forward platform. This process involves running the provided Python script available in the mentioned GitHub repository.

Fig. 1: Python script execution steps

The scripts performs the following actions:

  1. Retrieves Forward Devices and Interfaces using Forward NQE REST APIs
  2. Gathers information such as Sites, Device Types, Device Roles, Interface type, etc. from NetBox via REST APIs
  3. Translates the data from Forward into the NetBox schema
  4. Pushes Devices and Interfaces to NetBox via NetBox REST APIs

Here are two screenshots that display devices and interfaces imported into NetBox by the script:

Fig. 2: Devices imported to NetBox

Fig. 3: Interfaces imported to NetBox

Import device data from NetBox

This integration is designed for users who would like to import data stored in NetBox into Forward, either to display them in the Forward application or to create verification and compliance checks.

This integration did not require any development! It relies on features like External Sources import, NQE Queries, NQE Verifications, and NQE Decorators, which are available to all Forward customers. With Forward External Sources, customers can import data from any HTTP-based external application each time it collects information from the network infrastructure. Forward automatically infers the data schema from the imported data and stores it in NQE. Once in NQE, it can be used like any other data collected from the network.

The following screenshot shows a device card displaying data imported from NetBox:

Fig. 4: NetBox decorator

What’s next?

This is just the beginning of the collaboration between Forward Networks and NetBox Labs. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

Meanwhile, check out the GitHub repository and feel free to provide any feedback or, better yet, contribute with any enhancement!! Reach out to Forward Networks or NetBox Labs for more information. This marks just the beginning of the collaboration between Forward Networks and NetBox Labs. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

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Fabrizio Maccioni

Fabrizio Maccioni is the Director of Technical Marketing at Forward Networks. Fabrizio focuses on Network Device Programmability, Automation, and Application Hosting.

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