At some point, all networks deploy devices on a small or large scale. This could be a result of network expansions, device replacements due to end-of-life, vendor changes, hardware upgrades, and even cases of replacing faulty or failed devices. Below are a few tips that can help you simplify the process of configuring devices and getting them up and running.
#1 Create an inventory of existing and new devices: Prior to device deployment, it’s important to perform a detailed inventory of all devices in your network—including new devices awaiting induction into the network. This not only helps meet compliance requirements, but helps the network engineer stay in control by knowing what devices are in operation and those nearing end-of-life. Maintaining an up-to-date inventory helps you make informed decisions rather than taking actions based on speculations. Device serial numbers, interface and port details, IP addresses, ARP tables, installed software, and other details are recorded and updated.
#2 Backup and archive all device configurations: Ensure that all device configurations have been backed up. With device replacements, instead of creating the new configuration from scratch, the backed up configuration can be uploaded onto the new device. This reduces network downtime and speeds up the deployment process. Pushing configurations from an archive or backup is convenient and useful especially when the configuration involves many devices.
#3 Create baseline templates for new devices and enable SNMP and Flow technologies: While preparing new devices for the network, create base configurations and prepare the device for deployment. In some cases, it might be a good idea to baseline the entire network. These baseline configurations may be archived for future use as well. Once you complete the initial configuration, you can make specific changes to devices within the configuration to achieve the running configuration. As the base scripts are ready and uploaded onto the device, enable technologies like SNMP, NetFlow, JFlow, and SFlow whichever may be appropriate for the type of device that is being used.
#4 Mount devices and deploy device configurations: Once the devices are physically mounted and plugged-in to the network, you can begin to deploy device-specific configurations. You can apply these configurations to the required devices individually or in bulk to a set of devices.
#5 Ensure devices run smoothly and revert changes in case of an issue: Once your configuration is up and running, check all operational aspects on the network to make sure that there are no hiccups. In the event of a setback or a problem in the network, revert to an earlier state and cancel the deployment changes. If your device management software gives you the option of rolling back your configuration changes, you can quickly fix issues due to a bad change. Additionally, check for any policy violations or non-compliances and fix them before more things go wrong.
These are a few important aspects that are must-haves on your device deployment checklist. Do share with us your views and comments on this topic.