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How inventory works in HP Network Automation software

MichaelProcopio ‎10-09-2014 10:17 AM - edited ‎11-04-2014 10:56 AM

Network inventory is a basic requirement of most IT shops. As they say, “It is hard to manage your resources, if you don’t know what you have.”

This is the specialty of network management software. And HP has two products that specialize in providing an inventory of your network devices. For network automation we offer HP Network Automation (NA) and HP Network Node Manager i series (NNMi) helps improve network uptime.  

NA handles the operational lifecycle of network devices—from provisioning to policy-based change management, compliance, and security administration. The automation part of the name comes from the fact that inventory and most operations can be automated—such as changing passwords.

Both tools can create an inventory, but they work best in tandem. If both are installed, the best practice is to have NNMi discover initially and pass the information over to NA. In my previous post I covered NNMi. In this post I’ll cover the functionality of NA.

 

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While the best practice when both products are installed is to have NNMi feed NA, NA has its own discovery for standalone applications as well as for feeding information back to NNMi. Unlike NNMi which is always discovering new devices, (assuming they are connected to an already known network device) NA discovery is done by running a task. The task can be scheduled to run on a periodic basis.

 

NA Detect Network Devices Task

 

Detecting network devices enables you to locate devices on your network that you want to place under NA management. Once you provide a range of IP addresses, NA scans your network looking for devices. Newly discovered devices are automatically added, along with the appropriate NA device drivers. In addition, if the “Primary IP Address Reassignment” option is checked on the Administrative Settings — Server page, NA automatically assigns the correct IP address to a device if the device has multiple IP addresses and interfaces. Consequently, a device is only entered into the system once.

NA can use one of two scanning methods SNMP which is the default and Nmap. NA also discovers what is referred to as context which are devices within a device such as modules, slots and ports.

 

If you select Driver Discovery on the task page, after NA adds the device to the system, it polls the device to see what type of device it is and subsequently assigns the appropriate device driver to manage the device. NA then takes a snapshot of the device and downloads the configuration and asset information from the device into the database.

 

For unsupported hosts, ones where NA has no device driver, a group is also created and added to the system (Inventory group). To make sure that unsupported devices are not added as active (and therefore count toward the device's license) and to prevent any operation performed against Inventory that would include these devices, all devices from unsupported hosts are set to inactive by default. (Note: you can write your own device drivers).

 

After device discovery is run, NA then runs tasks to discover modules and VLANs as well as taking a snapshot of the devices parameters or settings.

 

In addition to Detect Network Devices, any time you add a device to the system, it will be reported to the inventory.

 

 

Once in inventory there are a number of display pages you can use to view various levels of detail.

 

  • Inventory view – shows the device level, which includes:
    • Host name
    • Device IP
    • Device vendor
    • Device model
    • Partition the device is assigned to, if any exist
  • Device details page which allows you to see:
    • Host name
    • Device IP
    • Device description
    • Fully qualified domain name
    • Service type - the NA-defined and user-defined service types associated with the device
    • Vendor
    • Model
    • Device Family - a device family is a collection of devices that share a similar configuration CLI command syntax
    • Driver name
    • Serial number
    • Asset tag
    • System memory
    • Location
    • Management Status
    • VTP domain - the VLAN Trunking Protocol (VTP) domain name
    • VTP operating mode - the VLAN Trunking Protocol (VTP) operating mode
    • NNMi associations - a list of the NNMi management servers integrated with NA
  • Other pages which I won’t detail for brevity are:
    • ACLs – access control lists
    • Device interfaces
    • Device IP addresses
    • MAC addresses
    • Device VLANs
    • VTP details page
    • Device Blade/Modules
    • Device Configurations

There are also search facilities so that you don’t have to navigate manually.

 

As you can see NA keeps a very detailed inventory of devices and their configurations. Configurations are not kept by NNMi which is one of the reasons the two work better together.

 

Learn more about HP Network Automation here

 

About the Author

MichaelProcopio

HPE Software Product Marketing. Over 20 years in network and systems management.

Comments
Inventory Software
on ‎10-13-2014 04:02 AM

I like your article Your take on this topic is well-written and original. I would never have thought of this.

 

Inventory Software
on ‎11-14-2014 11:32 PM

Your article is extremely well-written. This is great informational content from my point of view. You also make many valid points with compelling, unique content.

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