This set of release notes reflects the work in progress. Each of these items will become available with the next release and will be made available in the Download Patchfiles article.
The 7.2.0 release has three main topics that are new or fully renewed. The main item of this release is the 'Compliance' function. Compliance here refers to determining if a device configuration conforms to the policies defined for it. After every configuration change of a device, the compliance policies are executed and the appropriate reports and/or signalling is generated. Compliance policies are completely customizable and are unlimited in number. Each Policy consists of a number of rules which in turn use conditions.
Compliance relies on having access to the latest device configuration. This task befalls to the reworked NetYCE 'NCCM' (Network Change and Configuration Management) that is now equipped to respond to syslog and Snmp-trap messages from devices to collect their configurations on demand.
Designed to be a high-performance and high-capacity Compliance function, this first release is very complete in all its capabilities on configuration validations. The three-tier definition levels of Policies, Rules and Conditions allow for multi-vendor policies that can cope with extensive condition-logic to deal with any design or specific constraints.
A second Compliance release is already undergoing tests and will amongst other functions extend the configuration rules with state rules where the information returned by commands is used.
Another new feature worth mentioning are the 'System events', the self-monitoring system that informs front-end users and NMS environment of changes in the NetYCE database availability and replication status. Additional system monitors will be added with the next releases.
Furthermore, a wide variety of enhancements to scenario functions and service-types were realized. More information is included below.
The new Compliance is build to work alongside the rebuild NetYCE NCCM. NCCM is basically providing a configuration backup function that is optimized to maintain a full history of all configuration changes. As before, an ultrafast reporting browser allows to find configuration changes between any two points in time.
Where the previous NCCM releases could either periodically poll all configurations or retrieve them as part of (scheduled) NetYCE jobs, the new NCCM engine integrates with a syslog and Snmp-trap receiver to get informed of a configuration change by the network devices directly. But it is also possible to feed the NCCM from an existing set of syslog receivers using forwarding. The NCCM events reader is fully configurable and will perform tasks like de-duplication and reverse DNS-resolving.
NCCM is available for an unlimited number of devices requiring no licenses as the NCCM works for all nodes defined in the CMDB. All that is required is that these nodes are assigned a supported NetYCE vendor-type and a 'domain' that defines the login credentials. Any modelled 'YCE'-nodes (created using service-types) are naturally also supported by the NCCM.
To set-up the periodic configuration retrieval for NCCM, the user creates 'Polling groups'. A polling group consists of either a static list of named nodes or a set of 'Node-groups'. Node-groups can use multiple rules using criteria to include or exclude nodes based on their attributes. These groups are dynamic in nature as they automatically find their members. Larger networks will likely benefit from dynamic groups as they will simplify maintenance for new or obsoleted devices.
The Compliance front-end defaults with a dashboard view that graphically shows what percentage of the compliance-tested configurations are valid or not. As each compliance Rule is assigned a severity and the highest failing Rule severity determines the non-compliance rating, the graph uses different colours for each severity. A single glance at the dashboard thus reveals the volume, which policies, and the seriousness of any non-compliance issues. Severities can be fully customized but by default four severity levels are used.
For more details on the executed policies and their results the compliance reporting is used. Reports can be defined ad-hoc or saved for repeated usage. Results are available in the font-end for review and download, or can be executed and retrieved using API calls.
Each policy can be configured to send notifications on status changes using Syslog, Snmp-traps, Rest-API, emails or a combination of these. All notification types are configurable to suit the customer environment.
To facilitate using a test or acceptance environment to create new policies, they can be individually exported and imported into other NetYCE systems. Also HPNA policies can be directly imported.
As with NetYCE modelled nodes Compliance requires a license for each node. By default a license for one node is always active. These licences can be assigned individually to any YCE or CMDB node with NCCM configuration entries.
The upcoming phase-2 release of Compliance will add enhancements like periodic policy scheduling and command rules (to check cli responses). This release will also include a generic rule type to compare sections of one configuration to similar sections in the configuration of group members. Useful to validate configurations of paired devices.
Both NCCM and Compliance are designed to operate in a multi-server environment. Similar in setup for the distributed scheduling of command jobs, the NCCM and Compliance tasks can be directed to specific NetYCE servers for groups of nodes based on their attributes. The setup also allows for creating dedicated NCCM and Compliance servers if so desired.
NetYCE has been using redundant databases from the start to allow for hot-standby and failover database access. This allowed for transparent user-access during maintenance or partial outages. Since severe outages could cause replication conflicts requiring manual maintenance, it was felt that an external signalling of these situations was desired.
The new 'System events' function is essentially a self-monitoring system that can inform local and remote users on system status changes. The System events maintains a status for each monitoring function. Currently three monitors are active:
Notification of system-events to the local users is incorporated in the GUI. A separate header bar with a descriptive message will be displayed for each monitor. A colour coding is used to indicate its severity. A user can close each notification bar individually for the duration of the session (or event re-occurrence, or browser page-reload). The customization allows to change which user-roles are notified before or after login.
To signal external users or systems, notifications can be sent using Syslog, Snmp-traps, Rest-API or email. Its setup is very similar to the compliance signalling and can be fully customized.
System events can be manually cleared using the 'Admin - System status' tool. Please be aware that the monitors and the GUI only intermittently test the status. Notifications to set or clear a status can exhibit a delay of two to ten minutes.
Additional system monitors will be added in subsequent releases. Expect notifications for licensing issues, disk space availability and others.
To extend the functionality of scenarios several new functions were added.
A new command line tool is now included in the distribution that can assist in database troubleshooting should it seem incompatible with the NetYCE code. This tool,
ck_tabledef.pl, will verify that each database table is defined as the latest distribution expects it to be. Should update patches have failed or skipped and the incremental updates seem 'broken' this tool will report it. The tool can also be used to make the required alterations to ensure the table definitions are up-to-date.
Over the years several database versions of MySQL/MariaDB have come into production. When restoring a database form one version to another incompatibilities could be experienced requiring a manual conversion. Unfortunately, when a NetYCE database was restored on a database engine of an older revision than the database, these conversions failed.
The restore tools were modified in two ways to deal with these version issues. First, attempting to restore a newer version database on an older database engine will be detected before the restore and will be denied. Secondly, when detecting that an older database is restored on a newer database engine will automatically perform the conversion needed.
From the 'Ports' overview form of a node, two options exists to update the ports: 'Update from Node' and 'Update from Template'. These buttons are used to change the ports of the node using the port definitions on another node or the node template respectively. The update has many selectable options on what items are changed or added.
Users found that one option was missing from the selection: the option NOT to remove the ports that were already defined but not present in the new layout. This option has been added to both update forms.
All port definitions now have an additional attribute that sets the Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) profile. In the font-end, the form uses a drop-down menu from which to select the PoE profile name. These names can be defined in the Lookup using the class 'PoE_profiles'.
These profile names can be translated into configurations using templates in the regular fashion. When it is desired to parameterize the profiles, a set of Lookup variables can be created using the PoE profile-name as class. This setup allows for a fully customizable PoE profile design.
Template-, Relation- and Scenario-names can be used as references in many different sections of NetYCE. Template names are used in other Templates, in Scenarios or in Stored Jobs. Likewise can Relation and Scenario names be used in these contexts.
Potentially, the deletion of an assumed safe-to-delete Template can cause some configurations to fail or relations to produce expected results, effectively 'breaking' a work flow.
To prevent these unwelcome situations, any delete of Template, Scenario or Relation will now verify if any reference to its name is still in place. If it is, a popup will report on all references found and will deny the delete. This report includes details on where the reference is found including line number and the actual line of text where it is found.
o new Service-type to add Mpls_vrf while finding next free Vrf_id o new service-type 'Add - Vrf - Mpls_vrf' o new service-type st_add_mplsvrf_new() for 'ADD - MPLS_VRF - VRF_ID_NEW'
o change service-type add_custom_subnet() to support custom subnet-plan vlan-id & vlan-tpl
o improved the performance of node-groups by maintaining a cache of the calculated groups after a node update
o scenario function 'send_email' now also can send (scheduled) custom reports
o A new button has been added to the service type form that allows you to duplicate service type records
o created MROTEK vendor module
o added support for configurable http proxies for the session-cookies
The scenario functions 'csv_report' and 'csv_file' support the new '-x' option that allows the generated report to be appended to the report-file instead of overwriting should it already exist.
Syntax highlighting for Scenarios and Templates have been improved.
The configurations are normally retrieved from the nodes (jobs, nccm poll). But sometimes it could be desired to upload a configuration directly into the NCCM. For example when a node configuration cannot be retrieved directly and a NCCM report or Compliance check is required anyway.
The nccm_submit API call allows you to create an NCCM entry for a node as the 'latest' configuration. To submit a configuration the node must exist as either a CMDB node or as an YCE node.
Command parsing tables now also includes the use of anchors for multi-word matches. For example <brackets_match:)>
As an extension on the “Dependency checks on delete” enhancement, the confirmation popup behaviour was modified. When deleting Templates, Template revisions, Scenarios, and Relations now first check whether there are jobs, scenarios or templates that reference them. If there are, you won't be able to delete unless you have manager or system permissions.
The dependency report was extended for the Main- and Port-templates with the node names that still use them. To prevent useless long reports, the list of dependencies for each type is truncated at 10 entries at which point a count of additional dependencies is given.
The delete-override that is default for managers and system users can be modified by updating the Auth_permission table as decsribed on the NetYCE Wiki.
Vlan ranges in HP C7 and Cisco IOS configs (for example 22 25-30 32) are now expanded for config parsing, so you can parse all of them (therefore including 26,27,28,29), similar to Huawei and Ciena for which this function already existed.
Updating NetYCE systems involve software code updates and changes to the databases. The latter uses patches that perform specific modifications to the database definitions or its data. To allow for upgrades that can jump any number of versions or build numbers, these patches are created to be incremental.
As skipping or failing to install a patch properly will cause the upgrade path to potentially be 'broken', it is essential that all patches are executed properly. After encountering several instances where this has happened, we modified the patch management to be more strict and also more persistent in ensuring the proper patches are incorporated.
When performing updates tests are executed to verify all patches, including those of older versions, are present. If any older patch failed or was skipped, it will be attempted again.
In addition to this change in the patch management a database definition verification tool is now included in the distribution.
After completing an update or making changes to the setup, most of the NetYCE daemon processes running in the background are restarted. As these include the http-server (apache) and the back-end-servers (mojo and xch) that serve the GUI, the user that initiated the operation using the GUI would experience that the process never seemed to finish. Although the process did complete normally it was the restarting of these GUI servers that prevented the information reaching the user.
To prevent this situation, the method of restarting these three daemons was changed to allow the transactions to finish before a process would end and get relaunched. These so called 'hot-deploy' restarts avoid downtime and interrupted transactions.
o wider columns for Node name, Service-type, Service-name, Relation name, Port_descriptions, SiteVP (now 50 or 100 char)
o added mpls-vrf licences plus enforcing
When including sub-templates in templates, the lines generated by these sub-templates are substituted directly where the sub-template is called. The resulting configuration will include the lines, but literally. Any indentation (using leading spaces) would only result in the first line being offset by the spaces before the template name but not any other.
To allow the use of indented sub-templates, the code generator was modified to detect if a sub-template was included using indentation. If only spaces are used before the sub-template name, these spaces are used as a prefix for all lines the sub-template generates. When other characters are used before the sub-template, the substitution will be done in-line without prefixes.
The Command-job and View-config tools were modified to show the corresponding indentation levels.
The scenario function to send emails,
send_email, was recently extended to support
attachments. The change also included a syntactic validation of the email addresses.
It now became apparent that this email validation was too strict resulting in an empty list of recipients with the error message “No email-address to send mail to”. This situation has been corrected.
Service-types can be executed using the XCH API, the CSV API, Scenarios (jobs) and using the front-end. Especially when an error occurred using the API's or the Scenario was the error handling insufficient to abort the remainder of the actions. This situation has been corrected.
When editing a Service-type where an IPv6 subnet is to be created, the help menu to choose from the available IPv6 subnets in the supernets would show the subnets of the IPv4 supernet plans, not of the IPv6 supernets. This has been corrected.
A running Service-type could crash (abort) when an IPv6 subnet is to be created. A missing or incorrect IPv6 value was often the cause. By adding validations and corresponding error-messages, the user is informed of the failed variable and the Service-type is halted gracefully.
To improve performance and resilience several LOGS and NCCM tables are maintained as weekly database tables which are combined into 'merger' tables to report on the full retention period. This mechanism was introduced tome time ago and proved very successful. However, this method also proved to be very sensitive to changes in the Mysql/MariaDB version.
To further enhance the resilience the various 'merge' tables are tested after the daily maintenance which will then trigger an auto-repair should it prove necessary. This repair entails a (week-)table by table export, table-creation and import to ensure compatibility with the running database engine.
Downloading a CSV formatted report always showed the last field of the last record to be quoted. This was corrected.
In a multi-server NetYCE environment two databases are used that provide failover and hot-standby redundancy using a master-master replication schema. In this setup, a database replication issue was traced back to a specific SQL statement that caused the replication mode to switch from statement-based to record-based. And although correctly processed, this mode caused a record to be duplicated where it should not.
The main consequence was that the Job-id's or Task-id's generated were no longer unique. The individual logs were lost until the duplicate record was manually deleted.
The responsible SQL statements were re-developed to ensure the replication mode would remain statement-based.
The scenario 'relation' function can use variables from the scenario to pass on the the relation query for substitution. The variable substitution was modified to be more reliable.
A NetYCE VM (virtual machine) running on a (laptop) hypervisor like VirtualBox or VMware can be configured so its web front-end can be reached using its DNS-name or its IP-address. Due to security constraints enforced by browsers (cross-domain requests) the NetYCE configuration must be explicitly set to the one OR the other mode.
When using the less often used IP-based NetYCE server setup some (download) links found in the various tools would still appear to use the DNS-based setup. It was found that the http(s) server needed some modification to ensure it did not alter the IP-address into its dns name (referrer).
Several fixes were applied to make the scenario 'parse_cmd', 'parse_nccm', 'parse_run' functions more reliable
NetYCE supports two types of nodes, the YCE-nodes that are modelled and created using Service-types, and CMDB nodes that have minimal modelling. The OS-upgrade tool that previously supported both node types had stopped functioning for the CMDB nodes. This functionality has been restored.
The NetYCE Vendor-module 'HP_C5' could fail (configuration) file transfers without indication to what caused it. This was resolved by adding error messages related to file-transfers.
NetYCE supports several file-transfer protocols. Only the traditional 'tftp' does not use any authentication. For the other protocols (ftp, sftp, scp) a NetYCE-only user account is used for the authentication. To prevent this reserved user-account to be used out-of-context, the job logs will be censored for the authentication information for non-privileged users.
When the IP-address of a system is changed due to DHCP or net_setup modifications, the system would not reconfigure itself properly. Even though the all configuration changes were processed and daemons properly restarted, the system would not update the database connection.
The issue was traced to a modification in the database monitoring for version 7.2.0 which has now been corrected. When executing net_setup, the IP-address change is now properly activated for all database access.