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Operations

6/4/2019
12:00 PM

7 Container Components That Increase a Network's Security

A proof of concept at Interop19 showed just how simple a container deployment can be.
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Ansible
The demonstration network team had a number of criteria for its work - criteria that made for creative tension, if not outright conflict between goals. According to network architect and team leader Glenn Evans, the demonstration had to be practical, linked to a group of sessions at the conference (in this case, the network automation crash course), and something attendees could understand and learn from quickly. The demonstration they hit on - to automate the response to a network disruption - fulfilled all three, Evans says, while the architecture they chose allowed attendees to readily replicate and build on the demonstration after they returned home.
The team chose Ansible as its principle automation platform. 'Ansible is a simple automation language that can perfectly describe an IT application infrastructure,' as defined by Red Hat, Ansible's owner. In practice, this means developers can create automated processes that control any number of things in an enterprise network or application infrastructure.
'We have Ansible running inside of a container. We've got that container running on a Raspberry Pi, the idea being that you can take this container down from our GitHub and run it on your computer,' says Robert Davis, a network and AWS IT consultant, as well as one of the volunteers who built the demonstration network. 
The Ansible instructions, gathered in 'playbooks,' are written in YAML (YAML Ain't Markup Language), and readily read and modified by developers or administrators. More about YAML later, but for security teams looking for ways to automate network responses, it's important to know that individual actions, known as 'plays,' can be put together in long sequences of complex actions. These long sequences can be saved on its own or as part of an Ansible image that is saved and made available for deployment in containers around the enterprise.
(Image: Photo of Glenn Evans by Curtis Franklin Jr. for Dark Reading)

Ansible

The demonstration network team had a number of criteria for its work criteria that made for creative tension, if not outright conflict between goals. According to network architect and team leader Glenn Evans, the demonstration had to be practical, linked to a group of sessions at the conference (in this case, the network automation crash course), and something attendees could understand and learn from quickly. The demonstration they hit on to automate the response to a network disruption fulfilled all three, Evans says, while the architecture they chose allowed attendees to readily replicate and build on the demonstration after they returned home.

The team chose Ansible as its principle automation platform. "Ansible is a simple automation language that can perfectly describe an IT application infrastructure," as defined by Red Hat, Ansible's owner. In practice, this means developers can create automated processes that control any number of things in an enterprise network or application infrastructure.

"We have Ansible running inside of a container. We've got that container running on a Raspberry Pi, the idea being that you can take this container down from our GitHub and run it on your computer," says Robert Davis, a network and AWS IT consultant, as well as one of the volunteers who built the demonstration network.

The Ansible instructions, gathered in "playbooks," are written in YAML (YAML Ain't Markup Language), and readily read and modified by developers or administrators. More about YAML later, but for security teams looking for ways to automate network responses, it's important to know that individual actions, known as "plays," can be put together in long sequences of complex actions. These long sequences can be saved on its own or as part of an Ansible image that is saved and made available for deployment in containers around the enterprise.

(Image: Photo of Glenn Evans by Curtis Franklin Jr. for Dark Reading)

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