Service Upgrades

In 2020, GlobalNOC made a number of significant enhancements to our operations service and to our network management systems that support it.

Customer portals project

The customer portals project was one of five priorities identified by GlobalNOC leadership for FY20-21. This project will continue to be a focus through the first half of 2021.

The customer portals project provides GlobalNOC’s clients a set of portals, or dashboards, targeting their members and allowing their members to quickly see the overall status of the client’s network plus tailored views of statistics specific to that member’s connection(s) to the client’s network.

These portals draw data from multiple sources such as GlobalNOC’s network measurement, monitoring/alarming, and ticketing systems, and provide an integrated view of this data in one location, personalized to the user.

In 2020, GlobalNOC developed a new “CIO Dashboard” for N-Wave. This dashboard is designed to show a high-level overview of the health of the N-Wave network. It focuses on specific problems that would indicate actual network outages, as opposed to other operational issues (such as high CPU load on a router). 

In 2021, GlobalNOC will be adding member-level authentication options to these portals, allowing staff at the member organizations within clients’ networks to log in to these portals and see more sensitive data, such as details of open trouble tickets with GlobalNOC. There are also plans to enable “two-way” functionality, giving these members the ability to do additional tasks, such as update the contact information GlobalNOC keeps on file with them through one of these portals.

Portal Gallery

When COVID-19 hit, GlobalNOC created an IU VPN map to paint a picture of where and how many people were connecting to the VPN as much of the IU community returned to their hometowns or countries. For larger image, click here.
This is an example of the I-Light members portal, showing a view for Anderson University. This portal includes member-specific alarms and member-specific interface as well as commodity-usage stats. For larger image, click here.
The bottom half of this dashboard shows utilization over data calculating netflow records. Together this highlights an atypical use case and also shows how GlobalNOC can seamlessly pull together different data sets for different needs. For larger image, click here.

Network configuration automation

Automated configuration of network devices was a main focus of the GlobalNOC Renewal Program (GRP).

Network configuration automation included integrating and developing technical capability at GlobalNOC for this process and putting it into practice for networks we support. Networks with this automation mostly include those networks for which we provide Tier 3 network engineering support as well as the IU campus network. Throughout the course of GRP, it was also important to GlobalNOC to share what we learn and provide leadership in configuration automation within the R&E networking community.

GlobalNOC now has configuration automation solutions deployed for:

  • N-Wave (transport and services networks)
  • Indiana GigaPOP
  • I-Light
  • IU campus networks (core and edge networks)
  • Internet2’s Secure Management Network

Over the past year, GlobalNOC has also been working with Internet2 to adapt its longstanding partner-effort automation software, Open Exchange Software Stack (OESS), which powers Internet2’s Cloud Connect service, and is available as open-source software.

OESS integrates with I2’s Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) project, as well as with I2’s new automation platform, which is based on Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO). These efforts will continue into 2021.

GlobalNOC staff have begun adopting these automation tools and have found additional applications outside of routine device configuration tasks. Some examples include:

  • Automated detection and response of distributed denial of service attacks across the I-Light network
  • Automated security credential rotation for network devices
  • Automated scheduling of “round robin” (triage) and on-call engineer shifts in one of our systems engineering teams
  • Automated deployment of software upgrades to GlobalNOC tools

Network configuration automation gallery

This diagram depicts the relationship between GlobalNOC’s automation tools, the network devices themselves, and the “source of truth”—the GlobalNOC database. The diagram shows that this automation environment is supported by and integrated with the rest of the GlobalNOC NMS—the network management environment.
These two images show a layer 2 circuit created in the Internet2 Cloud Connect portal/OESS software and a summary list of layer 2 circuits and layer 3 VPNs providing automated, private/direct connectivity to commercial cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. For larger image, click here.
This screenshot shows GlobalNOC’s service-based configuration system, depicting the configuration of a VPN service. A network engineer completes configuration parameters on the left pane, and the right pane shows a full configuration as it will be applied to the network devices. For larger image, click here.
This summary dashboard shows overall stats about this instance of GlobalNOC’s automation system. It includes a graph of successful and failed automation runs over a one-month period, along with a list of recently run jobs and their respective statuses. For larger image, click here.