Part 1: integration methods
In a recent survey of netTerrain users (from a variety of customers large and small), 100% of respondents said that they would recommend netTerrain to others. That’s right: our users use netTerrain!
One of the key aspects for a successful DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) implementation is its ability to be integrated into the overall IT ecosystem.
Here at Graphical Networks, we believe that usability is a key factor to successful DCIM software implementation: with usability comes the ability and ease of integration with netTerrain and other systems. To support this mission, we don’t provide one way to integrate netTerrain to other systems: you have an array of mechanisms.
While it is true that there are quite a few horror stories of failed DCIM implementations that ended as silos that then nobody used, here at Graphical Networks we want none of that. So much so, in fact, that any DCIM license we provide (no matter how small or large) includes a host of predefined integrations in addition to free database connectors to any COTS product as part of your maintenance. The same is true for our Outside Plant and Network Documentation products.
For starters: integration saves time. You can perform an initial bulk import of data into netTerrain in order to save time reentering stuff. Why invest a lot of time and money into data entry, when you can re-use what you already did, right?
A second reason to integrate is to leverage existing tools. See, despite what you may hear from analysts or other vendors, a DCIM software package, or a network documentation tool is not supposed to do everything! If you already have a tool that does a great job at providing status alarms and real-time monitoring, you don’t have to repeat this function in netTerrain (even though you can).
Finally, you may want to integrate netTerrain with other tools to support a cohesive workflow. For example, one of the top three software companies in the world is integrating their ticketing and workflow into netTerrain via our REST API to automatically support circuit management in their outside fiber plant.
Which integration method should I use?
The integration method you use will,in part, depend on the tool you are using.
For a DCIM deployment, you can start by using our bulk import mechanism to being in any existing assets (racks, devices) into netTerrain. You can use our spreadsheet import for that, as well as the Integration toolkit.
You may then want to leverage our IPMI and SNMP environmental monitoring solution directly integrated into the netTerrain web portal, but this is more discovery related than integration related. If you already have tools that perform environmental monitoring (power, temperature), then you may consider using our SOAP or REST API, if those third-party tools have such interfaces available. If you have gateways doing some measurements, you can also leverage our SNMP discovery to translate and map those readings into netTerrain.
For a netTerrain Logical deployment, in which the goal is to map your network in a hierarchical set of diagrams, you can run a discovery via SNMP to get you started — or import the data through a bulk import process.
Once your network is mapped, you can keep it synchronized via SNMP — including the propagation of status values at the port level and layer 2/3 link connectivity.
Now, if you have existing network monitoring systems (NMS) or fault management systems in place you can take advantage of our existing suite of connectors to map and synchronize the network from those sources (such connectors include Spectrum, VCenter, Service Now, Solarwinds Orion and others). You can also create your own connectors (or request them from us at no charge) using our database connectivity wizard available for any netTerrain installation in the Integration Toolkit.
Outside plant and fiber campus projects using netTerrain OSP typically require no monitoring or discovery features since the documentation of the fiber is more static in nature, however you can take advantage of our KMZ/KML import to bring in any existing documentation you already created in tools like Google Earth, without having to start from scratch.
In subsequent blogs, we will show some examples of integrations using our predefined API-based connectors and how to leverage existing systems for a more automated and error-free documentation experience.