hephaestus: Automating service-provider network troubleshooting using Python
author : Niall Donaghy, (c) 2013-2014
###Abstract: Internet service provider networks are complex systems comprising multiple routers each autonomously forwarding data packets. When a packet is inadvertently blocked by a router the resultant troubleshooting process can be time-consuming and error-prone because as little as one line of configuration nestled amongst tens of thousands can be the culprit. This dissertation details hephaestus†, a research project comprising an interactive Python prototype which improves dramatically both the speed and accuracy of this process by leveraging automation at key junctures. Specifically, this application interrogates Juniper Networks routers running JunOS and the pan-European IP/MPLS network GÉANT serves as the testbed under examination.
† The name hephaestus is borrowed from that of the Greek god of fire and metallurgy in reference to the subject matter: big iron‡ backbone routers and firewalls.
‡ 'big iron', as the hackers' dictionary the Jargon File defines it, “refers to large, expensive, ultra-fast computers.” Wikipedia states, “More recently the term is also applied to powerful computer servers and computer ranches, whose steel racks invoke the same association.”