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Introduction

opConfig 3 introduces the ability to 'push' configuration changes to devices, complete with error detection, support for change rollback and complete audit trails.

This document describes the config push infrastructure.

Concepts

opConfig has always supported 'command sets', which consist of (individual) commands that can be sent to devices and whose output is collected and analyzed. Command sets are expected to be idempotent, safely repeatable and without side effects. Command sets don't support sequencing or error detection, and thus are not suitable (or intended!) for modifying device configurations.

For config push, opConfig requires that the administrator defines one or more suitable 'config sets'. A config set is a list of commands which are sent to selected devices with the expectation that something on the device is changed by the sequence of commands; to perform such operations safely, a config set can also define error detection patterns and possible reactions to any errors.

The Anatomy of a Config Set

Storage Format and Location

The primary storage and exchange format for config sets is JSON; example config  sets can be found in install/config_sets.d/ and it is recommended that you store your actively developed config sets in conf/config_sets.d/.

To make a config set active you have to import it into opConfig:  the JSON files themselves are not consulted.

Metadata

A config set must have a unique name property, and may have a (free-form) description.

Every config set is automatically assigned a revision by opConfig, which cannot be changed once set. opConfig automatically tracks the history and evolution of your config sets via name and revision: whenever a config set file is (re)imported into opConfig, the config set is checked for differences against the most recent known revision; if there are any, the set is saved with a new revision.

In general, only the most recent revision of a config set will be applied to devices (but this can be overridden).

Candidate Selection

Configuration changes and the commands to perform them are usually specific to a target platform. To avoid misapplication of config sets opConfig provides a flexible mechanism for selecting candidate devices for each configuration set. This  is done by providing rules in the optional filter section.

The filter section holds any number of selection clauses, each consisting of a property path and a selection criterion. To pass as a candidate, all filters must match.

The property path is given in "dotted notation", compatible with opnode_admin.pl's act=show and act=set operations.
For example, os_info.major would be used to refer to the detected OS major version (which is stored within the os_info substructure).

The selection criterion can take one of three forms:

  1. an explicit single value
    for example,  "os_info.platform": "x86_64" would match if the node's OS platform value is exactly equal to "x86_64".
  2. a list of alternative values
    for example "name": [ "nodeA", "nodeB"] would match either of the two nodes named nodeA or nodeB. The comparison is again strict equality.
    The filter clause is considered a match if one or more choices amongst the list of alternatives do match.
  3. a regular expression
    for example "os_info.os":  "/IOS/i" would select nodes whose OS contains the string "IOS" (or "ios", "IoS" etc.) anywhere.
    Note that the regular expression must be given as a string, starting and ending with a "/" and optionally including the "i" modifier for case-insensitive matching.

All known properties for a node are available for filtering; please consult the output of opnode_admin.pl act=show or act=export for a list of common properties.

Notifications

opConfig  can optionally notify interested parties when a config set was applied to devices.

This  is configured by providing the relevant contact details in the optional notify section of the config set. When a config set application is scheduled, extra notification recipients can be specified but the ones given in the config set are always included.

In version 3.0.0 opConfig supports notification by email only.

For example, "notify": {"email": ["first@mycompany.com","second@othercompany.com" ]} would have opConfig send  emails to both of the given addresses.

Notifications list the candidate nodes and status information for the config set application for each, e.g. complete success, partial success or complete failure.

Error Handling

A config set can contain a number of error detection and handling directives, contained within an error_handling block.

Error Detection

Error handling requires that one or more match properties are given, which are applied to each command's response to determine if the command is considered unsuccessful.
By default no error detection is performed, and all commands are considered successful no matter what their output is.

Similar to the candidate filtering mechanism described above, match properties must either be strings or strings containing a regular expression. Strings are compared exactly. More than one match property is possible.

If the command output meets one or more match properties, then the command is considered unsuccessful.

Reacting to Errors

If error detection is configured, three different reactions are possible:

  1. Continue the config set application
    This is the default behaviour. opConfig  will keep and report a tally of successful versus failed commands, but will try to apply all of them in sequence.
  2. Abort the config set application
    To select this option, the property break_on_error must be set to true. In this case, the first failed command in a set causes all other commands to be skipped.
  3. Apply Rollback commands
    To revert the configuration back to a desired state, you would have to provide a sequence of rollback-commands in your error-handling section.
    Rolling back would generally be combined with break_on_error, but opConfig does not strictly require that.

Stages and their Commands

opConfig distinguishes between five different stages for the application of a config set. You can provide any number of commands for each of the stages; the command stage must contain one or more commands.

A stage definition consists of  a list of command strings which are sent to the device in sequence, one line at a time, exactly as they're given.

Each command must be complete by itself, and must start and finish at a configured prompt for your device's personality. This  means that in general, interaction with a command across multiple lines, responding to confirmation challenges etc. is not directly possible.

There are two exceptions:

  • opConfig treats the 'pseudo-commands' __leave__ and __enter__ specially, and leaves or enters configuration mode.
    Note that there are two "_"  on each side of the command. These special commands can be handy for rolling back changes, if your particular rollback command requires to be performed outside of configuration mode.
  • Any command that starts with a single "_" is treated as a macro invocation, with optional arguments.
    Macros have to be defined suitably in your device personality's "phrasebook", and they differ from plain individual commands in that macros can define sequences of send-expect-prompt steps.
    This is how limited multi-step interaction with a device is possible.
    For example, the default Cisco phrasebook as shipped with opConfig defines the macro reload_in, to be used in a  command like "_reload_in 15". This would configure a Cisco IOS device for a forced reboot in N minutes. This has to be done using a macro because setting up the reload operation requires confirmation. There is also a macro called reload which, when triggered by the command "_reload" would restart your device.

The pre-commands Stage (optional)

Commands listed here are run first, in privileged mode and  outside of configuration mode. Error detection is not available in this stage.

A common example command could be reload in 15 for Cisco devices.

The post-commands and post-rollback-commands Stages (optional)

These stages are run last, after leaving configuration mode and still in privileged mode. No error handling  is available.

The "plain" post-commands stage is chosen in all cases where no rollback was performed (i.g. if error handling was disabled or if all commands succeeded)' on the  other hand, if a rollback was performed, then only the post-rollback-commands are applied.

A common task for the  post-commands stage would be a capture of the newly changed configuration (to double-check that everything has worked), or the cancelling of a future reload on Cisco devices.

The commands Stage (required)

Commands in this stage are run in configuration mode (which implies privileged mode). Error handling is available, hence the sequence of commands may be aborted early.

The rollback-commands Stage (optional)

If error detection is enabled and if this stage is provided, then its commands will be applied as soon as errors are detected. The rollback commands are sent while in configuration mode, and no error handling is possible.

Config Set Management

As mentioned above, config set documents must be imported into opConfig to become active. Configuration sets cannot be deleted (to ensure a valid audit trail), but they can be superseded and optionally disabled and hidden from the GUI.

opConfig's opconfig-cli.pl provides full config set management, using the functions import_configsetlist_configset, export_configset and enable_ and disable_configset; As of version 3.0.0, the opConfig GUI only allows to display the newest revision for a config set.

A new revision of a config  set automatically starts in "enabled" state, and scheduled operations normally use the highest enabled config set revision. To switch to an earlier revision instead you may disable the unwanted but higher numbered revision; in which case the GUI will no longer show the disabled revision, nor will scheduling of config changes pick this disabled revision.

Scheduling of Configuration Changes

Scheduling of config  set applications can be performed both from the GUI as well as using opconfig-cli.pl. When you schedule a change, you have to provide at least an execution time and a config  set (name); optionally you may also provide refinements for device selections, or additional notification recipients. A schedule is immutable once set and can only be removed entirely.

Time Formats

opConfig accepts all common time formats as described on the Supported Time Formats page. These include both absolute time and date formats like the ISO 8601 type "2016-05-20T14:40", as well as very handy relative formats like "now + 45 minutes" or "tomorrow midnight".

To enter relative formats when scheduling config changes from the GUI you'll have to use the Target Date/Time input field as the Date and Time picker only produces absolute outputs.

If you schedule a change for a time in the past, then the opConfig daemon will execute the operation immediately.

Selection Refinements

The device filters and notification recipients given in a config set cannot be overruled when scheduling a config change; they can only be refined and extended.

  • If you use the Refine Node Selection options in the scheduling GUI, then all candidate devices will have to match both filters from the config set and your refinement filters in order to be targetted.
    If your refinements or the config set filters are too strict and don't meet at least a single existing node, the change will not be scheduled and you will see an error message in the scheduling GUI.
  • If you add Email Notification recipients when scheduling, then these recipients  will be added to recipients from the config set.

Scheduling using the CLI Tool

To perform a configuration change operation from the command line you would be using opconfig-cli.pl act=push_configset name=<cset name>. Refinements can be given using an explicit list of desired nodes with nodes=nodeA,nodeB...; extra email recipients can be given with the optional email=a@b.c,e@f.g... argument.

If you don't provide a target time (with at=<timespec>), then opconfig-cli will execute the configuration change immediately. With an at argument in the future, the  change will be scheduled for the given date and time.

You may check the list of scheduled jobs using the command opconfig-cli.pl act=list_queue, and to delete a scheduled (but not yet active) job use the argument act=remove_queued with the job's id (shown by act=list_queue with_ids=true).

Limitations in opConfig 3.0.0

As of version 3.0.0, only one-off scheduling is supported; recurring schedules are planned for a future release.

The shipped phrasebooks are not fully primed for configuration changing for device types other than Cisco IOS; more specifically most other phrasebooks do not have the  necessary macros and prompts for handling configuration mode yet.

Within the opConfig GUI, config sets can only be viewed, not edited or imported/exported; A full config set management GUI is planned for the next release.

Config Set Example

This fully functional example config  set ships with opConfig 3.0.0 as install/config_sets.d/IOS-Configuration-Best-Practices.json.

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