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Cross Domain Automation: Provisioning Cisco NSO VPN Services using ATOM


With the growing network demands, service providers are increasingly looking to automate the deployments of services. Markets are aflush to cater to such demands, and providers may end up with multiple orchestration tools. Anuta Networks’ ATOM acts as a single pane of glass for managing all of these tools.

In this blog, we look at how Anuta’s ATOM can provision VPN services from Cisco’s NSO by harnessing its stateful service provisioning feature.

Integrations: A top challenge for all Networks

Irrespective of the network size, all types of networks require interaction with multiple tools encompassing ITSM, orchestrator, collaboration, and the like. With multiple tools combined with human interaction, errors are inherent. This can drastically affect the network service with even a minor error. Some of the challenges with the above integrated approach are:

  1. Update the ITSM at major milestones, if not all, of the network activity
    1. Prone to miss out on an update step
    2. Prone to error
    3. Change ticket/change request at relevant stages
    4. Time consuming
  2. Send updates to stakeholders
    1. The tedious task of framing the message with updates via Mail/Webex Spaces/Slack
    2. Seek approvals at relevant steps
  3. Monitor NSO for step execution


The challenges mentioned above, coupled with manual intervention, are likely error-prone and time-consuming. Think about the manual hours spent with the rapidly growing network demand!!

Uniting Tools for Efficiency- ATOM

To address these challenges, ATOM acts as a centralized portal by integrating all these tools and performing all the steps in the required sequence with minimal intervention. It presents the user with the following:

Consolidated User Form: The network operator is presented with a single user form to capture all of the NSO and service inputs, ServiceNow, Mail, and Slack details to complete the provisioning process. This can be invoked from Rest API in addition to the ATOM UI, which acts as a single console to feed the inputs, track the provisioning tasks and reporting.

Provisioning Workflow: This workflow drives all the logic of interacting with NSO for service provisioning, ServiceNow for ticket management, Webex Spaces, and Mail for updates.

External Integrations: All pre-existing or new controllers and tools can be onboarded into ATOM, which helps create the seamless integration for provisioning.

ATOM’s potential to integrate the external platforms is versatile, ATOM can integrate NSO in 2 different ways–

  1. NSO as a standalone POD in ATOM’s own cluster
  2. NSO integrated as an external adapter

The following blog post will explore the second method, specifically exploring NSO’s integration as an external adapter.

Cross-Domain Automation: Provision L3VPN Service via Cisco NSO

Provisioning the VPN Service

  • An operator requests an L3VPN service using the consolidated form providing details about the NSO, ServiceNow, and Webex Spaces, which are already fused or integrated with ATOM. In addition, the service details are provided, which NSO uses to initiate the provisioning process.
    • There is a provision to roll back at any point of the provisioning process on encountering an error.

ATOM – User Form

  • This triggers the workflow, creating the order/ticket in ServiceNow with appropriate details. It then proceeds to update the Webex Spaces after the approval is received from all stakeholders.

ATOM – Provision Workflow Part 1

    ServiceNow – Change Request

  • The pre-checks are performed on the devices via NSO, and Webex is updated along with a ServiceNow ticket with relevant details.

ServiceNow – Ticket Details

  • It then sends the provisioning details to NSO, which directly interacts with the nodes for service creation. Mail notification is triggered for any errors seen during provisioning.
    • For any changes made on the NSO outside of ATOM, manual sync is required in ATOM to fetch the latest data.

NSO – VPN Service Provisioned

  • On successful provisioning, Webex Spaces and ServiceNow are updated with progress details. NSO and ATOM sync is checked.
    • A separate incident ticket is created in ServiceNow if any steps fail to execute.

ATOM – Provision Workflow Part 2

ATOM initiates post-checks via the NSO, and the Webex Spaces is updated. Pre and post-checks are compared for deviations, which then closes the ServiceNow ticket, followed by a Mail notification.

ATOM – Service diff

Webex Spaces – Activity Notes

  • The workflow supports various options to retry/continue/terminate with rollback features in case of a failure anywhere in the provisioning process.
  • If ATOM directly manages the network element, ATOM maintains an archive of versions of configurations. This facilitates rolling back the element to a previous version of configuration.
  • ATOM monitors element configuration changes. Configuration drifts can be notified, automatically reconciled

The ‘Right’ kind of Collaboration

In conclusion, deploying network services, especially in the face of escalating demands, can be a complex and error-prone endeavor when relying on multiple tools and manual interventions. Anuta Networks’ ATOM emerges as a pivotal solution in this landscape, serving as a centralized hub that seamlessly integrates various tools, streamlines workflows, and minimizes human errors.

With one user input form, ATOM helps integrate multiple tools for service provisioning with pre and post-validation and updates at major milestones. Thus reducing human errors, manual hours and providing a consolidated view of all the steps involved with relevant details. This helps remove the pain of managing multiple tools for growing network demands while expanding the network with automation and leveraging the investment in Cisco NSO.

For more details, watch for upcoming Blogs in the Cross-domain Automation with ATOM Series!

Additional Contributors: Manisha Dhan

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