Netbox: New installation (2.8.5) and filling up an empty rack

The guys from netbox released version 2.8.5 a couple of days ago, so I decided to do a new setup of my netbox installation - which gives me also the chance to document my setup and go through the device configuration, new features like power feeds and power panels, cabling and scripts. The documentation to setup a server and the application at https://netbox.readthedocs.io/en/stable/ is quite good, therefore I am not covering any installation steps or integration of optional features (like Active Directory integration with LDAP) in this blog post.

The empty netbox instance

When the installation of netbox is completed, the netbox instance is empty as shown in the screenshot below. Before any real hardware can be added, various things need to be defined first. This includes Sites, Manufacturers, Device Types, and so on.

Netbox: Empty instance after installation
Netbox: Empty instance after installation

Because the nextbox installation is empty, I usually start to define the Manufacturers I am using in my network. This includes manufacturers of passive equipment like rack/cabinet, power strips and power distribution units, patch panels, cable management and shelfs. The manufacturers for active equipment like switches, firewall, wireless controller, servers, storage and uninterruptable power supply need to be defined as well.

Netbox: Defining manufacturers
Netbox: Defining manufacturers

To separate the Device Roles of my hardware, I’m defining those roles as shown below. I’m using prefixes like NET- or SRV- and so on to ease the alphabetical sorting and various colors to “group” devices together (for example: everything related to network gets a greenish color).

Netbox: Defining Device Roles
Netbox: Defining Device Roles

Defining Power Panels and Feeds

My old installation of netbox did not have any definition of Power Panels or Power Feeds so this is a new feature for me. By having a look on it I figured out that Power Panel is something which is called in German “Sicherungskasten”, i. e. something like a fuse box.

The Power Feed translates into German as “Stromzufuehrung”, i. e. the power cables which runs from a fuse box to a power outlet in a wall. In a data center, this can be one Power Panel per rack row, and each rack or cabinet in that row has for example two Power Feeds for redundancy.

For my setup I’m defining a typical Power Panel for a household in Germany (AC / 230 Volt / 16 Ampere) as shown below:

Netbox: Defining Power Panel
Netbox: Defining Power Panel

From this Power Panel there is a power cable (flush-mounted) running to a power outlet where my Uninterruptable Power Supply is connected. Therefore I am adding one Power Feed and connecting to the Power Panel:

Netbox: Defining Power Feeds
Netbox: Defining Power Feeds

Defining Device Types

The Device Type is acting as a template. If it’s defined for a specific device, it can be used many times where this device is installed. Defining a Device Type can get complex because there is a good understanding of the hardware required, including RTFM (i. e. reading data sheets).

Schneider-APC Smart-UPS 1000

I start with a Schneider-APC Smart-UPS 1000 including an AP9630 Management card because this gives me the opportunity to show the difference between a Power Port (Power comes in) and Power Outlet (Power goes out) of a device.

Netbox: Schneider-APC Smart-UPS 1000
Netbox: Schneider-APC Smart-UPS 1000

As shown below, the Uninterruptable Power Supply has one Power Port and four Power Outlets. All four Power Outlets are “mapped” to the one Power Port.

This mapping is required because this one Power Port has to serve the four Power Outlets, where devices or power strips or power distribution units might be connected. Because I have the AP9630 Management card installed, I add a 100BASE-TX network interface for remote management.

Netbox: Add Power Ports and Power Outlets to UPS
Netbox: Add Power Ports and Power Outlets to UPS

Digitus Power strip with 8x outlets

On my Uninterruptable Power Supply two 19″ Power Strips with eight outlets are connected, therefore this hardware needs to be defined as well. The same “mapping” of the Power Outlets to the Power Port like for the UPS applies:

Netbox: Digitus Power Strips with eight outlets
Netbox: Digitus Power Strips with eight outlets

Cisco WS-C3760G-24TS-S1U switch

The next example of a Device Type definition is a Cisco WS-C3760G-24TS-S1U switch.

Netbox: Cisco WS-C3760G-24TS-S1U switch
Netbox: Cisco WS-C3760G-24TS-S1U switch

Because this switch has one internal power supply, I’m adding one Power port and name it as PS-01 (IEC 60320 C14). This naming comes handy when dealing with devices in different countries (NEMA in the US, British Standard in UK and India, …).

The switch has also one RJ-45 serial console port, which is added as Console Port.

Netbox: Add Power and Console Port to Cisco switch
Netbox: Add Power and Console Port to Cisco switch

In the next step the physical Interfaces of the switch are added. By using the bulk creation feature the 24 1000BASE-T interfaces of the switch are added in one step.

Netbox: Add 24 1000BASE-T interfaces to Cisco switch
Netbox: Add 24 1000BASE-T interfaces to Cisco switch

The same procedure applies for the four SFP interfaces. If the switch has a modular uplink module.

Netbox: Add four SFP interfaces to Cisco switch
Netbox: Add four SFP interfaces to Cisco switch

Please note that virtual interfaces can be added here as well, especially if the management VLAN interface is always the same. In my opinion it’s better to add virtual interfaces, because those are depending on the switch configuration, to the Device and not to the Device Type.

Building a Rack

Now it’s time to add the first Rack and populate it with one Uninterruptable Power Supply, the two 19″ Power Strips and two Cisco switches.

The Rack is assigned to a Site, has a name and dimensions. In my case I have a 2-port frame with 36U (Height Units).

Netbox: Add a new Rack
Netbox: Add a new Rack

By selecting a height unit on the front and clicking on “Add Device” I’m populating this specific height unit with the switch:

Netbox: Add a Cisco switch to a Rack
Netbox: Add a Cisco switch to a Rack

The result after populating some devices looks like shown in the screenshot.

Notes:

  • If a Device Type is marked as Full Depths the same height unit on the rear cannot be populated (red)

  • If the Device Type is not marked as Full Depth, the same height unit on the rear can be used by another device (gray)

Netbox: A Rack with UPS, Power Strips and switches
Netbox: A Rack with UPS, Power Strips and switches

Power cabling and connections

With Version 2.6.0 Power Panels and Feeds were introduced. I think this is a cool feature because not only the network cabling and connections are important but also the power cabling. The power cabling of my UPS can be easily done from the Power Port of the device.

Netbox: Connecting PWR-IN of UPS to Power Panel
Netbox: Connecting PWR-IN of UPS to Power Panel

The connection dialog shows in detail how the Power cable from the UPSPWR-IN is connected to the Power Feed #1 of the Power Panel.

Netbox: Add Power cabling from UPS to Power Panel
Netbox: Add Power cabling from UPS to Power Panel

For the devices in my rack I always try to create Power redundancy. To accomplish this I have two 19″ Power strips connected to the UPS. All devices like switches, storage, servers and so on are then distributed between both 19″ Power strips. The scheme shown below illustrates the complete power cabling, from Power Panel to the Core switches.

    +-------+              +-------+                +----------------+               +-------------+
    |       |              |       | -------------- | Power Strip #1 | ------------- |  Switch #1  |
    |  PWR  | ------------ |       |   PWR cable    +----------------+   PWR cable   +-------------+
    | PANEL |   PWR FEED   |  UPS  |
    |       |              |       |                +----------------+               +-------------+
    |       |              |       | -------------- | Power Strip #2 | ------------- |  Switch #2  |
    +-------+              +-------+   PWR cable    +----------------+   PWR cable   +-------------+
Scheme of Power redundany

Bonus: Creating Virtual Chassis (Switch Stack)

Before creating a Virtual Chassis (Cisco: Switch Stack), physical interfaces must be renamed first based on the amount of stack members. You want to have Gi1/0/1, Gi2/0/1, Gi3/0/1 and not three times Gi1/0/1 ;)

This can be easily accomplished by using the Renaming feature as shown in the screenshot:

Netbox: Renaming interfaces before building a virtual chassis
Netbox: Renaming interfaces before building a virtual chassis

After the Renaming of the interfaces, the two switches can be selected and by clicking on Create Virtual Chassis the Cisco switch-stack is build.

Netbox: Create Virtual Chassis (Switch-stack)
Netbox: Create Virtual Chassis (Switch-stack)

By selecting one of the switches, the details show now a box named Virtual Chassis. In this box, the two stack members are shown with their position, priority and if the switch is the stack-master.

Netbox: The two switches as Virtual Chassis (Switch-stack)
Netbox: The two switches as Virtual Chassis (Switch-stack)

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