Cisco configuration backup with Netbox and Gitlab

I’m planning a small blog post series about Cisco configuration backup with Netbox and Gitlab.

My idea is to “control” which devices are backed up by Netbox with Device Type, Site, IPv4 address and Status (“Active”).

Based on above information the script should then login with SSH to the devices, send a couple of commands like banner, wr mem, copy run scp to start a file transfer to save the configuration on a SCP host temporary directory.

The configuration files are then checked in into a GitLab repository so it’s easy to track and compare configuration files.

To outline the idea, I made the drawing shown below.

Concept Cisco configuration backup with Netbox and Gitlab
Concept Cisco configuration backup with Netbox and Gitlab

Building a list (dict) with Device data from Netbox

This script uses Python3 and some libraries. For example pynetbox is used to get information from Netbox, pexpect is used for SSH and CLI for the devices, gitlab is used to communicate with the Gitlab server.

  #!/usr/bin/python3
  import pynetbox
  import requests
  import urllib3
  import pexpect
  import sys
  import json
  import gitlab
  from datetime import date
  today = str(date.today())
Python: Import of some libraries for the script

Some variables need to be defined, for example:

  • Netbox and Gitlab URL and API Token

  • SCP for the file transfer

  • Backup User to log in into Cisco devices

Some notes: I am not using TFTP therefore the Script needs some Login credentials for SCP. The Backup User is created on a RADIUS server and valid for all devices.

  ###############################################################################
  #
  # Set global variables
  #
  ###############################################################################
  # Netbox URL and Token
  netbox_url = "https://HOST_OR_IP"
  netbox_token = "TOKEN"
  # Gitlab URL and Token
  gitlab_url = "https://HOST_OR_IP"
  gitlab_token = "TOKEN"
  # SCP User, Password and Host (SCP host can be same like Netbox host)
  scp_user = "USERNAME"
  scp_pass = "PASSWORD"
  scp_host = "HOST_OR_IP"
  # Set User, Password and Enable to connect with SSH to devices
  backup_user = "USERNAME"
  backup_pass = "PASSWORD"
  backup_enable = "ENABLE_PASSWORD"
  # Set Gitlab project ID
  project_id = PROJECT_ID
Python: Some global variables for the script

In the next step the script is connecting to the Netbox API to get out a list (dict) with the Device Type, Site, Hostname, IPv4 and Status.

  def getDevicesFromNetbox():
    urllib3.disable_warnings()
    requests.packages.urllib3.disable_warnings()
    netbox = pynetbox.api(
      url = netbox_url,
      token = netbox_token,
      threading = True
    )
    netbox.http_session.verify = False

    # init empty device array
    devices_netbox = []
Python: Function to get device data from Netbox

In my Netbox setup, I defined the Device Type in a specific scheme, for example network device types start with “net-“, UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) start with “pwr-” and so on.

To build the list (dict), the script is using the pynetbox filter and then the script is appending the devices to the initialized list. This is repeating for my core-switches, access-switches, wireless-controllers and wan-firewalls.

  #
  # Build a list with Core-Switches
  # Note: The filtering by role depends on the roles defined in netbox
  #
  # the list needs at minimum the following information:
  # device / site / hostname / status / ipv4 address
  # device: used to determine the device and what CLI commands are required to start a backup
  # site: used to build a directory structure in gitlab project
  # hostname: the hostname of the device to build .cfg
  # status: to determine if device can be backed up or is out of it
  # ipv4: IP address to connect to the device

  core_switch = netbox.dcim.devices.filter(role='net-core-switch')
  for i in range(0, len(core_switch)):
    data = netbox.dcim.devices.get(name = core_switch[i])
    hostname = str(data).split(":")
    hostname = hostname[0]
    device_details = ["switch", str(data.site), hostname, str(data.primary_ip), str(data.status)]
    devices_netbox.append(device_details)

  access_switch = netbox.dcim.devices.filter(role='net-access-switch')
  for i in range(0, len(access_switch)):
    data = netbox.dcim.devices.get(name = access_switch[i])
    hostname = str(data).split(":")
    hostname = hostname[0]
    device_details = ["switch", str(data.site), hostname, str(data.primary_ip), str(data.status)]
    devices_netbox.append(device_details)

  wifi_controller = netbox.dcim.devices.filter(role='net-wireless-lan-controller')
  for i in range(0, len(wifi_controller)):
    data = netbox.dcim.devices.get(name = wifi_controller[i])
    hostname = str(data).split(":")
    hostname = hostname[0]
    device_details = ["wificontroller", str(data.site), hostname, str(data.primary_ip), str(data.status)]
    devices_netbox.append(device_details)

  wan_firewall = netbox.dcim.devices.filter(role='net-wan-firewall')
  for i in range(0, len(wan_firewall)):
    data = netbox.dcim.devices.get(name = wan_firewall[i])
    hostname = str(data).split(":")
    hostname = hostname[0]
    device_details = ["wanfirewall", str(data.site), hostname, str(data.primary_ip), str(data.status)]
    devices_netbox.append(device_details)

  return devices_netbox
Python: Build a list (dict) based on Netbox Device Types

The result is a list (dict) which contains the data to control the SSH session. With this, the script can then use a function for a Cisco switch or another function for a Cisco Wireless Controller. This separation is required because each device type uses a different CLI syntax. Also the Site can get important if the script should handle more than one location.

For Cisco Switch Stacks, some “cleanup” is required. In my case, the first switch in a stack has the extension “:1”, the second switch in a stack “:2” and so on.

Also Netbox returns the subnet bits in the IPv4 Address. This means, a “cleanup” for the IPv4 Address is required as well.

Note: For security reasons, hostnames and IP addresses are obfuscated.

Screenshot: List with network devices from Netbox
Screenshot: List with network devices from Netbox

To verify if I can control the planned backup scriopt from Netbox, I am setting for example one of my ASA Firewalls of “Offline”.

And as expected, the script output shows the status of this ASA Firewall as “Offline”.

Screenshot: Device offline in Netbox and script output
Screenshot: Device offline in Netbox and script output

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