A Week in the Life of a Systems Engineer

By David Hornstein

I headed up to Detroit in October to set up a customer evaluation of AMF Plus for a rather huge network. First things first, what is AMF Plus?

AMF Plus is a management framework that is built into our product operating systems. It's not like the competition’s zero-touch provisioning. Instead, AMF Plus is built into and enabled by default in our AlliedWare Plus™ products. Industry competitors need external servers to supply configurations and software via DHCP requests.

AMF Plus actually stands for "Autonomous Management Framework™" which describes what it does pretty well. Switches and routers are loaded with smart software, almost an AI, that allows the network to be autonomous—to self-heal, provision, upgrade and react to the environments around it.

I love selling and demonstrating AMF Plus. It really solves a serious problem on customer sites. Customers usually have to spend a lot of money on network installations. Usually, they spend a lot of money on ongoing OPEX to have the systems and the skilled staff to manage a large Ethernet switch network.

But wouldn’t it be useful if the network would:

  1. Back itself up daily, including firmware and configuration changes.
  2. Self-heal. By that, I mean that a replacement switch automatically configures itself on power-up. Think true zero-touch!
  3. Auto-provision new switches added to the network by cloning existing switch configurations.
  4. Automate firmware upgrades by letting me specify the firmware and the devices I want to upgrade, then do the upgrade at a time I choose.
  5. Allow me to configure multiple devices at the same time so I can save time and make fewer mistakes!

AMF Plus does that and a lot more. It's cost-effective, saves the customer money and gives users peace of mind. It gives me peace of mind because I know that even unskilled network technicians will recover from hardware failures in minutes, making AMF Plus the hero to their management. If you have a replacement switch on hand, the replacement switch will be up and running with the old licenses, configuration and files in flash memory in under 10 minutes. You can’t ask for much more than that!

How AMF Plus works

AMF Plus needs an AMF Plus master to control its operation. Normally on smaller networks, one switch or router can act as an AMF Plus master switch and collect configurations, firmware and license files on an attached USB memory stick. Networks can also have a backup AMF Plus master in case the primary AMF Plus master fails. On larger networks, where we have to deal with well over 20 switches, we may need the AMF Plus master to reside virtually in a server appliance.

On Site

In this particular case, the customer installed our AMF Plus Master software within a modest tower PC running Windows OS and Oracle VirtualBox. We virtualized the AMF Plus master because eventually there may be over 300 switches supported by the AMF Plus master. I figured the best environment was a virtualized AMF Plus master for this customer’s scenario.

Day 1

This was a live network, so any interruption of service had to be zero or planned in advance via customer change control processes to minimize downtime.

I updated the software on the customer switches and routers. Then installed the AMF Plus master—in this case a AMF Plus Cloud, in an Oracle VirtualBox partition. I continued by installing Vista Manager EX™ (the graphical user interface for AMF Plus) in another VirtualBox partition on the supplied x86 PC. I followed the installation guides and ran into no issues. Since AMF Plus requires a license we supplied a 20-node, time-limited license to enable the customer to evaluate AMF Plus.

Day 2

I configured the switches and router destined to run an AMF Plus environment. It took me less than two hours to configure the switches and routers for this evaluation. The commands used for edge AMF Plus devices were simply:

  • atmf network-name customer-name
  • interface port1.0.x where x is the switch port that connects the switch into the AMF Plus network
  • switchport atmf-link

By noon we had backed up all the switches on the core AMF Plus Plus master, to the AMF Plus Cloud.

Day 3

This was a fun day for testing and troubleshooting AMF Plus.

How to simulate a failed machine: Reset switches to factory default and watch via the RS232 console as the switch self-provisions.

How to test for provisioning new switch: Clone existing switch configuration and connect a new x230 Series switch.


Everything just worked! The customer watched in amazement as the factory-fresh switch recovered its configuration and script files all within 7 minutes.

We watched as a new x230 switch got plugged into the network. The cloned configuration loaded onto this newly provisioned switch automatically, including the VLANs. The customer was absolutely delighted.

By the end of the week, the customer purchased an AMF Plus license for the whole network. The customer also purchased Vista Manager EX so they could see the network status on a topology map within the graphical user interface.

Give it a try—I’d love to help you configure AMF Plus on your Alliedware Plus™ network. AMF Plus just works. It's great peace of mind to know that that the network will self heal on failure.