Arista ZTP basics

ZTP within Arista switches makes deploying infrastructure really easy.  ZTP takes away a lot of human errors and allows for zero touch provisioning of switches.  Zero touch provisioning switches really falls in line with a lot of the SDN/Automation craze.  We have all been there when it comes to installing a switch and doing the simple CRTL+C and CTRL+V into note pad.  It never really works out to well.  From personal experience at my last position we were able to end the configuration of switches to facilities to plug them in after a simple script was ran per environment.

In this blog post we will work with the the following environment….


I have 4 VM’s EOS-1 to EOS-4 within VMware.  vEOS inside of VMware is a easy Install.  Once all 4 vEOS VM’s are loaded a Ubuntu 14.04 LTS VM will be needed.  That VM will require a install of ISC DHCP Server  and  Arista ZTP server.  For the Arista ZTP server simply follow all the apt-get packages and it should install rather easily.  So once that is out of the way for vEOS make sure to go ahead and change the default ZTP method to mac address for all the vEOS VM’s.

Now that everything is installed lets take a look at how ZTP officially works.


The switch will come online.  In this case vEOS1 -> vEOS4.  The switch will then try to send out a DHCP discover on the management interface first then all interfaces.  Once the switch receives an IP from the DHCP server the switch will then receive a file from the DHCP options.  That is step two.  This file is generally called a “bootstrap”  a bootstrap file is simply  a python script which tells the switch where to grab its config from.  After the script has been downloaded and all script configurations have been applied the switch will then reboot.

Okay thats great but how does that work…

Here is a screen shot of my DHCP server on the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS VM


The is really where the magic happens.  So if everything was followed correctly in the previous guide of the arista ZTP server on the Ubuntu 14.04 VM you should have your ZTP server running on port 8080.  So when the VM is brought online it will receive its bootstrap file directly from the ZTP server.   Lets reload one of my switches and watch the ZTP server at the same time.


From the switches perspective it booted up and had zero configuration on it.  It sends out a DHCP request first and received the IP address  The DHCP server through a DHCP option then instructed the switch to get its Bootstrap file from  It then downloads the boot strap file.  After downloading the bootstrap file it will then execute the file and reboot.

From the Ubuntu 14.04LTS servers perspective / ZTP server.


The First line says that the node 005056a878fa is requesting the bootstrap file.  Now what I will explain next is how would the ztp server know this is a distinct switch ie ToR5 vs ToR1.  When these first boot up they receive either a system mac address or a serial number.  I just used the mac address feature.  So not to go off path here but 005056a878fa is the switches system mac address.  I will explain the next few lines in a little bit.

So far we know some what how this process works but how do we know where to store the configuration etc for each device?  How do we make each switch unique?

In the following file. /etc/ztpserver/ztpserver.conf


The location is where the ztp files are I will explain later but boot strap for example is located within /usr/share/ztpserver/bootstrap.  The same with image files etc.  Under the unique identifier I chose systemmac.  Serial can be used as well and server url will be where you can run ZTP server.

So under /usr/share/ztp/server there are a list of the VM’s configuration for ZTP I have created.  Lets go to the node where I just ZTP’d.

/share/ztpserver/nodes/005056a878fa/ is where the node information is.  So each time a new switch is created all the information should be under its own directory within the nodes folder with its MAC address.  There are 3 files located within this directory.

-Startup-configuration – Holds the configuration for the unique switch

-Definition – This is one of my favorites with ZTP I will get into but you can have a definition say something similar to make sure when the switch boots it is always on a certain version of code.  Or download this batch,python or GO script.

-Pattern – Pattern allows to dynamically build the environment via LLDP neighbors if need be.

So here are some snippets of my startup-config,definitions and pattern.  My pattern file is default.  But these files are all needed by ZTP.  Keep in mind I built the configs before hand they just ZTP.  Later in a few days or weeks I will get a ZTP going where it will build the configurations based off of a simple python script.




Screenshot from 2016-05-09 17:28:37


Screenshot from 2016-05-09 17:28:54

In my definition files the very first action is to install_image.  What this simply does is make sure that is the current image.  The second takes the dnsscript from /usr/share/ztpserver/files/scripts/dnsscripts and sends it to the the switch.  Now what this does is simply add a DNS A record of the switches management address each time is ZTP’s.  Its  a simple bash script I put together here.


What the script says is do a NSUPDATE to the DNS server I have here at home.  Add host which is the string that is returned with hostname then the MGTINT is the ip address with a complex grep of the ifconfig ma1 interface which is the management interface.  I need to go ahead and do this same thing for all interfaces with some sort of fancy for loop here in the future.

So once that script is sent to the switch we will use the CLI once the script is booted within the configuration with a event-handler.


Lastly, I wanted to created a quick python script that will simply connect to all 3 vEOS switches and write erase / reload each of the switches.



Right now its a build up tear down for any type of testing I want to do.  In the future.  I for sure want to get a automated script that will build the configuration and the nodes directory automatically for me once its finished.  But for right now I can wr erase and remove all nodes.  I also have more DNS entries to make for all the interfaces.




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