From the very beginning, when I first introduced Salt to the network automation community, one of my dreams was to create a course.

Back in 2017, together with my friend Seth House, we managed to publish a small booklet with O’Reilly, which you can still download for free at (or directly from Cloudflare).

Along the way, many things happened, including COVID-19, which significantly impacted our lives and my personal plans.

In fact, the idea of an automation course began in 2019 when Tashi Phuntsho from APNIC proposed collaboration. As everyone knows, APNIC has been providing high-quality workshops and courses for a long time, so I couldn’t have been more excited and privileged about this opportunity. They have the experience and resources (time, human, and financial) that I don’t have.

Little did we know what the world was going to look like less than a year later.

We started collaborating online, debating the most important topics to cover and how deeply we should delve. After steadily working on the materials and a complex, scalable environment, we had a course ready by the end of 2021. 🎉

With the course ready, it was time to train the trainers who would deliver the course to hundreds or thousands of engineers in the APAC region over the next years to come. Being based in Europe myself and APNIC in Brisbane, Australia, together with the travel restrictions during COVID-19 times (still in place in 2021 & 2022 in some APAC locations), as well as professional or personal obligations on both sides, made it even more difficult to find a common time and location to gather and finalize our goal.


Fast forward to February 2024, we managed to gather together in Bangkok for our very first run of the network automation course:

The workshop spanned over 4 full days and was packed with loads of technologies and great content (I might be biased - but don’t take my word for it, register for the next sessions). Truthfully, we didn’t manage to cover everything we prepared. We realized that we actually needed 5 full days of training! Needless to say, this was a lab-heavy course. In the future, APNIC may split the course into two parts: beginner and advanced.

I firmly believe that network automation is far more than just configuration management. In fact, configuration management was the main focus of just one of the 17 modules of the course! I’m a big fan of event-driven automation and orchestration before it was cool. In the course, we covered and provided hands-on experience with napalm-logs, as well as other technologies such as Prometheus, Alertmanager, Grafana, Elasticsearch & Kibana, NetBox, TextFSM, or my little side projects salt-sproxy or ISalt for debugging. As I’m hinting here, Salt is only the starting point from which we bootstrapped an event-driven environment with a closed-loop that integrates with various systems to gather data, receive event notifications, and trigger automated reactions.

All of this revolved around a complex virtualised multi-vendor environment built on a spine-leaf topology of 10 virtual machines from vendors such as Juniper, Arista, or Cisco. The most complex lab relied on 34 Docker containers, with each instance allocated to a trainee. Reproducing the same environment for over 20 30 40 trainees was no simple matter, but as you may have guessed, behind the scenes, we used Salt to manage everyone’s environments. :)

Future courses

I couldn’t be happier that the course is now in the skillful and experienced hands of David Phelan, Sheryl Hermoso, Terry Sweetser, and others from the APNIC training team. Over the next years, they will deliver this course. In fact, the next run is just a couple of weeks away at SANOG 41 in Mumbai. Make sure you register for the entire workshop duration, from 25th to 28th April 2024.

For those who utilize RSS, you may subscribe to the provided RSS feed, which will document both past and forthcoming APNIC network automation workshops: