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Get away from spreadsheets? Or embrace them?

I presently have an ACI automation environment, Ansible-based, where new config data starts out as rows in a spreadsheet. I wrote a tool that converts the data to JSON and ships it off to be processed by Ansible. It's designed this way because that's what I heard from my customers: we like spreadsheets. It makes a certain amount of sense, because when they do changes, they are often configuring a lot all at once. Spreadsheets do scale well.

 

I'm having trouble expressing why I don't like this. I suppose it just doesn't seem very elegant. I would also prefer it if our Production configuration data did not have to first pass through a home-grown app to be useful.

 

How are other people getting configuration data out of the brains of the network engineers and into their automation systems? The answer I usually get is to use some kind of survey tool, but does one exist that can take in data efficiently at large scale? I once explained my use case to a ServiceNow rep and they basically told me it was too complex...

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