Take a Closer Look at Looking Glass: Internet2 Releases First Insight Console Capability

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By Brian Cashman, Internet2 Network Planning Manager, and Christopher Green, Internet2 Digital Designer and Software Architect

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Internet2 Insight Console logo

We are excited to announce that the Internet2 Insight Console – a web-based console that empowers members to visualize, manage, and troubleshoot Internet2 network services – is now in production and available to the Internet2 community!

The Insight Console will deliver on the promise of Internet2’s Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) project, with new and enhanced capabilities based on community input.

Here we take a closer look at Looking Glass, the first feature available in the console and an enhanced replacement for the existing Router Proxy service. But stay tuned for further announcements about other new features being deployed this year, including the capability to establish Virtual Networks, such as connections to Internet2 Cloud Connect (I2CC), using the Insight Console.

What is Looking Glass

As the name implies, Looking Glass is all about offering the community visibility into Internet2 routers. Similar to the Router Proxy, Looking Glass allows Internet2 members to issue a specific subset of router console commands directly on live, production Internet2 routers – from ping and traceroute to show BGP and show IPv6 interface.

One key example of how Looking Glass enhances existing Router Proxy functionality is by allowing commands to be executed on multiple routers (up to 10 devices) instead of just one device at a time. For the past several months we’ve been test-driving Looking Glass within Internet2 and through usability testing with community members (including usability testing at the 2022 Technology Exchange). Being able to run show route commands on several devices at once has proven to be very useful when investigating routing issues. In addition, issuing show BGP commands on several devices at once has proven useful when looking at routing for I2CC L3VPNs.

Looking Glass also remembers your previously-run command history on a per-browser basis. Pressing the play button icon next to a given command in the history inspector executes that command again on the selected devices. This is useful if you need to issue the same command several times. 

It’s also easy to review or share your command outputs from Looking Glass. Your URL changes to match the commands and devices selected in Looking Glass. Opening a saved or shared URL launches Looking Glass with the devices and command pre-selected.

How to Get Started With Looking Glass

Want to use Looking Glass for yourself? Open the Insight Console in your web browser.

The Looking Glass interface includes a list of routing devices on the left, with a filter above that allows you to search by device type or location. In the center are the command line and command output. On the right is the list of supported commands, with your command history below it.

Screenshot of the Looking Glass interface

To get started, here are two commands you can test to get a feel for the interface.

To view the interface parameters for a router, select a device from the list on the left. In the command area (next to 1 node selected >), type “show interfaces ?” and then press the Run Command button or press Enter on your keyboard. An enhancement to the previous Router Proxy service, this output remains available after other commands are executed. You can simply scroll down to see it.

Screenshot of the Looking Glass interface, show interfaces command

To view the interface descriptions for multiple devices, select two routers from the list on the left. In the command area, type “show interfaces desc” and then press the Run Command button. After the command completes, you can choose the selected devices on the left one at a time and see the output for that device specifically. There is also a Copy button at the top right that you can use to copy the output to your clipboard.

Screenshot of the Looking Glass interface, show interface description command

More documentation and support information for Looking Glass is available on the Insight Console Documentation site. As you begin to use Looking Glass, please let us know what we did well and what we can do better using the Insight Console Feedback site.

Next Up

And, before you go … We are beginning to pilot Virtual Networks, another service in the Insight Console, with a small group of community members. Virtual Networks will replace the current OESS/Cloud Connect portal and will allow users to configure and control layer 2 and layer 3 virtual circuits, including those used to build I2CC connections. Stay tuned for details about the migration from OESS to Virtual Networks occurring this summer.