Paving the Path from ClickOps to NetDevOps

By our estimates, most (over 65%) enterprise network activities remain manual today (ClickOps). In contrast, “NetDevOps” has gained popularity among enterprises, network operators and vendors. This term lacks a formal definition, but is typically associated with applying DevOps and/or CI/CD practices to networking activities, resulting in heavily automating operational network tasks including troubleshooting and provisioning. NetDevOps practices drive clear workflows and documentation, which helps with auditing and governance, and troubleshooting. This includes a standard and highly automated workflow, with pre- and post-validation, rollback, documentation and a ton of testing. This term even made the Enterprise Networking Hype Cycle in 2022. Similar terms used to describe this technology include “DevNetOps” “network as code” and “GitOps networking” (side note: we tried to coin this as Netops2.0 back in 2017, probably one of the better pieces of research I’ve ever written …. unfortunately nobody read it ☹).

NetDevOps is not magic, and it is not easy. For example, NetDevOps practices require an accurate repository of up-to-date network information (inventory, location, etc.), which is not common in many enterprises. Further, there is a lack of experience with software development practices within network teams. And if you get by those hurdles, you’re left with the fact that there are few commercial network automation offerings that provide multivendor breadth and feature depth aligned with enterprise needs across data center, cloud, campus, WAN and security domains. Even if you find one of the few, technical debt in the form of heterogeneous environments from a vendor and configuration perspective is another obstacle. And last, it is often more people and process than technology that holds back automation as Inconsistent or undocumented workflows related to network activities limit adoption. At our upcoming IOCS conferences in November (London) and December (Vegas) we will be covering this topic in depth, with a bunch of sessions including:

Network Automation: From Fragile to Agile: This session covers network automation, and how to evolve from “ClickOps” to “NetDevOps”. Today, most network activities are manually driven, which creates inefficiencies and create digital friction. This session includes specific recommendations for automating the network to empower the anywhere business. This session will cover improving the level of network automation to align with agile, DevOps and IaC practices. Topics covered include network automation tools, people and processes.

Technical Insights: Applying Infrastructure-as-Code Method for Network Automation: Organizations want to use Infrastructure as Code (IaC) to automate their network, but the associated technology and processes are overwhelming. This presentation proposed an IaC framework, which starts small but ultimately automates the full lifecycle, including testing.

Automated Testing With Continuous Infrastructure Automation: I&O teams are using IaC pipelines to improve cycle time of delivering infrastructure services. These platforms become critical products for both internal and external customers and need to be evolved and maintained just like any other software products. Platform engineering teams need to integrate testing into their IaC pipelines to reduce the toil involved in testing after updates and upgrades of the platform components.

Hope to see you there,

Andrew

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