According to Gartner, “technology refresh drives most enterprise network investment today.” Digital transformations and infrastructure modernization efforts are top priority for technology leaders. Alongside these efforts, though, I&O networking leaders are still asked to “deliver increasing automation and secure networks” even as network infrastructure evolves, sprawls, and becomes distributed across new domains.
Therefore, successfully approaching a technology refresh or modernization requires a rethinking of traditional methods and tooling. Automation is the key to delivering services at scale, especially as networks continue to grow, so teams and leaders are looking to new strategies and technologies. Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Enterprise Networking highlights key technologies from mature industry tools to emerging innovations that teams and leaders should look to leverage for their networks. Key movements like NetDevOps and ZTNA alongside the rise in ‘As-A-Service’ offerings and cloud-centric services are providing the tools for enterprises to transform their networks to serve today’s business goals.
Interpreting the Hype: Why Is Enterprise Networking Evolving?
Network infrastructure is fundamental to modern digital business. Almost every business process that involves a customer or end user will require changes to be made to the network. Because networks are so critical, it can be “difficult for enterprises to rapidly absorb new networking technologies, due to the potential impact of a network issue.” However, leaving the benefits that new technologies promise on the table will limit organizations’ abilities to operate with flexibility and agility in today’s landscape. Therefore, significant technologies that Gartner notes as “high-impact” should be top priorities for technology leaders, since they can transform how networks are operated across entire organizations.
This year’s report focuses on SD-WAN, NetDevOps, and SASE as the three biggest technology areas that will mature within 5 years. In addition, 5G, digital experience monitoring (DEM), and universal zero-trust network access (ZTNA) are slated to mature within the same time frame.
Today’s network teams need to be able to move fast, keeping up with the pace of modern IT by adopting new technologies and domains seamlessly without impacting the bottom line. The technologies included in the hype cycle chart above help organizations modernize by shaking up their toolset to eliminate traditional “best practices” that are no longer relevant. As Gartner puts it, leaders can use the technologies listed to “deliver the right amount of networking at the right time and cost to support the business’ digital objectives.”
Itential is featured specifically in the NetDevOps section of the report, highlighting the sets of practices and types of tooling that make up the strategy. Let’s dive in to why NetDevOps is so important to modern enterprise networks.
NetDevOps & Its Importance for Evolving Enterprise Network Automation
NetDevOps is an approach to network automation that involves applying DevOps and CI/CD practices to networking activities to build a unified set of tools and methods across which both cloud and network teams can manage infrastructure deployments and changes. Organizations who adopt NetDevOps see much more collaboration between formerly isolated networking teams and the rest of IT, with standardized automation tooling and the ability for different network and IT systems to easily interact with each other. It’s about adopting technology that enables the shift, but it’s also about developing that shift in mindset within an organization to transform how teams approach network and IT automation in the first place.
Gartner names NetDevOps the most likely transformational technology to mature in the next two to five years, along with SASE. Its hype is increasing because more technology leaders are coming to recognize its importance in bringing together cloud teams and network teams — automating across modern infrastructure requires those silos to be broken down.
Currently, NetDevOps is in the ‘adolescent’ phase of its market maturity, with a market penetration of about 1-5% according to Gartner’s research. However, its benefits are classified as ‘Transformational.’
With a growing need to automate comprehensively across distributed infrastructure, Gartner states that “traditional approaches to network provisioning are not sufficiently agile or reliable.” NetDevOps practices can help automate testing to reduce errors and downtime and improve an organization’s ability to adopt and integrate new infrastructure technologies. Organizations who take the step forward and adopt a unified NetDevOps approach “can improve agility, reduce toil, and increase reliability.”
What Leaders Can Take Away From the Hype Cycle
NetDevOps is one of the most significant technologies listed in the report, along with other fast movers like SASE, SD-WAN, and AI. At Itential, we’ve seen a lot of organizations at various stages of their network and infrastructure modernization journeys. In that time, we’ve consistently seen NetDevOps approaches lead to success as teams begin to adopt the strategy.
From our perspective, NetDevOps has proven to be a strong base for adopting more technologies and further transforming your network. The new approaches that enable more integration between technologies and more collaboration between IT teams make the process of adopting new technologies and services seamless. Therefore, we recommend that leaders exploring modernization and transformation for their enterprise networks should look to NetDevOps as early in their journey as possible, to set up for success down the road.