Enabling The Future Network Through Automation

by | October 25, 2017
Enabling The Future Network Through Automation

In a recent keynote Marcus Weldon (Bell Labs President and Nokia CTO) and Vint Cerf (ForMemRS) put forth the idea that IoT is going to have such a profound impact on the world that it could essentially dissolve country boundaries. According to comments on this keynote by Keri Kukral (CEO & Founder at Raw Science), who was in attendance, “Humans care about 150 people in close proximity. Tribal lines could dissolve and become local based on network.” This is pretty Earth-shaking stuff based on how we think of our world right now.

This was not the full focus of the keynote, but it was the takeaway that was most shocking. A lot of the other points made are what you would expect, and they name this future environment “Future X Network”.

They put forth the journey to this with the diagram below from the presentation deck linked in the article:


This aligns pretty well with where most of the industry is headed with virtualization of the network. For this to ever be successful the cloud has to be at the edge.

I am going to shift my focus away from the details to focus on the chink in the armor of “Future X Network”. That chink is automation.

Current approaches aren’t effective enough to keep up with today’s network automation needs, and a major operational gap is being created as the new virtualization technology and tooling is implemented. This gap is widening quickly as these new tools grow in number, and with the addition of IoT the tooling is not the only thing growing. This is also bringing an explosion in number of devices to manage and the data generated by those devices. It isn’t part of my point here, but application of big data concepts is going become critical as well.

With all of this colliding at a bullseye that your ops staff happens to occupy, we should all be very concerned…or hope that the very cool future put forth in the linked deck just doesn’t happen.

The answer is cross-domain automation that leverages the legacy tooling, enables a programmable interface to legacy networks, but is also able to interface with the API driven automation that will be possible with “Future X Network” technologies.

This solution should:

  • Not care whether the entity it is managing is virtual or physical
  • Provide a single management interface to automate everything in the network
  • Expose these centralized capabilities northbound via APIs that other external entities can leverage them

The bottom line? This future sounds very cool. This future might have world changing impact on us, IF adoption rates are high. Today’s (failed) approach to automation will not allow this to happen. We must evolve with how we automate networks, and that is what we are all about at Itential…it is core to our point of view.

Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore served as the Director of Network Automation Strategy at Itential where he was responsible for managing the delivery of services to implement network automation for clients leveraging both Itential products and custom developed solutions before his passing in 2019.

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