Expand Network Automation Participation

Bridge the skills gap across IT and networking and enable multiple roles and departments to contribute to network automation.

Achieving NetDevOps Nirvana

Once in a world where hardware and physical cabling ruled all, network operations were dominated by people with specialized skills in those areas. Every action required touching the device itself, and the closest thing to a software-centric skill was CLI scripting.

With the introduction of virtualization, software-defined networking, network programmability, and APIs for everything from management systems to devices themselves, the modern network landscape has evolved to being managed like software. This shift from being hardware-focused to a software-centric, modern network has a profound effect on the management techniques and skillsets required.

Up until now, it was enough for network engineers to operate in a vacuum and have sole ownership of their domain. With the new software-centric approach to network operations, new skillsets are required, while still leveraging existing network knowledge. Having network engineers who understand how the network operates is critical, but it’s time to expand network management and automation to other roles in the organization, from CloudOps to IT to software engineers, in order to truly realize the benefits of end-to-end network automation.

Itential’s primary mission is to provide software that enables network engineers, software engineers, IT operations, and CloudOps teams to participate in network automation and enable all groups to operate efficiently in their day-to-day activities. This means tools tailored to the strengths of each role that simultaneously shore up the deficiencies each has.

Target NetOps Skills

  • Network scripting (for example, Ruby, Python, or YAML)
  • Network automation & orchestration tools (such as Ansible and Puppet)
  • Network device API (such as NETCONF and YANG)
  • Public cloud networking (such as AWS, GCP, or Azure) and associated APIs
  • Software Principles (such as agile, CI/CD, and modern development)

Network Engineer

The network engineer role used to be one where network knowledge, vendor-specific details, and mastery of the CLI was enough. Due to the evolution of the network and the introduction of new automation technologies, it has become increasingly important that network engineers also have some level of development skill. Unfortunately, the “Network Engineering Developer” is one of the rarest resources in the industry and most network operators are lucky if they have one or two. Due to the skills gap that exists, Itential focuses on putting tools in the network engineer’s hands that eliminates this issue with a low-code approach to advanced network automation. This is accomplished by providing:

  • Automation Gateway for integrating with and transforming custom-built Script,
    Ansible, and Terraform artifacts into APIs for use in automation workflows.
  • Automation Studio that allows for low-code creation of sophisticated network automation processes as simply as dragging-and-dropping tasks onto a canvas.
  • Command Templates for low-code inclusion of device commands commonly used in the CLI within the network automation processes.
  • Configuration Manager that provides powerful device management, definition of standardized configuration, compliance auditing, and remediation of discrepancies found.

Software Engineer

In parallel with the evolution of the network engineer role, the software developer has seen similar changes in their world. Software and network are on an accelerated path toward convergence where the value of software is greatly diminished without network components being included, and the network is literally becoming software. It is therefore becoming essential that software engineers have some understanding of the network and how it operates. Additionally, software engineers are pulled into network automation efforts as the required skillsets exceed what network engineers can do today. In order to bridge the network knowledge gap that exists with software engineers Itential provides:

  • Adapter Builder that provides a standardized framework for development of new adapters to integrate with third-party systems.
  • Pre-Built Automations such as workflows, templates, forms, and service models that remove the need for the software engineers to know the network as well as network engineers.
  • Automation Services that are freely available, API-enabled web-based services from Itential that provide a host of useful features that will help in the development of new network automations.

CloudOps

Cloud-focused engineering teams have been responsible for the expansion of applications and workloads into cloud platforms. As more critical applications, workloads and services are migrated into multiple cloud platforms, the infrastructure has evolved and become more complex. Instead of managing a few VPCs, Cloud Engineers have seen growth to hundreds of VPCs in multiple AWS regions along with managing more deployments across multiple cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). With this growth, the underlying network infrastructure has become more important, more complicated, and requires interaction and engagement with the Networking team in order to build and manage services across multiple clouds and on-prem data centers.

  • Integration with CI/CD tools and services to enable Network Infrastructure as Code.

Check out Itential’s Developer Hub.