Expand Network Automation Across Multiple Roles

Bridge the skills gap across IT and networking & 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 DevOps to IT to software developers, to truly realize the benefits of end-to-end automation.

Itential’s primary mission is to provide software that enables network engineers, software developers and IT operations to participate in network automation, bridge the skills gap 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

  • Linux, as many modern network operating systems and automation tools are based on and/or support Linux shell.
  • Network scripting (for example, Ruby, Python or YAML).
  • Network automation and orchestration tools (such as Ansible and Puppet).
  • Network device API understanding (such as Netconf and YANG).
  • Public cloud networking understanding (such as AWS or Azure), and associated APIs.

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:

  • Workflow Builder 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. Learn More > 

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 Template that provides a standardized framework for development of new adapters to integrate with third-party systems.
  • App Template that provides a rapid prototype and development method for creating custom applications that run within the Itential Automation Platform.
  • Pre-Built Components 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.

DevOps

In some way software development and IT operations personnel have always played a role in the management of the network, but it was usually relegated to only integration of tools and implementation of server hardware for networking tools to be installed upon. The introduction of a DevOps role to network automation is a new development, which has become a necessity for a couple of reasons. As the network has become more software-centric the idea of applying a software development lifecycle to network automation has quickly become a requirement. With the introduction of agile, flexible, and dynamic network technologies it has become necessary that the management tools used to manage that network also operate in this manner. This means an introduction of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery processes and tools that DevOps engineers are expert in operating and maintaining. To support DevOps engineers in working with the Itential Automation Platform we provide:

  • Git Strategy that includes DevOps process and tools, such as git-based repositories, for how to automatically manage the components involved.
  • CI/CD Pipelines connected to the repositories to provide for automated test, build, and deployment processes.
  • Adapter Wizard that provides a rapid prototype and development method for creating new adapters to integrate with third-party systems, as well as a catalog of out of the box adapters.

Find out more about Itential Network Automation.