We’ve already discussed that Out-of-Band plays a critical role in NetOps automation, but today we’ll really get into how the two work together. (Read Part 1 Here)
NetOps is, in part, an evolution of DevOps. It’s a mindset that fosters communication, collaboration, integration and automation among software developers and operational IT teams. Today, we are seeing DevOps tools increasingly applied to networking. This has created a NetOps approach to building and maintaining a reliable infrastructure to support evolving demands.
NetOps Put Into Practice
One approach to introducing NetOps into an enterprise is to layer it into an existing system. This adds functionality and flexibility to a familiar component of the infrastructure. An independent management plane, like Out-of-Band, already provides presence and proximity to critical network devices, so it’s well-placed to bring NetOps automation to your network. It’s there on Day One, enabling the deployment process to be managed via a centralized management software and ensuring network equipment can effectively self-configure.
It’s also there for the standard day-to-day process of keeping the network running. Out-of-Band provides an alternative route to remediate the network when it’s down. The separate management plane is the facilitator, giving engineers the infrastructure to make use of NetOps today and in the future, whatever the approach evolves into over time.
NetOps for Network Engineers
These tools and capabilities are already changing the nature of the network engineer’s role. Engineers have traditionally followed a manual process with most of their time working on the command line interface (CLI) typing in a range of esoteric commands. Over time, that shifted to engineers wanting to use a graphical user interface (GUI) – a more intuitive approach which doesn’t require the learning of specific commands. To fully automate their approach, they’re increasingly using NetOps.
NetOps has become so prevalent because of the growing complexity of modern IT networks. Most enterprises have more distributed networks than before. This has caused the network engineer role to evolve.
Organizations need a more automated approach to networking which NetOps has provided, reducing a lot of the repetitive applications and routines that engineers would typically have had to run through previously. Most companies would expect an engineer to log in, run through five or six routines to work out what was happening and then remediate the problem if an outage occurs, but with NetOps, remediation is a lot easier.
NetOps can automate that entire procedure so that when that event happens, the system automatically runs through those five or six steps. If that resolves the problem, all well and good. If not, the issue is escalated to the network engineer to handle the next level of troubleshooting. This simplifies the process while also removing human error because so many downtime incidents are caused by someone pushing a wrong configuration, or typing in the wrong letters when they are sending commands. By using a NetOps approach to correctly program an automation routine, an enterprise can effectively reduce these challenges.
NetOps is concerned with automation and reducing human error. With so many new data centers, and more network locations moving out to the edge, there are not enough engineers available to comprehensively staff and support all these sites. Businesses can use NetOps tools to concentrate their resources at a Network Operations Center with ‘follow the sun’ support regardless of time zone, rather than having to find resources to staff each and every site. This saves time and money.
In Part 3 of our blog series we’ll discuss how an independent management plane and NetOps reduces downtime.