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As enterprise infrastructure continues to become more complex and dynamic, it’s harder for network operations teams to manage using a traditional approach. The pace of modern software development requires better network processes that don’t rely on manual configurations and basic command-line scripts. That’s why many organizations are adopting network automation, network orchestration, and other tactics from DevOps to improve network operations.

In this post, we’ll explain NetDevOps and the benefits of DevOps practices within network operations. We’ll also cover different ways that network automation can help organizations shift to a NetDevOps approach.

What is NetDevOps?

NetDevOps (also called NetOps 2.0) is an approach to network operations that improves infrastructure agility, reliability, and transparency by adopting many DevOps concepts like automation, orchestration, and continuous monitoring. These modern principles have become crucial as companies shift to the cloud and operate in faster-paced digital environments.

Bringing together development and IT operations teams under a DevOps strategy has helped many organizations deliver software more efficiently and reliably. This typically involves implementing automation and orchestration within the software development process to achieve CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous development), continuous testing, continuous monitoring, and more.

Similarly, a modern NetDevOps strategy typically combines network automation, network orchestration, and network observability. This means automating infrastructure tasks at a lower level, orchestrating entire end-to-end network processes, and continuously collecting feedback to support the rapid pace of DevOps workflows.

Why Organizations Are Adopting NetDevOps

Although every application needs infrastructure to run it, the software development process was usually separate from networking in the past. By bridging the gap between DevOps and NetOps, a NetDevOps approach can lead to more agile, resilient, and transparent enterprise networks that can handle fast-paced application deployments.

  • Greater Agility: NetDevOps prioritizes faster and more efficient network changes using automation instead of requiring network engineers to perform manual tasks. This leads to more agile infrastructure that can respond to constantly changing network conditions in real time.
  • Improve Resilience: NetDevOps strives to eliminate manual effort by standardizing and automating many network operations processes, which can also reduce human error and help ensure compliance with internal governance policies. Network changes that are consistent and predictable lead to more resilient and reliable infrastructure.
  • Enhanced Transparency: NetDevOps focused on continuous monitoring and observability, which improves visibility into current network conditions across on-premises and cloud environments. This helps network teams identify and remediate network issues before they impact availability or reliability.

Key Elements of NetDevOps

Since NetDevOps has largely borrowed ideas from DevOps, many popular tools that software teams use have introduced network automation capabilities as well. Here are some of the most common network automation and orchestration tools to consider when shifting to a NetDevOps approach:

  • Infrastructure as code (IaC): This means using code to automatically provision software environments, whether it’s on a virtual machine, in the cloud, or using Kubernetes. By creating templates in a language like JSON or YAML, NetDevOps teams can quickly and consistently spin up complex infrastructure. Popular IaC tools include Terraform and AWS CloudFormation.
  • Configuration management: This involves defining the desired state of a software environment in code and then continuously analyzing the infrastructure to avoid misconfigurations, undocumented changes, or configuration drift. Configuration management tools like Ansible, Chef, and Puppet focus on installing and managing software once the infrastructure has been provisioned.
  • Orchestration: This is a way to coordinate multiple automated tasks across different devices, vendors, environments, and more. Orchestration involves developing workflows that ensure entire network processes are executed quickly and consistently without human intervention. Network orchestration tools include Cisco Crosswork Network Services Orchestrator and Ansible.
  • Observability: This involves collecting, analyzing, and acting on data generated by network devices and environments in real-time. A tool like Nautobot can centralize and manage the data that forms the intent of the network infrastructure to drive network automation and orchestration efforts.

Scaling Network Automation

While many organizations find it easy to automate simple network tasks, it often becomes challenging to scale network automation across entire enterprise networks. More often than not, the technology and technical skills required for network automation aren’t nearly as challenging as the organizational aspects.

That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help leaders develop a strategy to adopt network automation at scale throughout their organization. We offer practical advice that will help your organization overcome some of the most common roadblocks we’ve seen our clients face.

Download our whitepaper to learn more: Adopting Network Automation: Practical Advice for Leaders.


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