The Importance of NetDevOps Automation for Modern Networks

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The NetDevOps methodology is all about removing barriers and encouraging open collaboration between network, development, and operations teams. NetDevOps automation is what enables this collaboration to happen in real-time.

Let’s look at the key areas where automated NetDevOps practices can benefit your enterprise through software-defined networking, network function virtualization, software-defined wide area networking, and datacenter infrastructure management automation.

What is NetDevOps automation?

Network automation for NetDevOps focuses on eliminating manual device configurations and simplifying your infrastructure through virtualization and consolidation. Four key areas for NetDevOps automation are:

  • Software-defined networking, or SDN, uses software-based controllers to direct network traffic on virtual or hardware infrastructure.
  • Network function virtualization, or NFV, replaces physical networking appliances with virtual machines controlled by a hypervisor or SDN controller.
  • Software-defined wide area networking, or SD-WAN, separates traffic management and monitoring functions from the underlying hardware and makes them available as software.
  • Datacenter infrastructure management, or DCIM, unifies the management of all your remote and datacenter appliances under one control panel.

This article focuses on the network automation side of NetDevOps, but automating the Dev and Ops portion is also essential.

DevOps automation

On the development side, test automation and CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) focus on constantly checking new code for bugs and security vulnerabilities to streamline the deployment process.

On the operations side, automation seeks to eliminate manual configuration and provisioning of development, testing, and production systems using IaC (infrastructure as code). Using IaC, server configurations are written as software code that can run through the CI/CD automated testing process to ensure conformity and reduce human error.

The importance of NetDevOps automation for modern networks

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into NetDevOps automation for network teams.

Software-defined networking for NetDevOps

Software-defined networking (SDN) takes the control plane for physical and virtual network devices and makes it available as centrally-managed software. This allows you to create or change configurations for all your devices from one place, and then automatically deploy or roll-back those configurations at the press of a button. Your network appliance configurations can also run through the CI/CD process, just like software code and IaC, so you can perform automated testing to ensure that there are no errors or security vulnerabilities. This automated, software-based approach to network management provides numerous benefits, including:

  • Increased team efficiency: SDN saves time and reduces human error, which improves the
    overall efficiency of your NetDevOps teams. Using SDN, your network engineers can create one software-based configuration file and deploy it many times, rather than manually entering CLI commands on every new device. This saves time, freeing your teams up to work on more business-critical tasks. Plus, with SDN you know every device receives the same configuration every time, which minimizes the risk of human error and makes it easier to pinpoint any errors that do show up.
  • Improved routing intelligence: SDN provides centralized management and a holistic view of your entire network, which empowers you to improve your routing intelligence and optimize your network traffic. You can use SDN’s centralized control panel to create pre-defined load balancing, performance, and bandwidth policies, then use those policies to intelligently and automatically route traffic on your network. For instance, if there’s a traffic spike at one datacenter, your load balancing policies can automatically re-route certain traffic (say, remote or branch office traffic) to an alternate site that can handle those requests.
  • Enhanced security capabilities: SDN supports and simplifies network micro-segmentation enabling you to implement advanced security methodologies such as zero trust security. Without SDN, creating new micro-segments is often a manual process involving tedious tasks like mapping network dependencies or configuring and deploying new appliances. Since SDN provides a central control panel with software-defined configurations that can be automatically deployed at will, micro-segmentation for zero trust security is much easier, allowing you to get more granular and specific with your policies and security controls.

You should consider software-defined networking for NetDevOps automation if your organization is looking for a more efficient networking team, a more optimized network, and an easier way to implement zero trust security.

Network function virtualization for NetDevOps

Network function virtualization (NFV) is simply the virtualization of networking appliances like routers and switches. NFV separates the communication services—e.g., load balancing, routing, firewall security—from the physical hardware they usually live on, and instead makes them available as software. You can then program and control all your virtual networking devices from a central hypervisor or an SDN controller, providing the opportunity for network automation and orchestration.

NFV enhances the capabilities and benefits of SDN by further abstracting the control functions of your network and removing even more physical devices from your infrastructure. Since NFV runs on virtual machines rather than hardware appliances, you can reduce and consolidate your network infrastructure, making it easier to manage. Fewer appliances also means you spend less money on hardware and colocation costs. Plus, scaling virtual infrastructure with NFV is faster and cheaper than physical infrastructure because you can spin up virtual machines and applications with the click of a button and automatically apply configurations via SDN.

You should think about NFV for your NetDevOps automation if you’re hoping to consolidate and simplify your network infrastructure, reduce datacenter costs, and enable fast and easy network scaling.

Software-defined wide area networking for NetDevOps

Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) separates the traffic management and monitoring functions from your WAN hardware so you can apply intelligent routing to your remote and branch office traffic. SD-WAN looks at your WAN traffic to determine where it’s headed, and then chooses the most efficient route to that destination based on current network conditions and availability.

SD-WAN makes it easier to orchestrate and control your WAN architecture because it decouples management from the physical software, allowing you to do everything with software.SD-WAN also provides easy scalability by allowing you to automatically deploy new branch office configurations, quickly add new cloud services, and dynamically optimize routing paths to incorporate new resources and locations.

If you’re looking for an easier and more efficient way to manage and optimize your WAN traffic, then you could benefit from SD-WAN for NetDevOps automation.

Datacenter infrastructure management for NetDevOps

Datacenter infrastructure management (DCIM) software provides centralized management and control over datacenter resources. You can use DCIM to gain visibility on all your physical and digital assets, no matter where they’re located, from behind one pane of glass. DCIM automation focuses on discovering and tracking assets (both physical and in the cloud), monitoring and optimizing resources, and provisioning and configuring new devices.

For example, zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) allows you to deploy remote devices without needing an engineer to stage configurations or manually install the hardware. ZTP devices use DHCP or TFTP to communicate with a server that provides configuration files or images that the device downloads and runs automatically. That means you can ship a new switch to a remote datacenter and have a local employee plug the device in and connect it to the network. From there, ZTP handles all the steps that are usually performed on-site by a network engineer.

DCIM automation with ZTP allows you to scale up your datacenter operations quickly and easily deploy new infrastructure. Your engineers can spend less time staging networking appliances or traveling to remote datacenters, allowing you to allocate your resources to more important projects. DCIM automation also provides a central control panel that you can use to manage all your datacenter infrastructure from anywhere in the world.

If you’re interested in bringing NetDevOps automation to your remote datacenter management, then you should look for DCIM solutions that support automation and zero-touch provisioning.

Kickstart NetDevOps automation on your network with Nodegrid

NetDevOps automation provides many opportunities to simplify and optimize your network management using software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualization (NFV), software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), and datacenter infrastructure management (DCIM) with zero-touch provisioning (ZTP).

Are you looking for a way to kickstart NetDevOps automation on your enterprise network? The Nodegrid family of datacenter management solutions can help. For example, serial console servers running the Nodegrid OS can automatically discover and analyze new datacenter devices, allowing for greater efficiency and scalability. Plus, Nodegrid’s vendor-neutral network management software helps you control and orchestrate your entire architecture from behind one pane of glass.

Contact ZPE Systems today to learn more about how Nodegrid can kickstart NetDevOps automation on your network.