Managing networks is challenging, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. Despite enhancements to network observability and manageability, enabled by the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), many network management tasks still require manual intervention by highly-trained personnel. And with post-COVID-19 “new normal” efforts split between supporting full-scale, on-premises environments and full-scale, remote access for home-based employees, NetOps teams need to work smarter by utilizing fully automated solutions based on proven DevOps principles.
NetDevOps is the application of DevOps principles and techniques to network operations (NetOps), minimizing operator interactions and optimizing programmable network processes to configure, deploy, and manage the environment. Prioritizing alignment with business objectives over network control, NetDevOps—also known as DevNetOps, network automation, or intent-based networking (IBN)—relies on automation and intelligent infrastructure management to increase efficiency and ensure network availability, quality, and reliability.
NetDevOps encompasses the abstraction, codification, and implementation of network Infrastructure as Code (IaC), using programmed, automated workflows to eliminate configuration drift, thereby embedding quality and resiliency within the network. A continuous integration, delivery, and deployment pipeline ships code through the different development environments into production, triggering comprehensive validation and compliance tests along the way. NetDevOps also includes continuous monitoring, measurement, and response, automatically triggering remediation alerts or tasks when detecting configuration drift from the desired state.
NetDevOps alleviates challenges and increases agility by applying DevOps behaviors, culture, and principles to network operations. It minimizes manual administrative tasks (such as configuration changes, service provisioning, and security tasks), reducing human error as one of the root causes of network downtime.
And by automating the planning, configuration, testing, and deployment of network infrastructure, the NetDevOps pipeline reduces the lead time between development and implementation. In addition, it enables small incremental changes to be injected into the network with minimal effort and zero end-user impact, resulting in increased agility, quality, and speed of operations.
This report provides an overview of the vendor landscape based on the following table stakes, which are mature, stable solution features common across all vendors:
Automated workflows: Automated workflows provide complete lifecycle management functionality to configure, deploy, and upgrade network elements seamlessly. A collection of carefully orchestrated building blocks, automated workflows split higher-level activities into subtasks linked to network events, triggering either proactive or reactive actions encompassing inventory checks, pre-checks, post-checks, show-commands, user forms and approvals, scheduled background tasks, and other tasks.
State awareness: The state of the network is monitored in real-time with full protocol and transport neutrality. Awareness of automated network infrastructure deployments and implementations is required to ensure the desired network state is achieved and maintained. State awareness enables the continuous synchronization of the network state and configuration in real-time using open, state-streaming APIs. It also provides advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning analytics capabilities for visibility, troubleshooting, and compliance.
Infrastructure as code (IaC): Network configurations are abstracted as code for replication, reuse, repurpose, or testing, providing optimal resource usage. Used in conjunction with continuous delivery, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) manages infrastructure (connection topologies, load balancers, networks, and virtual machines) in a descriptive model to reduce environment drift by eliminating inconsistencies leading to deployment issues requiring manual resolution. Furthermore, based on the principle of idempotence, IaC ensures you always end up with the same end state, irrespective of the starting state.
On-demand elasticity: On-demand elasticity is the ability to spin up and down test, development, and sandbox infrastructure environments on demand without jeopardizing compliance, governance, performance, security, or stability. Unlike scalability, for which resources are added to accommodate larger loads, elasticity allows network resources to be dynamically added or removed based on changing application traffic patterns such as seasonal or peak traffic surges.
Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD): Commonly associated with DevOps, CI/CD supports agile networking with continuous integration, delivery, and deployment. Closely integrated with on-demand elasticity, CI/CD for networks represents the ability to spin up network infrastructure services using tools familiar to application developers—such as Bitbucket, Docker, GitLab, GitHub, and Jenkins—on an as-needed basis.
Self-service access: Robust, role-based self-service access to network infrastructures—such as DHCP, DNS, firewalls, load balancers, and other network services—allows development teams to consume networking services easily and quickly. Eliminating network team provisioning and configuration bottlenecks, self-service access allows application delivery teams to initiate the automated deployment and configuration of network services while ensuring compliance.
The list of vendors included in this report is by no means exhaustive. As a new sector meeting the demand for agile networking, we anticipate rapid evolution in the next 18-36 months. New players will emerge with lean, innovative solutions, while established networking vendors will compete by acquiring solution vendors and expanding critical partnerships. With many different NetDevOps vendors and options available—and the landscape evolving—choosing the best NetDevOps solution for your organization depends on your use cases, existing software stack, architectural choices, and in-house capabilities.
We recommend using this report to explore the different NetDevOps solutions and delivery models available on the market, identifying solutions and vendors matching your business requirements, use cases, and capabilities. Then contact the relevant vendors for additional information on features, deployment models, and cost.
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