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.

Chris is technically creative, hard working, and extraordinarily effective at working with both internal and external technical expert communities. A pleasure to have had on the team at CableLabs. I fully expect him to significantly move his organization and the industry.

Tom Lookabaugh, CableLabs

Chris is always happy to contribute to a discussion or to an issue and is more than happy to lend a hand to both assist team members with their tasks or to lend his expertise in order to benefit the requestor. He is constantly providing knowledge transfer in a peer to peer manner, engaging others to work together to move a project forward or to resolve an issue. Most importantly, Chris is an open and honest communicator about whatever the topic of the moment is, something that is refreshing in today’s world. I could always count of Chris to lend his opinion or his ideas to any subject matter, and this becomes an important contribution for any team. Chris has tremendous talent and is a very hard working, team player. I would welcome Chris to my team at any point in the future.

Paul Diamond, Markley

Chris is a superior problem-solver with great people skills and ability to ask the really hard questions. A team player who is engaged and approachable, I expect Chris will have significant impact in the tech industry.

Deb Gerring, CableLabs

Chris is an engineer and leader of the highest caliber as demonstrated by his ongoing volunteer responsibilities within the Internet technical community and his unwavering drive.

Connie Kendig, Internet Society

Chris is a great asset to any company. His dedication and drive for results makes him a consistent high achiever.

Henry Yu, tw telecom

Chris is an exceptionally energetic individual, a talented thinker and an accomplished public speaker. He is a very rewarding person to work with due to the level of organization he brings to every project. He has vision and probity, a rare combination. I has been a great privilege to work with him.

John Springer, ARIN Advisory Council

I enjoy working with him on a professional and personal level.

Diane Turley, tw telecom

It was a pleasure to work with Chris. Chris possesses very detailed technical knowledge and solid experience, but never lost sight of his strategic and business goals when using that knowledge and experience.

Graham McKinley, Overture Networks

I count my time working with Chris among my most rewarding professional experiences. Chris is someone with a voracious appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the world around him. While these traits make him an incredible thought partner that excels at introducing new concepts and riffing off the ideas of others…it also makes him a multiplier, someone that helps others sharpen their own thinking by forcing them to be more introspective, to be more curious about what’s possible, and to think critically and objectively about the reality of a situation.

Chris is a tide that raises many boats, not just through his ability to cultivate innovation and promote positive disruption, but by the example he sets. Chris is one of the most accountable people I’ve ever known and consistently demonstrated a knack for bringing order to chaos, prioritizing diffuse – and often conflicting – objectives, and producing positive outcomes in situations where the deck seemed stacked in such a way that that doing so appeared impossible.

Rick Kenney, Myriad360

Chris is very knowledgeable, is always willing to explain and discuss, and is great at pulling together everyone’s input and moving things forward. Working with him has been a great experience.

Lisa Ruby, Motorola

Chris was one of the go-to guys whenever there were complex problems. He has the knowledge, desire and potential to advance in any position he chooses. It was a pleasure working with him.

Ushesh Desai, Virtela Communications

Chris was an amazing colleague to work with. I admire his ability to understand very technical concepts as well as business and market driven ones. He has amazing stakeholder management skills, and has the ability to build relationships and manage working groups and teams. He is a true leader who is very passionate about whatever he is working on. His desire for framing strategic direction and leading execution would be an asset to any organization. I would welcome any opportunity to work with Chris again.

Rupal Patel, CableLabs

Chris has the talent to completely embrace and encompass a technology and from that drive results. It is obvious that Chris enjoys sharing his knowledge base and ideas with others. It was a pleasure working with Chris.

John McQueen, Broadcom