As you implement digital transformation strategies, you need to plan for an explosion in traffic growth. Consequently, you need to build data centers using the same state-of-the-art principles the hyperscales have adopted:\n\nA leaf spine Clos design, which accommodates large amounts of east-west traffic, is essential to support today\u2019s web applications\nA multi-hardware vendor strategy, leveraging both established hardware vendors (Arista, Cisco, Dell, Juniper, Mellanox), and open alternatives (Cumulus and OCP hardware)\nMajor investments in automation and analytics for efficient scalable operations.\n\nDoing this right means embracing a disaggregated approach, separating the hardware, choice of network operating system, and automation layer. If you are a regular attendee of the OCP Summit, ONS Conference, or ONUG Conferences, you are familiar with these best-practice approaches deployed by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.\nHardware lock-in versus DIY \u2013 flawed choices\nAs for an automated operational model for your data center network, in engagements with customers and prospects \u2013 webscale companies, service providers and large enterprises \u2013 it is clear that many organizations are facing the same choices:\nChoice 1: Should I use the software that\u2019s provided by a hardware vendor?\nChoice 2: Or should I build my automation and analytics software myself to avoid vendor lock-in? \nBoth choices are flawed. With Choice 1, hardware-vendor provided software will lock an organization into that hardware vendor and it is exceedingly hard to pursue a dual-vendor strategy. How can you believe that switch vendor C would support switch vendor A's hardware even if vendor C claims so, when A is C's most feared competitor? \u00a0\nYet most organizations I have talked to in the past few years want at least two hardware vendors in their data centers.\nAnd with Choice 2, this approach is fraught with danger and risk.\nOrganizations are advised to investigate DIY and multi-vendor commercial solutions carefully. It is important to size the DIY effort carefully - it requires a large team, and it is easy to underestimate the high cost and the many years required to deliver such a critical undertaking.\nIn performing this investigation, it is important for organizations to deploy solutions that don't make you choose between Build and Buy. Organizations should consider commercial solutions that have an extensible platform, so that you can integrate commercial solutions into your environment that meet your requirements.\nWhether organizations decide to take a DIY approach, or adopt commercial solutions, they need to make a proper assessment of all the capabilities that are required - in the case of DIY, these are capabilities that organizations will have to build themselves or integrate. Among these capabilities:\n\nA highly scalable distributed data store\nAbstractions that capture user intent\nA graph representation of all intent and infrastructure state, which captures in real-time all the relationships between objects, e.g. user intent, topology, physical elements (including switches, interfaces, transceivers, links), logical elements (virtual networks, security zones), and telemetry\nExtensible telemetry agents that can extract telemetry across platforms\nDevice drivers across various vendor devices used to both configure, and extract telemetry from these devices\nComprehensive design tools that architecture teams can use to design data center PODs in a matter of minutes\nComprehensive build tools to stand up PODs in minutes\nA continuous validation engine that generates anomaly alerts in real-time anytime infrastructure state deviates from intent\nIntent-based analytics, an integrated big data pipeline that enables the user to configure signatures pertaining to how they\u2019d like their network to run in a matter of minutes\nAn intuitive web interface that one can use to design, build, deploy, and operate these networks with unmatched simplicity.\nExtensible architecture with programmatic APIs - e.g. streaming interfaces, graph queries, plugin modules, and other methods to extend the platform and integrate it within their environment.\n\nFurther, it is important for organizations to realize that the DIY path is not a one-time investment but a forever internal commitment to keep up with best-of-breed and best practices - essentially, they need to build a stellar development team which has as its sole mission to build, continuously improve, and maintain these solutions. \u00a0\nOrganizations should also plan the roadmap that's required to keep up with their ever-growing requirements and use cases. They'll need to have the ability to deliver features at the speed of the business\u2026on an ongoing basis.\nI\u2019ve seen organizations spend $20M over 2 years investing in DIY and get nowhere. DIY requires the ability to hire dozens of top software engineers and have them focused on building the solution from the ground up. As important, DIY requires the ability to retain those top engineers, so they are able to support the solution they\u2019ve built over many years. To quote Tsvi Gal, CTO at Morgan Stanley, at a recent ONUG event, \u201cthe worst vendor lock-in is our own \u2026 We are basically locked into our own environment.\u201d\nInnovative organizations like Yahoo Japan Corporation have shown that there is now a much better path \u2013 a choice that was not available to the original hyperscales \u2013 Facebook, Google, Amazon - when they built out their automation solution.\nChoice 3. Use a commercial solution that works across multiple hardware vendors and that would enable you to automate your entire processes involved in designing, building, and operating your data center networks \u2013 day 0, day 1 and day 2+\nWith today's state-of-the-art multi-vendor commercial solutions, you can meet all the requirements laid out above. Furthermore, with today\u2019s commercial options, organizations have the full range of hardware vendors to choose from in their dual-vendor strategy, and can avoid lock-in. Yet in doing so, you don\u2019t have to build and retain a world leading development team to reinvent the wheel and recreate an integrated solution that enables a fully automated operational model. \u00a0\nAnd, you can focus your management and development talent on areas that are strategic to your business.