If you have a dev-centric background, you must have heard about the term DevOps. Before DevOps was called DevOps, the two disciplines (“Dev” and “Ops”) were growing further apart. Developers (the “Dev” part of the story) have had a desire for agility since the turn of the century, following the publication of the famous Manifesto for Agile Development. Meanwhile, Operations (the “Ops” part) formalized good practices into frameworks such as ITIL, which were implemented by most large companies in the mid-2000s.
Those two approaches seemed to oppose. While Agile advocates the acceleration and multiplication of changes, ITIL tends to limit and control them. However, DevOps flourished as a combination of both methodologies and concepts, while organizations strived to accelerate the launch of innovative services and applications. Moreover, DevOps has led to increased proactivity through systematic automation and continuous monitoring which enables faster issue detection and resolution.
Now that a third player is entering the mix with NetDevOps, what can we expect from it? Network operations manage what many perceive to be a complex, fragile environment. Network teams are fearful of delivering the level of agility required by new digital initiatives, because of potential network disruptions. As a result, the risk arises of another “wall of confusion” caused by a conflicting combination of motivations, processes, and tools.
NetDevOps aims to extend agility
However, “Net,” “Dev,” and “Ops” are likely to converge on many aspects. Networking technology trends have followed the same path as data center trends. Programmable, software-defined, and cloud-based network environments have made NetDevOps a reality through the use of infrastructure-as-code and automation.
According to industry analysts, NetDevOps is among the most hyped innovations in networking. Successful NetDevOps initiatives would look like fully automated environments that can deploy and test configuration changes across networks, ready to be consumed in a DevOps approach all along the CI/CD pipeline.
There’s a catch though. NetDevOps remains an emerging transformational process. Most adopters still lack adequate tooling, such as continuous monitoring. This makes it difficult to understand how the software-defined infrastructure is performing in test, staging, and production conditions. NetDevOps teams are then faced with significant challenges in getting continuous feedback for validating or improving their delivery processes. The challenges include:
- Understanding the user experience before and after infrastructure changes are pushed and pinpointing issues early before they have an impact.
- Diving back into the history of changes, and determining the impact on the infrastructure throughput and the digital experience.
- Forecasting possible bottlenecks owing to configuration changes and variations in the traffic patterns.
Most modern software-defined network platforms provide a reasonable level of integrated monitoring features. However, network operations are running short of options when seeking the root cause of user experience degradation, especially when multiple ISPs and network device vendors are involved. In order to continuously validate the user experience delivered by their software-defined networks, organizations need real-time analytics capabilities to gain insights into the end-to-end digital experience, traffic management complexities, and device configuration.
As organizations are pressured to increase the agility of network operations processes, traditional monitoring practices can be a roadblock to successful NetDevOps adoption. Without pre- and post-change validation of the end-user experience, risk-averse network teams will be wary of managing a larger volume of changes more quickly with the potential risk to production infrastructure.
In the very near future, approaches such as NetDevOps will become mainstream; agile network teams will have to guarantee reliable connections and consistent digital experience on a continuous basis. Now is therefore the time to review your network monitoring strategies, and evolve traditional NetOps into Experience-Driven NetOps.
You can learn more about how to tackle the challenges of agile networks in this new white paper, Continuous, End-to-End Validation of SD-WAN Performance from the End User Perspective. Read now and discover how organizations can deliver reliable connections that are experience-proven.