Enterprise Cloud and Transformation
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Enterprise Cloud and Transformation
The Importance of Testing in Automated Network Operations
Jun 11, 2018

Never before has IT been as much of a potential competitive differentiator than it is today. The ability to get business applications into production quickly can make the difference between success or failure in the competitive landscape. As a result, organizations are always looking for ways to move faster, and push the infrastructure to do more with less. From x86 virtualization over the last decade to the rise of cloud - the more accessible compute resources are to developers, the more agile the underlying infrastructure - like networking - must become.

 

However, the potential fallout from network infrastructure outages has never been higher. The network has always been a totally crucial part of IT infrastructure since the inception of the internet. This is only becoming more true lately, as the incredible rise of mobile and edge computing as well as new distributed applications and microservices are placing an unprecedented level of demand for the network to be reliable.

 

So, the name of the game is that we need to move faster, but reduce our risk of that speed affecting network reliability. How can we converge these two seemingly diametrically opposed ideas?

 

Automated Lab Testing and Deployment

The two ideas are actually not as contradictory as you might think. There’s been a fairly pervasive idea in the industry that the primary benefit of automation is to “do things faster”. While this can be a natural byproduct, it’s a little bit like treating the symptoms instead of the disease.

 

In IT, the real “disease” is fighting fires - having to double back to clean and fix issues that come up from one-off configurations, oversights or fixing issues that come up from years of Band-Aids. Simply repeating this pattern faster will not fix the problem. What’s really needed in order to go faster is to address this incredible overhead is by doing things more reliably and building a repeatable pattern or process.

 

To assist with this effort, Juniper’s rolling out two new professional services offerings for helping customers gain more confidence in rolling out new network services. This is a crucial area of focus, especially for organizations going down the path of automated network operations.

 

 

Automated Lab Testing allows you to run “pre-production” style testing for your network. Let’s say you’re looking to make some kind of configuration change but you want to do a dry run to make sure things work the way you expect. Juniper can offer a testing platform through this services offering that allows you to define the network behavior you expect, and verify this behavior is actually taking place within a safe, sandboxed environment.

 

Automated Deployment builds on this by leveraging the same configuration artifacts to consistently deploy changes to network infrastructure, rather than rely on manual, bespoke configuration changes.

 

These are just the first services being offered on this platform, and more are expected to come in the near future. At Juniper, we’re passionate about enhancing network reliability through automation, and automated testing is a fundamental cornerstone of this way of running network operations.

 

Stay tuned for a future blog post that will cover the technical aspects of the platform Juniper uses to drive these services. For more information, contact your local Juniper account team.

Jun 13, 2018
bhaertel

Hi Matt,

 

very interesting article.

 

As I am also working on an approach for network test automation, I would be interested how the tools you mentioned interact? In a very high-level view, I am thinking about the following steps:

  • Jenkins triggers Robot, whenever a change is commited
  • Robot starts running the test cases
  • Ansible is used as library within Robot to interact with the devices (pushing configurations / pulling information)

Do you use a similar approach in your framework?

 

Best Regards,

Benjamin

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