The networking industry is in transition, probably the biggest transition in its history.
There are fundamental shifts in architecture due to SDN and NFV. But, these are just tools to meet a business need, and that need is productivity. Automation is the single most effective tool to deliver productivity
Why is automation so important? It is the only way in which the networking industry can scale for the long term. We’ve all heard of the cost challenges facing service providers and the growth of the cloud. One of the big differences between these verticals is the levels of automation.
Cloud providers have started from a different place, and do not have the same legacy constraints as service providers. But, cloud providers have used this to look at how they operate networks in a different way, one which is from the IT world. Despite using many of the same products, protocols and architectures cloud providers are able to leverage much greater levels of automation. This is giving them a competitive advantage that is hard to match
Recent research from IDC showed that network transformation (i.e. automation) is able to deliver significant quantifiable business benefits. They calculated that there is €14,716 per 100 user of annual benefits. The largest contribution to this was from network management, planning and support.
The whole of the networking industry is in the middle of a shift towards automation, and it is unstoppable
The importance of automation is not only seen in SDN and NFV. It is also in the deeper level technical tools to configure the underlay technology. At Juniper we’ve always recognised the value of automation and open interfaces in to the operating system of our products.
Automation involves many different technologies, and will be implemented in different ways in almost every network. So what do you need to automate your network? You need a platform that is built for automation. That platform is Junos – the operating system that powers all of the Juniper products
But don’t take my word for it
In a recent blog, the respected (and independent) industry veteran Ivan Pepelnjak summarised his requirements for automation that he’d include in a RFP. He identified 8 specific areas
On-device APIs to read / write configuration and operational data
Structured operational data for easy analysis
Structured device config data for easy analysis
Atomic config changes to avoid partial updates
Config rollback to minimise risk
Full config replace that makes templates easy to use
Config difference analysis to simplify manual approvals
Industry standard data models for configurations
For each of the areas he summarized his view on how Juniper and some other vendors performed against these requirements. I was glad to see that Juniper scored 100%, the only vendor to do so.
How did other vendors do? Take a look at his blog here for more details
We’ve also created this infographic which nicely summarizes the requirements as a reminder when you draft your next RFP