NetOps Background

NetOps has been derived from the more commonly known term DevOps. Amazon, one of the leading adopters of the DevOps culture and providers of DevOps capabilities defines DevOps as “the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organisation’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organisations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes.”

Although DevOps has been around for some time now, many organisations are only just getting to grips with the adoption and new ways of working such a shift in approach brings.

NetOps is a developing concept and a set of aligned capabilities that focuses on the philosophies, practices, and tools in building and operating the network to deliver and respond quickly to application and end user needs. Due to the increasing demand for agility and growing reliance upon the network, these NetOps philosophies, practices and tools are becoming a major dependency for the overall success of DevOps. 

What benefits will
NetOps bring to your Organisation?

IT cultural alignment – In today’s highly complex IT environments where applications are developed and hosted in a multitude of locations, a traditional hierarchy of siloed development, infrastructure, network, and security teams is a very inefficient way to operate. Adopting or even embedding NetOps into existing DevOps practices and processes, enables physical and logical development of the network to fully align and operate in line with the application parameters it has been designed to support

Network agility – Developing core network capabilities alongside the application development process enables agility to be built in from day one. Furthermore, by linking network change with the applications and services being delivered in real time, the network is able to dynamically adjust routing, performance, and quality parameters to ensure application SLAs are met

Automation – Probably one of the biggest use cases for NetOps is network automation. Automation has the highest impact when it automates across different platforms and systems. At a simplistic level, automation could enable a committed data rate change on an access circuit when a certain application or end user performance metric breaches an SLA. At a more comprehensive level, automation could create whole network stacks and associated services when a new application is deployed, or a service is moved from one cloud platform to another. The opportunities around network automation are endless

Improved performance – All of the points detailed above will have a positive impact on performance, whether that be improved deployment speed, reduced downtime or even better cost management due to automated capacity and demand management. Furthermore, developing the network alongside the application will ensure all threshold triggers and SLAs can be factored in and tested from day one 

What do you need to consider
to start adopting NetOps?

Culture - Implementing NetOps in your organisation isn't as simple as flicking a switch and seeing an overnight change. It's a process made up of incremental steps, starting with small changes but always thinking of the bigger picture. The process, as a result, involves making changes to internal structures and culture, for instance breaking down siloed teams and creating multifunctional groups of data, infrastructure, network and security teams to work alongside or within a DevOps function

Technology & Tools – In most cases, modern software defined network technologies would be at the core of any NetOps function as these technologies tend to be more receptive to dynamic control through an application programming interface (API). In terms of tooling, and specifically automation tooling, there is an increasing number of vendor, third party and opensource platforms coming to the market which provide a centralised management solution for NetOps workflows and minimise the need for human intervention across the entire network

Skills – Probably one of the biggest barriers for the adoption of NetOps is the change in skillset required to develop and operate the network. Although the skills of a traditional network engineer may still be required, the future NetOps engineer will also need to be proficient in programming languages such as Python in order to program via the network orchestration and automation platforms 

Key Takeaways

Moving to NetOps can be a radical change, both in how teams work and how they think. If done right however, NetOps can increase productivity and help organisations embrace new projects, processes and technologies in a far more powerful way.

The best approach is to start small; this could be a simple project or could be an area that has a lot of manual task repetition ripe for automation.

However, don’t underestimate the cultural barriers, both in terms of structure and skills. Take time to understand the benefits NetOps could bring and plan your migration in managed phases.

Finally, whilst you may start small, don’t forget to think big. Having a view of the optimised end-state will help you plan the individual steps you need to take to achieve that vision, and remember that the opportunities in terms of performance, efficiency and overall agility of the network can be huge. 

TNC holds over 4.3m active market data points covering WAN, data networks, fixed voice and mobility

Disclaimer

Other than matters relating to The Network Collective, this research is based on current public information that we consider reliable. Opinions expressed may change without notice and may differ from views set out in other documents created by The Network Collective. The above information is provided for informational purposes only and without any obligation, whether contractual or otherwise. No warranty or representation is made as to the correctness, completeness and accuracy of the information given or the assessments made.

This research does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. Clients should consider whether any advice or recommendation in this research is suitable for their particular circumstances and, if appropriate, seek professional advice.

No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or (ii) redistributed without the prior written consent of The Network Collective Limited © 2020

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