I often talk to clients deciding between different vendor products or architectures. Any network engineer with operational experience knows that there are always multiple ways to solve networking problems. Further, it’s easy for network teams to get caught up in near-religious battles over vendor architectures or specific features. However, the reality is that multiple approaches can often solve the business challenge – albeit just in a different way.
Almost always, my recommendation is to opt for the simpler solution. In other words, network simplicity should break ties when multiple alternatives exist. It may not be the most architecturally pure product, or the shiniest new object, but if it meets the requirements and is easy to scale both operationally and technologically, then that’s your winner. A perfect example in the market today is all the hype around SDN. SDN is over-marketed as the panacea to solve all the ills in networking (i.e., agility, cost, performance, scale, security). However many clients are struggling primarily with agility due to lack of automation. Instead of SDN, focus on the actual challenge and use the right tool – which in many cases means invest in automation tools/products (on a related note, don’t put up crown molding while the roof is leaking or mow the lawn with scissors).
In fact, automation is probably one of the best kept secrets in networking in terms of improving availability and reducing operational expense. So, take a look at these published research notes on the topic, many from my colleague Vivek Bhalla.
Market Guide for Network Automation, http://www.gartner.com/document/3185631
Summary: Infrastructure and operations leaders see today’s network domain as lagging in agility. Network automation tools enable network staff to gain process and configuration agility, while ensuring compliance, and this Market Guide can help you determine the correct network automation tool for your needs.
How to Improve Data Center Network Agility Without Getting Fired, http://www.gartner.com/document/3163219
Summary: Networking leaders need to improve operational agility and support Mode 2 applications, while maintaining high availability in the data center. Despite the hype surrounding software-defined networking, there are multiple paths to this goal, including network automation and new procedural approaches.
Toolkit: Network Automation RFP Template, http://www.gartner.com/document/3073524
Summary: Choosing a network automation tool is not a trivial exercise, and infrastructure and operations leaders can make expensive procurement mistakes in this area. I&O leaders should use this RFP template and tailor it to their requirements to minimize their procurement risks.
Minimize Outage Exposure and Risk With Network Automation Tools, http://www.gartner.com/document/2840619
Summary: Infrastructure and operations leaders must invest in their networks to gain a competitive edge while ensuring steps are taken to reduce outages. Network automation tools enable network staff to minimize infrastructure failure and ensure compliance while gaining process and configuration agility.
note: Image via meh.com