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Networking and DevOps

by Andrew Lerner  |  October 30, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

There’s a lot of information (and misinformation) out there about networking and devops (or some variation of Net + Dev + Ops + Sec, if you prefer). Virtualizing appliances, adding APIs and automating manual networking tasks are good – but alone do not mean you have DevOpsified all the network things. In fact, it is often the non-technical stuff (people/process) that makes networking in a DevOps world hard…Here are a couple thoughts, taken from published research on the topic…

Getting beyond the SILO:

  • Networking teams have traditionally maintained limited involvement in DevOps initiatives, which can limit the effectiveness of DevOps projects.
  • Not all DevOps teams will require networking expertise, and not all DevOps initiatives that do require networking personnel will need it for the full duration of the project — DevOps teams will not be able to scale if they need one of everybody on every team.In some cases, a network person may be needed for some period of time and then roll off.
  • We recommend that both DevOps and I&O leaders foster career progression whereby networking personnel benefit financially and technologically by broadening their skills base — which is in addition to the traditional progression path of just getting deeper in networking. Career progressions along these lines include SRE and automation architect.

Building Data Center Networks

  • Build data center networks that are more DevOps-friendly by using smaller “pods” and mandating automation and programmability.  (note:  blog forthcoming on pod-based designs)

Integrating Networking into the DevOps Toolchain

  • Treat networking configuration changes and operational tasks that are required to support a DevOps project as code. In this sense, network configurations and operational tasks can be treated like any other software component. This means organizations must store configurations in a version control repository, implement them via the IT organization’s software development life cycle and apply automated checks to validate the change and overall operating environment… Doing so will require a nuanced but important shift regarding how network teams treat network changes: Treat network changes as products, not projects.
  • Rigid networking change control and DevOps do not mix well. Change control policies must be adjusted to allow for network changes to occur more frequently when they are part of a DevOps initiative.

Full Research Here:  Best Networking Practices in a DevOps World

In theory, DevOps accounts for all aspects of infrastructure, but in practice, networking has remained largely disconnected from DevOps initiatives. This research identifies how I&O DevOps leaders can better integrate enterprise networking into DevOps initiatives.

Regards and Happy Halloweeneve,

Andrew

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Andrew Lerner
Research Vice President
4 years at Gartner
19 years IT Industry

Andrew Lerner is a Vice President in Gartner Research. He covers enterprise networking, including data center, campus and WAN with a focus on emerging technologies (SDN, SD-WAN, and Intent-based networking). Read Full Bio




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