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What Is NetOps?

NetOps is an approach to network operations that prioritizes agility and rapid deployments. The approach incorporates techniques such as automation, virtualization, and orchestration.

Why is a NetOps approach needed?

Today's digital enterprise must be more agile than ever to keep pace with customer expectations. Continuous network automation and validation are designed to simplify network operations to increase speed and efficiency, improve availability, and foster agility and innovation.

However, network troubleshooting still accounts for a significant amount of NetOps engineering time, and needs to be optimized with agile platform strategies.

To support this goal, DevOps has incorporated tools such as automation and orchestration to dramatically reduce response times and development cycles.

Historically, networks have been an obstacle to agile development, managed manually and in a reactive, unplanned way, with an emphasis on availability rather than performance.

With the rise of complex digital enterprises and the need for greater agility and faster content delivery, the network—and network management—must play a bigger role in the development process. NetOps teams need an integrated view of health and performance, as well as insights so they can take action faster.

NetOps brings DevOps concepts like automation, orchestration, and virtualization into network operations, allowing it to be part of the development process. A consistent view across infrastructure and applications data allows NetOps and DevOps teams to share a common view of the data.

How is NetOps deployed in enterprises?

In some cases, NetOps can be adopted through technology. For example, tools originally designed to help automate workflows, such as Ansible, Puppet, and Chef, have been upgraded to include network operations in their process. These tools allow DevOps teams to make configuration changes and update devices automatically.

However, NetOps is not simply deployed through technology. It's a mindset that may require cultural shifts to be fully embraced.

In the past, the missions of development and network teams often clashed, with developers prioritizing robust applications and rapid deployments, while network teams prioritized availability, reliability, and capacity.

How does NetOps relate to DevOps and SecOps?

NetOps, DevOps, and SecOps are all relatively new methodologies in three areas—networking, development, and security—involved in successful agile deployments. Ideally, NetOps, DevOps, and SecOps are interdependent and form parts of a collaborative process.

What is a software-defined network (SDN)?

Software-defined networking (SDN) is an architecture designed to make a network more flexible and easier to manage. SDN centralizes management by abstracting the control plane from the data-forwarding function in the discrete networking devices.

With SDNs, applications and the network are part of a single system, where the network is designed and deployed according to the requirements of applications and an optimized user experience.

An SDN is changeable and adaptive as applications are growing, reconfiguring, and reallocating to reliably deliver the desired business outcomes.

Elements of NetOps methodology

Orchestration and automation

This is the core principle of the NetOps approach. Orchestration and automation techniques borrowed from DevOps are applied to tasks in network operations.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analysis are used to guide decisions on network changes. Automated operations increase agility by reducing change windows and enhance reliability by being less error-prone.


Analytics and data

Collection and analysis of network data is essential for anticipating problems, optimizing performance, and managing the network footprint.


Network agility

NetOps leads networks away from static systems and into dynamic networks that can stretch between locations when necessary. The networks can be segmented from each other on other occasions.

The need for increased agility is compounded by the need for automation. This leads to the use of combined overlay and underlay networks that allow the physical network (static) and the virtual network (more dynamic) to be managed from a single point.


Security

Network security combines multiple layers of defenses at the edge and in the network. Each network security layer implements policies and controls. Authorized users gain access to network resources, but malicious actors are blocked from carrying out exploits and threats.

Benefits of NetOps

Agility

NetOps is part of an overall approach to networking that prioritizes faster deployments, updates, and fixes. This approach results in a rapid response to rapidly changing business objectives. 


Transparency

The NetOps approach uses software to monitor network performance by collecting and analyzing usage data. This way, potential problems are spotted early and eliminated before they become actual issues.


Resilience

Systems that respond more quickly to achieve everyday business objectives will better position enterprises to respond to adverse conditions or unanticipated circumstances. 


Resource optimization

The transparency provided by monitoring and data collection doesn't just help prevent network issues. Rather, it can help ensure that all network resources are being used efficiently.

For example, once applications and campaigns are no longer needed, they should be deleted. In addition, automation of common tasks can reduce the load on network administrators, giving them more time for strategic projects.