There are many factors making networking both more complicated and more critical than ever. The advent of cloud infrastructure, web-based applications, and increasingly diverse network environments demand a new approach to network operations, or NetOps, as it’s referred to in the industry.
Networks are bigger than ever: they now connect everything ranging from automobiles to cloud servers. And increasingly, today’s complex apps require data and connections to just about any type of device or platform, meaning that networking must accommodate a vast array of possible connections. Managing this type of scale can no longer be done manually, which is where network operations, or NetOps, comes in.
NetOps software and platforms can be used to monitor, analyze, diagnose, and automate network connections and performance. Using tools such as telemetry and data analytics, they will become an increasingly important part of the networking toolbox.
Futuriom’s research shows a rising interest in how to manage network connectivity and automation among complex, heterogenous environments, including those as diverse as cloud platforms, traditional enterprise networks, and the Internet of Things. NetOps will play a crucial role in how networks are used to tie together homogenous information technology (IT) environments, including cloud infrastructure and modern applications.
Components of NetOps
NetOps refers to the process of managing a network by monitoring performance and ensuring availability. This includes tasks such as configuring routers, switches, firewalls, and other networking devices; monitoring traffic flow; troubleshooting issues; and responding quickly to outages or problems with services or applications running on the network. The goal of traditional NetOps is to ensure that all components of the network are working properly so that users can access resources without interruption or delays.
The important thing to understand about NetOps is that with the expansion of networking into a broad range of networking environments, NetOps platforms need to be as powerful and independent as possible. Managing networks with proprietary, single-vendor tools connected to a single hardware platform is no longer attractive.
As part of this trend, NetOps platforms will need to ingest data and understand as many networking systems and platforms as possible. Key to this is the capability to monitor and analyze many different systems.
Cloud infrastructure has been increasingly automated using wide-ranging telemetry and software Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to collect telemetry and management data from as many pieces of the network as possible – and then drive automation into the network. Popular tools such as Ansible and Terraform are useful for scripting automation and configuration in contained environments, but as the role of networking expands to a wider range of domains, including multicloud and traditional enterprise networks, more powerful and wide-ranging NetOps tools will be needed.
NetOps is closely related to its cousin in the software development world – DevOps. The goal of both kinds of Ops, or operations, is to create a more software-driven, automated process to building and monitoring system.
For example, one of the goals of DevOps is to “shift left” the process of testing and validation of software code, by pushing it earlier into the development process – or “shifting left” as they are referring to it in software circles. The same goals hold true for NetOps, as managing networks has increasingly become a software-driven endeavor requiring more data, telemetry, analytics, and automated orchestration.
To attain these goals, NetOps has a wide range of requirements. Some of these include:
- Network monitoring and telemetry – in heterogenous environments
- Capability to orchestrate updates and configuration changes
- Automated control and management
- Responding to incidents and threats
- Network path optimization
- Network configuration validation
These elements contribute to the efficacy of NetOps to monitor, respond, and manage networks in real-time – with less human intervention. But more importantly, these elements must be able to function in a wide range of IT and network environments – including multi-vendor environments as well as diverse cloud infrastructure, including multicloud and hybrid cloud infrastructure.
NetOps teams will in some cases need to understand or monitor networks they do not control or own, for example by gaining visibility into public cloud infrastructure or software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN) or secure access service edge (SASE) systems.
Key Predictions for 2023
In 2023, NetOps will follow the template of cloud-native development in which software platforms focus on automation, collaboration, and scalability of diverse network platforms and environments.
NetOps will become more crucial to understanding the end-to-end network, including how networks are being used by remote users, third parties, Internet service providers (ISPs), and cloud providers – in addition to what’s going on inside of on premises networks.
What should we look for in 2023? Here are some of our predictions:
- As organizations look to modernize and automate their infrastructure, independent NetOps platform will become increasingly important pieces of managing networking.
- A larger emphasis automation, collaboration, and scalability will drive more dependency on fully featured NetOps platforms that can help integrate heterogenous networking and cloud environments.
- Network managers will be more interested in the heterogenous capabilities of NetOps platforms and their role in managing or hybrid cloud environments.
- A movement toward infrastructure-as-code will pick up momentum, which means managers will need NetOps tools to manage and integrate with both traditional networking hardware and software as well as cloud platforms.
With trends such as heterogenous networking hybrid cloud, and multicloud coming together, networking is set up for a crucial role in 2023. The spotlight is likely to turn to NetOps which can service as the glue of the expanding networking footprint.
Editor’s Note: Broadcom offers Experience-Driven NetOps that enables organizations to have comprehensive network visibility anywhere to meet the challenges of evolving networks.