Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Lori MacVittie, Greg Ness, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: DevOps Journal, Java, Linux, Cloud Expo, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

DevOps Journal: Blog Feed Post

DevOps, Automation, and Mid-Market Companies

When you think about the largest and most dynamic networks in the world topics like automation are a no-brainer

The overall networking landscape has been going through a fairly deliberate shift over the past couple of years. Where we used to talk CapEx, we are now talking OpEx. Where we used to talk features, we are now talking about workflows. This change in industry dialogue mirrors the rise of trends like SDN and DevOps. I have been a huge fan of automation in general and DevOps in particular for many years now. But, as an industry, are we leaving people behind unintentionally?

When you think about the largest and most dynamic networks in the world (typically characterized as either service providers or web-scale companies), topics like automation are a no-brainer. The sheer number of devices in the networks that these companies manage demands something more than keying in changes manually. And for these types of companies, the network is not just an enabler – it is a central part of their business. Without the network, there is no business. It’s not terribly surprising that these companies hire small armies of capable engineers and developers to make everything function smoothly.

In these environments, automation is not a nice-to-have. It’s closer to food and water than it is to sports and entertainment. Accordingly, their interest in technologies that support automation is high. Their capability in putting automation tools to use is high. And if their abilities do not match their requirements, they open up their wallets to make sure they get there (think: OSS/BSS).

In networking, there is a prevailing belief that what is good for these complex environments will eventually make its way into smaller, less complex networks. It might take time, but the technologies and best practices that the most advanced companies employ, will eventually trickle down to everyone else. It’s sort of the networking equivalent of Reaganomics.

But is this necessarily true?

First, let me reiterate that I am a huge advocate for automation and DevOps. But these capabilities might not be universally required. Automation is most important in environments where either the volume or rate of change is high enough to justify the effort. If the network is relatively static, changing primarily to swap out old gear for new functionally equivalent gear, it might not be necessary to automate much at all. Or if network changes are tied to incremental growth, it might not make sense to automate the very much.

Automation enthusiasts (myself included) will likely react somewhat viscerally to the idea that automation isn’t necessary. “But even in these cases, automation is useful!” Certainly, it is useful. But what if your IT team lacks the expertise to automate all the things. What then? Sure, you can change the team up, but is it worth the effort?

And even if it is worth the effort, how far along the automation path will most companies need to go? It could be that simple shell scripts are more than enough to manage the rate of change for some companies. Full-blown DevOps would be like bringing a cruise missile to a water gun fight.

In saying this, I am not trying to suggest that automation or DevOps are not important. Rather, the tools we associate with these are just that: tools. They need to be applied thoughtfully and where it makes sense. Vendors that build these tools and then to try to push them too far down into the market will find that the demand for cruise missiles drops off pretty precipitously after the top-tier companies.

Even smaller-scale infrastructure does require workflow though. The trick is in packaging the tools so that they are right-sized for the problems they are addressing.

This obviously starts with discarding the notion that workflows are common across all sizes of networks. That is simply not true. The reason that there is pushback when people say that the future of network engineering is programming is that for many people, it is not yet a foregone conclusion that full-blown automation is worth the effort.

For these people, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

The conclusion to draw here is not that automation is not a good thing. It’s that automation packaged as a complex DIY project isn’t always the right fit. Not everyone wants to do it themselves. At home, it turns out I am capable of repainting a room, but it just isn’t worth my time, so I hire a professional. In a network, people might be fully capable of automating policy provisioning and still find that it isn’t worth doing because policy for them just isn’t that complex.

What vendors ought to be doing is packaging their workflow optimizations in a way that is far easier to consume. Rather than building scaffolding around the network to handle management, it might make sense to make the management itself much more intuitive and more a core part of the way devices are architected.

This might sound like a brain dead statement, but consider that most networking devices are designed by people who do not run networks. And even worse, the workflows that dictate how things are used are frequently the last thing designed. If the mid-market and below are to get the advantages of the automation capabilities that the big guys are driving, vendors will need to design workflows explicitly for broad adoption.

If we really want to make the juice worth the squeeze, we need to make the squeeze a lot less painful. We need to move beyond automated networking closer to intuitive networking.

[Today’s fun fact: Lake Nicaragua boasts the only fresh water sharks in the entire world. I would be very motivated not to fall down while water skiing.]

The post DevOps, automation, and mid-market companies appeared first on Plexxi.

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@CloudExpo Stories
Compute virtualization has been transformational, yet security policy implementation and enforcement has lagged behind in agility and automation. There are a number of key considerations when implementing policy in private and hybrid clouds. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Holland Barry, VP of Technology at Catbird, will discuss the impact of this new paradigm and what organizations can do today to safely move to software-defined network and compute architectures, including: How normal ope...
Can we look to the paradigm of cloud computing from a completely different perspective? In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Gundars Kulups, Sales Director at DEAC, will discuss what we can learn from our dining habits when choosing a cloud solution. Gundars Kulups is Sales Director at DEAC, full service data center operator. An IT expert, he specializes in European countries and has worked in the IT industry since 1992. He graduated from Riga Technical University (RTU) in Latvia and com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accel...
As cloud gives an opportunity to businesses to buy services externally - how is cloud impacting your customers? In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Fabio Gori, Director of Worldwide Cloud Marketing at Cisco, will provide answers to big questions: Do you see hybrid cloud as where the world is going? What benefits does it bring? And how does Cisco connect all of these clouds? He will also tell us everything about Intercloud and Cisco investment on it.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMCnet has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is the world's leading business to business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the communications and technology industries.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue bu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Parasoft will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 27 years, Parasoft has researched and developed software solutions that help organizations deliver defect-free software efficiently. By integrating Development Testing, API/cloud/SOA/composite app testing, and service virtualization, we reduce the time, effort, and cost of delivering secur...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customiz...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, will describe an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-devic...
Until recently, many organizations required specialized departments to perform mapping and geospatial analysis, and they used Esri on-premise solutions for that work. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dave Peters, author of the Esri Press book Building a GIS, System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers, will discuss how Esri has successfully included the cloud as a fully integrated SaaS expansion of the ArcGIS mapping platform. Organizations that have incorporated Esri cloud-based appl...
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT tranformation? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, John Hatem, head of V...
Dyn solutions are at the core of Internet Performance. Through traffic management, message management and performance assurance, Dyn is connecting people through the Internet and ensuring information gets where it needs to go, faster and more reliably than ever before. Founded in 2001 at WPI, Dyn’s global presence services more than four million enterprise, small business and personal customers.
IBM and Tencent Cloud signed a business cooperation memorandum to collaborate on providing public cloud with Software-as-a-Service solutions for industries. Both parties agreed to focus on emerging small and medium enterprises in the smarter cities and smarter healthcare industries as well as other fields. This will enable these industries to utilize mobile, cloud computing and big data tools to transform internal processes and operations, thus achieving cloud transformation in the era of mobili...
SimpleECM is the only platform to offer a powerful combination of enterprise content management (ECM) services, capture solutions, and third-party business services providing simplified integrations and workflow development for solution providers. SimpleECM is opening the market to businesses of all sizes by reinventing the delivery of ECM services. Our APIs make the development of ECM services simple with the use of familiar technologies for a frictionless integration directly into web applicat...
European data center operator DEAC is the largest in the Baltics. The activities are orientated to provide data center services and IT outsourcing on Eurasia and America scale in order to create the primary or backup or additional data center for customer in the EU, to protect its business and, most importantly, reduce costs up to 40% within 3-5 years. DEAC is an IT outsourcing services and solutions company whose highly experienced and qualified employees offer various groups of services and...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: ...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: S...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Ashar Baig, Research ...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?