Incrementally automating your network

Network automation can significantly benefit your organization. Gartner found that automating 70% of the network changes reduces outages by 50% and speeds service delivery by 50%. But achieving these results is elusive for most organizations—-they never get to the point where a substantial fraction of changes are successfully automated. A key hurdle is creating a…

Read More

The networking test pyramid

An automated test suite is the key to continuous integration (CI), the DevOps practice of rapidly integrating changes into mainline. The test suite is run on every change to check that individual modules and the full system continue to behave as expected as developers add new features or modify existing ones. A high-quality test suite…

Read More

Closing the loop on testing network changes

Test automation is key to minimizing the chances of change-induced network outages. This article describes “closed-loop test automation” that makes the change process highly resilient and catches problems as early as possible, by testing changes both before and after deployment.

Read More

Don’t be afraid of (network) change

Companies large and small crave agile, resilient networks. They crave infrastructure that adapts rapidly to business needs without outages or security breaches. But changing the network is a risky proposition today, be it adding a firewall rule or provisioning a new rack. 50-80% of network outages are caused by bad network configuration changes. This high…

Read More

Lesson from a network outage: Networks need automated reasoning

In the afternoon of October 23, within a few minutes of each other, two friends sent me a link to the recently-released “June 15, 2020 T-Mobile Network Outage Report” by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHB) of the FCC. Given what Intentionet does, the report sounded interesting and I started reading it immediately….

Read More

Network-model-based security: A new approach that blends the advantages of other leading methods

Effective network security is largely based on a central challenge: making sure that only authorized communication among security principals (users, systems, or groups) is allowed. But meeting this challenge has gotten harder as security methods grow more granular and complex. As organizations deploy microsegmentation and move from coarser methods like subnet-level security to finer-grained controls…

Read More

Network as code: From hype to substance

Last week, Arista and Cumulus hosted webinars on building CI/CD pipelines for the network (see Arista Webinar, Cumulus Webinar). Both webinars communicated a vision that included generating configuration (changes) automatically, pre-deployment validation, and automated deployment,  followed by post-deployment validation.  I found these webinars exciting for two reasons. The first was the emphasis they placed on…

Read More

The what, when, and how of network validation

When historically tasked with configuring and managing a computer network, engineers have been forced to do almost everything manually: generate device configurations (and changes to them), commit them to the network, and check that the network behaves as expected afterward. These tasks are not only laborious but also anxiety-inducing, since a single mistake can bring…

Read More

We made networks work. Now let’s make them work well.

A few decades ago, car odometers were designed to roll over to zero after 99,999 miles because it was rare for cars to last that long. But today cars come with a warranty for 100,000 miles because it is rare for cars to not last that long. This massive reliability improvement has come about despite…

Read More

Automation without validation: Risky operation

To err is human; to really foul things up requires a computer. — BILL VAUGHAN If you run a large, complex network, you have either already heavily invested in automating key management tasks or are about to. Network automation is a great way to reduce human errors and accomplish those tasks with consistency and speed….

Read More