There is a huge emphasis in the networking community around automation and validation. Network automation builds on the work done for server automation. The solutions are more mature and and the terminology describing the solutions and tasks are well defined. Terms like “idempotent,” “task-based,” “state-based,” “agentless,” etc. are well understood.
Network validation, however, does not have a nuanced vocabulary. The general term “network validation” gets used to refer to a number of disparate activities, and specific terms get used by different engineers to mean different things. This lack of nuance hinders the communication and collaboration required to advance network validation technology. That, in turn, harms the adoption of network automation. It is too risky to use automation without effective validation; a single typo can bring down the entire network within seconds.
In this post, we outline different dimensions of network validation and hope to start a conversation about developing a precise vocabulary. We will discuss the what, when and how of network validation.