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Three Best Practices for Building a Network DevOps for SDN, NFV

By Allison Boccamazzo August 13, 2014

Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) require service providers to rethink the notion of network engineering. Traditional network engineering processes are a bit stiff while SDN and NFV call for a more agile form of network service delivery to help meet dynamically changing application and service chaining needs.

Bottom line: SDN and NFV will separate operators who can successfully adapt IT automation and agile methodologies from those who cannot. To help bridge this gap, Alex Henthorn-Iwane, VP of Marketing at QualiSystems, took to the stage for a special panel presentation to supply some quick tips and tricks for building a network DevOps practice for SDN and NFV. The panel, “Building a Network DevOps Practice for SDN and NFV,” took place Wednesday during ITEXPO 2014, taking place August 11-14 in Las Vegas at the Rio.

NFV creates a huge opportunity for operators to create custom service chains, Henthorn-Iwane explained, but the problem lies in the fact that there are possibly endless service chains, creating an almost infinite certification matrix. So, challenges being commonly faced by operators include how to qualify all of these service chains as well as how to synchronize network certification.

Henthorn-Iwane’s answer? Automation. “Without automation, this is impossible. You need to enable automation across the entire organization.” But it’s important to remember that sustainability is the end-goal with automation. “Fast starts are great for automation, but sustainability is key,” he added.

Other challenges currently being faced within the industry include:

  • Network teams have few programmers—the majority are non-programmers
  • Application developers aren’t network engineers
  • Avoid programmer bottleneck
  • Need to systemize knowledge

Thus, Henthorn-Iwane provides three best practices for building a network DevOps for SDN and NFV:

1. Embrace reusable object layers for automation and infrastructure components: “Object-based ways of doing things enable you to create sustainable build blocks that can be managed,” he advised.

2. Use both out-of-the-box (OOTB) libraries and tools for open integration: Henthorn-Iwane stressed that this is critical for operators to keep in mind.

3. Leverage visual tools for orchestration and automation authoring: “The real trick is being able to do the authoring of the automation in a visual way. That is something that people who are knowledgeable about program logic can do without syntax.”

At the end of the day, SDN and NFV require a change in devtest operational practice to become agile, requiring a combination of a comprehensive DevOps approach; self-service orchestration and automation; and, of course, automation best practices. Agile practitioners will ultimately be able to respond more rapidly to market needs with relevant services and differentiation to sustain and grow average revenue per user. 

Edited by Adam Brandt

Director of Brand Strategy

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