How NetOps supports digital transformation

Digitized business processes can sometimes stray from business intent without a proper network foundation that delivers rapid configuration changes and scalability. Modern NetOps tools and techniques can reduce digital transformation complexities and speed up the ability to change network configurations with intent-based networking, or IBN, methodologies and intelligent automation.

What is a NetOps strategy?
NetOps takes a page from the DevOps world. NetOps tools help network teams focus on service agility and scalability. Networks have become increasingly complex, and administrators must now identify and prioritize mission-critical network flows across an enterprise network.
Enterprises typically implement NetOps tools with software-defined orchestration and automation to streamline how administrators configure network and security services where necessary. NetOps tools can also collect and analyze data to validate the current network state against the network service intent, which identifies areas where the network can tune services for improved traffic flow optimization.

How NetOps supports a digital transformation strategy
Digital transformation has led to the development and addition of new digital services at a more rapid pace in the enterprise. Network teams must now continuously evaluate existing network services and policies to prioritize and secure network traffic based on a fluctuating set of digital applications that serve business processes. This also means networks undergo configuration changes at a rate faster than ever.
Manual configuration methods through command-line interfaces (CLIs), as well as the need to continuously monitor and validate traffic flows, often lead to slowdowns. Slowdowns can prolong the time it takes for network professionals to deliver new services and ensure current service performance doesn’t become affected negatively in the process.
NetOps tools, on the other hand, use a software-defined networking (SDN) approach to provide visibility across the entire network. SDN decouples the data plane from the control plane and offers end-to-end views of identified business data flows.
NetOps tools monitor and analyze the network with AI and machine learning (ML) to identify existing performance problems and provide intelligent insights into potential flow degradation issues that could occur with new digital applications and services. This streamlines how organizations onboard new digital applications and tools in less time and with higher degrees of performance accuracy.

NetOps practices aid in digital transformation
NetOps tools and methods deliver network services to digital services in a more responsive, flexible and accurate way. Examples of NetOps practices that support digital transformation include the following:

Automated service delivery across network components.
Continued performance validation with automatic remediation.
Automated evaluation of abandoned network services.

Automated service delivery across network components
Network administrators commonly perform new network service creation within a NetOps tool through a centralized GUI. Once the tool creates the network service, it translates the network service intent into network configuration syntax that infrastructure components can understand. The network service applies these configurations to the necessary network components. This eliminates the need to configure each network device hop by hop with manual CLI methods.
Continued performance validation with automatic remediation
NetOps tools create network service policies in such a way that prioritizes traffic flows based on digital service bandwidth and latency requirements. NetOps tools can continuously audit and validate these prioritizations to ensure business-critical applications perform at optimal levels.
When network administrators use automated tools within a NetOps orchestration platform, AI and ML can identify and validate if flow requirements have been met. If network services drop below minimum network performance thresholds set by NetOps teams, the orchestration tool can adjust performance policy automatically without human intervention.
Automated evaluation of abandoned network services
Because enterprise network service requirements are constantly in flux, unmanaged digital service additions and changes can lead to unnecessary network service bloat. Automated NetOps tools can help network teams identify and potentially turn down abandoned network services.
Andrew Froehlich is founder of InfraMomentum, an enterprise IT research and analyst firm, and president of West Gate Networks, an IT consulting company. He has been involved in enterprise IT for more than 20 years.