The idea of infrastructure-as-code (IaC) has been around for a while, but surprisingly has seldom been applied to networking. Juniper Networks (where I hang my hat) and other networking vendors like Apstra have made some efforts over the years to move folks in this direction, but there is still a lot of work to do. For example, Juniper has had virtual form factors of most series of hardware systems, projects like Junosphere for network modeling in the cloud (many of us now use Ravello), and impressive presentations on IaC and professional services consulting. Juniper’s senior marketing director Mike Bushong (formerly with Plexxi) wrote about the network as code back in 2014.
IaC is generally well applied to cloud infrastructure, but it’s way harder to apply to bare metal. For evidence of this, just look at Triple-O, Kubernetes on Kubernetes, or Kubernetes on OpenStack on Kubernetes! That bottom, metal layer is quite the predicament.
To me, this means in networking, we should be easily applying IaC to software defined networking (SDN). But can we apply it to our network devices and manage the physical network? I asked Siri, and she said it was a trick question. As an armchair architect myself, I don’t have all the answers.
If CSPs want to unlock the potential of 5G networks, they need automation. Automation reduces error in network operations and service management and accelerates tasks. Automation benefits CSPs in three areas:Service Creation – The ability to design, build and test new revenue-generating services using automation reduces development costs and time-to-market.