Jan 3, 2018

Full Network Lifecycle Automation Tools: So Easy Even a CIO Could Use It!

Intent-based Networking means we take business logic from you, then take care of everything else.

I’ve been around networking tools since the early 1990s. My first router was a Cisco AGS running IOS 8.2(3) and had interface cables (appliques?) that sliced the back of your hands when installing them. I would use mainframe telnet emulation software to get to the CLI prompt and type away using show and config commands.

Fast forward 25 years… my hands have healed and telnet morphed to ssh but it’s still all the same process. This, despite the fact that “compute” (whatever happened to calling them “servers”?) was automated over a decade ago and switches effectively became servers with a bunch of ports. But network automation tools — think Ansible, Puppet, and Salt — were not built for this type of work because networks are distributed systems intertwined in ways that servers will never be. And these automation tools were meant to handle provisioning which only happens initially and rarely after that. But you still need to operate networks, which inevitably requires yet another tool! Why? Well, it can all be traced back to siloed organizational structures.

I remember one large bank I worked for had a Configuration Management Group (CMG). All they did was create/push configs based on diagrams an Engineering group gave them. I was in that Engineering group then and I loved it! I would create a before and after diagram and hand it over to them to figure out “the nitty-gritty.” I felt sorta like a CIO, only vastly underpaid.

The engineering, of course, was based on an Architecture team’s 30,000-foot view of how the network should be. And after configuration was updated, the operations team had the privilege of taking over for the rest of their (network) lives.

Documenting all these stages and finger-pointing between silos was a total nightmare. It went like this:

Ops: “We lost connectivity to Boston DC but I didn’t even know we had a Boston DC.”

Eng: “Check the Visio, it’s somewhere on a shared drive, I think.”

Ops: “I don’t have permissions to see it…oh wait, now I do but this diagram is dated two years ago and there’s no Boston.”

Eng: “Damn, well I’m not in the office right now, I’ll try to update it later but you could try Arch team.”

Ops: “OK.”

Arch: “Why are you calling me, I’m an Architect!”

But let’s say there was a tool that could automate each silo’s tasks. Design, Build, Deploy, and Validate/Operate all derived from your high-level business intent?

That, my friends, is what Apstra does. And we aren’t only working with one switch vendor because unlike those vendors, we don’t want to sell you switches. Choose Cisco, Arista, Juniper, Cumulus, or TBD…and we’ve got you covered. We are a software solution and aren’t replacing the Network OS, because they are good at what they do! But we are automating and optimizing the NOS in this vendor-agnostic, top-down way and it’s very, very cool.

Soooooo, I know everyone is busy, busy, busy – I still love this graphic:

Are you too busy to innovate?
It’s because of this and how amazing I think Apstra’s intent-based networking is that I created this demo and broke down each network lifecycle stage into 5-7 minute chunks. A mere 26 minutes total. Even a CIO could find this much time.

And as you’ll see, there’s nothing here that same CIO couldn’t do his/herself because we are Intent-based which means we take business logic from you, then take care of everything else. We want to remove the mundane and repeatable, so you can focus on what humans do best, which is creating new ways to help your businesses.

Have a look and drop a line to sales@apstra.com. I would love to go deeper here on your needs and all the other amazing things Apstra does but I didn’t have time to discuss here because I’m very, very busy.