Table of Contents
- Target Markets and Deployment Models
- Key Criteria Comparison
- GigaOm Radar
- Vendor Insights
- Analyst’s Take
- About Ivan McPhee
NetDevOps is the application of DevOps principles and techniques to network operations (NetOps), minimizing operator interactions and optimizing programmable network processes to configure, deploy, and manage the environment. Prioritizing alignment with business objectives over network control, NetDevOps—also known as DevNetOps, or network automation—relies on automation and intelligent infrastructure management to increase efficiency and ensure network availability, quality, and reliability.
NetDevOps alleviates challenges and increases agility by applying DevOps behaviors, culture, and principles to network operations. It minimizes manual administrative tasks (such as configuration changes, service provisioning, and security tasks), reducing human error as one of the root causes of network downtime. And by automating the planning, configuration, testing, and deployment of network infrastructure, the NetDevOps pipeline reduces the lead time between development and implementation. In addition, it enables small incremental changes to be injected into the network with minimal effort and zero end-user impact, resulting in increased agility, quality, and speed of operations.
This report provides an overview of the NetDevOps landscape based on the following table stakes, which are mature, stable solution features common across all NetDevOps solutions:
- Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD): Usually associated with DevOps, CI/CD supports agile networking with continuous integration, delivery, and deployment. Closely integrated with on-demand elasticity, CI/CD for networks represents the ability to spin up network infrastructure services using tools familiar to application developers—such as Bitbucket, Docker, GitLab, GitHub, and Jenkins—on an as-needed basis.
- Automated workflows: Automated workflows provide complete lifecycle management functionality to configure, deploy, and upgrade network elements seamlessly. A collection of carefully orchestrated building blocks, automated workflows split higher-level activities into subtasks linked to network events, triggering proactive or reactive actions encompassing inventory checks, pre-checks, post-checks, show-commands, user approvals, scheduled background tasks, and other tasks.
- State awareness: The state of the network is monitored in real time with full protocol and transport neutrality. Awareness of automated network infrastructure deployments and implementations is required to ensure the desired network state is achieved and maintained. State awareness enables the continuous synchronization of the network state and configuration in real time using open, state-streaming APIs. It also provides advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) analytics capabilities for visibility, troubleshooting, and compliance.
- Infrastructure as code (IaC): Network configurations are abstracted as code for replication, reuse, repurposing, or testing, providing optimal resource usage. In conjunction with continuous delivery, IaC manages infrastructure (connection topologies, load balancers, networks, and virtual machines) in a descriptive model to reduce environment drift by eliminating inconsistencies leading to deployment issues requiring manual resolution. Furthermore, based on the principle of idempotence, IaC ensures you always end up with the same end state irrespective of the starting state.
- Policy creation: Vendor-agnostic automation policies are created by transforming the intent—as described in the automation models—into device-specific configurations and commands at runtime. Policy creation eliminates the challenge of first rolling out configurations and then maintaining and enforcing them at scale. In addition, a flexible, model-driven approach enables administrators to maintain compliance based on the desired state or roll out a specific configuration for deployment across network devices.
- On-demand elasticity: On-demand elasticity is the ability to spin up and down test, development, and sandbox infrastructure environments on demand without jeopardizing compliance, governance, performance, security, or stability. Unlike scalability, which refers to adding resources to accommodate larger loads, elasticity enables network resources to be added or removed dynamically based on changing application traffic patterns, such as seasonal or peak traffic surges.
- Self-service access: Robust, role-based self-service access to network infrastructures—such as dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP), domain name system (DNS), firewalls, load balancers, and other network services—allows development teams to consume networking services easily and quickly. Eliminating network team provisioning and configuration bottlenecks, self-service access enables application delivery teams to initiate the automated deployment and configuration of network services while ensuring compliance.
The list of vendors included in this report is by no means exhaustive. As a new sector evolving to meet the demands of agile networking, we anticipate rapid evolution in the next 18 to 36 months. New players will emerge with lean, innovative solutions, while established networking vendors will compete by acquiring solution vendors and expanding critical partnerships. With so many different NetDevOps solutions and the landscape evolving, choosing the best option for your organization depends on your use cases, existing software stack, architectural choices, and in-house capabilities.
This GigaOm Radar report provides an overview of notable vendors and their offerings. The corresponding GigaOm report, “Key Criteria for Evaluating NetDevOps Solutions,” outlines critical criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting a NetDevOps solution. Together, these reports offer essential insights for network automation initiatives, helping decision-makers evaluate solutions before deciding where to invest.
Inside the GigaOm Radar
The GigaOm Radar weighs each vendor’s execution, roadmap, and ability to innovate to plot solutions along two axes, each set as opposing pairs. On the Y axis, Maturity recognizes solution stability, strength of ecosystem, and a conservative stance, while Innovation highlights technical innovation and a more aggressive approach. On the X axis, Feature Play connotes a narrow focus on niche or cutting-edge functionality, while Platform Play displays a broader platform focus and commitment to a comprehensive feature set.
The closer to center a solution sits, the better its execution and value, with top performers occupying the inner Leaders circle. The centermost circle is almost always empty, reserved for highly mature and consolidated markets that lack space for further innovation.
The GigaOm Radar offers a forward-looking assessment, plotting the current and projected position of each solution over a 12- to 18-month window. Arrows indicate travel based on strategy and pace of innovation, with vendors designated as Forward Movers, Fast Movers, or Outperformers based on their rate of progression.
Note that the Radar excludes vendor market share as a metric. The focus is on forward-looking analysis that emphasizes the value of innovation and differentiation over incumbent market position.