As organizations, networks, and technologies changed over time, so did the way that enterprises thought about managing their networks. In the future, we will see a proliferation of solutions to help teams adopt an agile and data-driven network operating model. In many organizations, software developers and networking professionals have used separate tools and processes. Developers use pipelines to test, deploy and change code. They then create tickets for network changes like VPNs and firewalls. The network team would make the changes and then end users could use the application. The handoff from dev to network can be instant or it could take several days, preventing the end user from accessing the new functionality. NetDevOps focuses on this issue, which is one of the most critical infrastructure questions in the market: How can you create an organization that functions smoothly across multiple skill sets, technologies, and processes? Those same enterprises will be looking to leverage continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) practices from their software development best practices to help them overcome some of the challenges involved with implementing automation and orchestration into their networks.
What Is a CI/CD Pipeline?
A CI/CD Pipeline automates the continuous integration and deployment process. The pipeline streamlines the software development process by facilitating stages such as Build, Test Merge and Deploy.
A pipeline is not an overhead. It’s actually a specification of steps which can be run to reduce manual work and speed up the delivery of new software versions.
The Stages of a CI/CD pipeline:
Source Stage: In the majority of cases, a pipeline is started when a change to the central repository is attempted. These triggers are defined by the CI/CD tool at the source stage.
Build Stage: Compilation is also required for the built-in languages, such as Java. This happens in the build phase. This stage can also facilitate the creation of docker images. If this step fails, it could indicate a possible error in code or dependencies.
Test Stage: This is the automated test phase that runs to validate and verify our code. This stage is a sieve to prevent bugs from reaching end users. Multiple stages can exist, from end-to-end testing to smoke tests. If this test fails, it will reveal errors in the code.
Deployment Stage: Once the code is runnable, all tests are passed before deployment. For the product team, there are many stages such as “Beta, Staging,”etc. There is also a “Production” phase for end-users.
CI/CD Accelerates the Automation Process
Let’s begin with CI/CD. As network operators begin to rethink network updates and configuration, the adoption of orchestration and automation will increase. Cisco’s white paper “Automation drives network engineer skills transformation” states that the increase in automation is due to the fact that organizations are relying more on continuous connectivity. They also need the network to be dynamic, and they have to keep up with the rate of change in both the application consumers as well as the application supply side.
Some enterprises struggle to build their automation infrastructure due to a lack of resources, skills and maintenance efforts. To solve this, many of them are looking to incorporate the traditional DevOps practice of building and updating code with traditional continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines into their network automation and orchestration initiatives.
DevOps should follow a CI/CD workflow. CI/CD is used by organizations to minimize bottlenecks and improve the delivery of software. Continuous integration helps optimize building, integrating, and testing code in a development environment.
Teams will improve their delivery by integrating CI/CD and network automation.
NetDevOps is a networking approach that brings DevOps’ culture, methods, strategies, and best practices to the network.
DevOps principles allows organizations to increase efficiency, and ensure network availability, quality, and reliability.
NetDevOps applies these principles in a network environment. It offers tools that empower teams to work together and create an organization capable of working across different skill levels and processes.
It’s a trend that is gaining traction. Cisco’s Hybrid Cloud Trends Report shows that 55% of respondents have created a multi-functional team, with both technical and business representatives. 50% also have a central CloudOps/NetOps function.
DevOps is a combination cultural philosophies and practices and tools which increase the ability of an organization to deliver services and applications at high speed. It means faster changes using automation and rigorous tests, which reduces the overall Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC).
Many network infrastructures today are not managed by SDLC. They’re instead managed using more conventional techniques. The manual nature of the network change makes it error-prone and slow.
NetDevOps addresses the shortcomings of DevOps by adopting DevOps team for Networking. The goal is to deliver applications and services at high speed. To achieve this goal, however, the changes to the networking infrastructure must be implemented faster so that they don’t become a bottleneck during the delivery cycle. In the figure below, you can see how NetDevOps stages are represented.
NetDevOps automates and orchestrates network changes in order to reduce the lifecycle of network delivery. It treats the network like code, allowing version control. And it tests reliably changes to ensure quality and stability.
Let’s examine the components that make up NetDevOps (practices and tools, cultural philosophies, etc.) to gain a better understanding.
You may be familiar with the word ‘monolith,’ which is used to describe a software application that has individual components tightly coupled together. A change to a component can affect the entire application. The impact area is large, so it’s sensitive to any changes. This requires a holistic test of the whole system. It creates complexity, which slows down innovation. Modern systems tend to move away from monolithic architectures and towards modular ones. We can achieve this by dividing the monolithic systems into smaller micro-services, where we can manage, maintain and scale each component separately.
Corporate culture is one of the major differences between NetDevOps and traditional networking practices. As we mentioned in the previous section of this article, historically networks were monolithic structures with multiple components tightly coupled. Changes to single components can affect the entire architecture in this model. Due to this blast radius, network changes are sensitive and require extensive testing. Network operations and changes, therefore, are usually the responsibility of one central team that evaluates potential impacts and maps out the required actions.
The tight coupling of a network and the perceived importance of it encourage a culture where manual, sequential operation is used infrequently.
NetDevOps, on the other hand, encourages a modular and decoupled architecture of the network where changes can be made without affecting any other components. This represents a change from the centralized, coupled model.
To make this model work, however, it is important that teams are empowered to take full responsibility and operate independently, rather than having to go through the centralized decision-making.
Your delivery velocity will increase with automated parallel network changes, operations and testing.
Code for Automation and Infrastructure
We have known the benefits of network automation for many years. It automates manual tasks to reduce the risk of human error and accelerate network deployments.
In a world of software-defined networking (SDN), the benefits of network automation are magnified, and they have a greater impact on the speed and innovation rates for organizations.
You can define the Infrastructure as Code of your network (IaC). You can embed enterprise guidelines and best practices into your network configurations by using templates.
You can then make these templates accessible to the individual teams of application developers, who can create new network segments on a large scale.
In addition, by representing your network in code you can also track and log changes. You create new templates as your network configuration changes. This can be a difficult task and lead to “snowflake” networks – networks that have different configurations of networking in similar components. IaC combined with source control allows you to maintain a single point of truth while tracking changes.
Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)
IaC and modular architectures make it simple for autonomous teams define and deploy changes to the network infrastructure to meet their goals without having to change the entire setup. Despite this, the majority of deployments require manual approval, multiple levels of testing, and configuration tracking. Deploying changes to production environments is therefore a time-consuming process. We can use CI/CD to accelerate the process.
Example Use Case – Configuration Changes
You could click on each action manually to achieve your goal. If you want to add another VPC in a few days, you will have to repeat the process. This approach will not guarantee enterprise best practices and that you don’t change your configuration.
A NetDevOps-Based Approach would Include:
- Create IaC template for the network resources that include best practices and enterprise guardrails.
- Keep the templates in your source control system.
- Use a CI/CD Pipeline to orchestrate actions, utilizing unit and integration tests.
The Workflow High-Level for this Example Use Case is:
- The NetDevOps Team will create VPCs as code templates that will be –
- Accept parameters such as application name, environment and CIDR ranges from the application team.
- Create VPC, subnets, and TGW attachment requests based on the parameters provided by application team. Configure VPC route tables.
- The template will be available through a self service portal to the application teams.
- A request made by the application team via the self-service portal, as shown in the figure below, will initiate a deployment pipeline.
- The enterprise guardrails will be tested using unit tests. In the previous section, some examples of checks were provided.
- After successful validation of the checks, the CI pipeline will deploy the VPC, subnets and initiate a request for TGW attachment.
- The Networking Team can approve attachment requests by either automating the process or manually approving them. They will then associate this request with a route table that has been predefined.
- You can also run network connectivity tests using ICMP pings, and VPC reachability analysis.
- The workflow is completed when the test results are positive.
Implementing CI/CD Pipelines to the Network
When the traditional CI/CD pipe is applied to network configurations some issues can arise. There isn’t a single source of truth. The final version of each configuration may only be available on a specific device. There could be multiple templates, each of which is responsible for a different chunk of the configuration. The developer can then version control the templates and start a build each time one is modified. The entire configuration will not be built. Therefore, to get the result you want, you must apply the step to the device. Two major problems arise.
- The first is that you don’t know whether the configuration being added to the device will be accepted. Templates could be incorrect, or code on the device may conflict with changes made. The device could reject all changes (which would be the desired result in this case). The device could also accept some changes but not others, leaving it in an unstable state. The device may accept some changes, but not all, leaving it in a potentially unstable state.
- Second, changes were made before testing! The result is that the testing takes place on the live network, instead of matching what was desired.
In the event that something goes wrong during testing, it will be necessary to change the device again to restore its previous configuration. In this case, it is necessary to perform a backup before deployment.
Companies often try to minimize risk by making changes during scheduled maintenance window when an outage will have the least impact. Isn’t the point of CI/CD that you can make changes in real time? The core principles of the methodologies are violated by implementing this gating system.
Rethinking NetOps DevOps
It is not possible to “compile”, as it is done in the CI/CD pipeline, configurations for the network. The NetOps Pipeline has divided the build phase in two to accommodate this. First, there is the “build” phase. This is where you build complete configurations using external data or blocks of prebuilt configurations. The “validate” phase is the second. This phase checks that the configuration is deployed makes sense. The validation phase, unlike the network example from before (where there was no way to know if the configuration constructed would be accepted by the device), checks if the configuration is compatible without having to deploy. Combining these two phases is similar to the work that a compiler would do during the build stage.
Testing services is the next step in the NetOps Pipeline to ensure that changes are implemented as intended. If you change an ACL on a device, for example, it is possible to run multiple tests to simulate the outcome of different scenarios.
In the final phase, changes are made to network devices. In most networks, multiple systems are authoritative about different parts of the network. Changes to the network might not be propagated to other systems. It’s important to not only support device changes but also to keep the other systems up to date whenever an infrastructure change occurs.
Automation (such as the process described above) helps networking teams adopt agile modern processes. The adoption of Network Infrastructure as Code is becoming easier as more services become available. Organizations of all sizes are able to accelerate their use of network orchestration and automation by abstracting the traditional CI/CD pipe and tweaking it slightly.
Benefits of NetDevOps CI/CD Pipeline Solutions
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines are two technologies that are interconnected. They are becoming more popular in the IT sector. Both technologies are aimed at automating and streamlining software development lifecycles, including testing, deployment and monitoring. Organizations can reap many benefits by adopting NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD Pipeline solutions. These include improved collaboration, faster times to market and higher quality software releases. Learn more about the benefits of NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD.
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines promote collaboration among development, operations and testing teams. These technologies allow teams to collaborate more closely and solve problems faster. NetDevOps allows developers and operations to share responsibilities. This leads to increased agility and responsiveness. Developers can get feedback more quickly by automating testing and deployment. Teams can then deliver software faster, with less defects and better quality.
Quicker Time to Market
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines help organizations release more software, faster. Automating the software lifecycle allows organizations to eliminate manual tasks and errors while reducing release cycles. It results in a quicker time to market, and an advantage over competitors. NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipe-lines allow organizations to adopt a continuous release approach where software is released in small increments. This allows organizations to rapidly iterate on business requirements and adapt.
High Quality Software
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines promote a culture that encourages continuous improvement. This helps organizations to produce better software. Automating testing allows organizations to perform more thorough testing in less time. Automated testing also reduces the possibility of human error which is a major factor in software defects. Implementing NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines can help organizations ensure software is thoroughly tested and released in high quality.
Increased Visibility and Control
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines provide organizations with better visibility and control of the software development cycle. Automating the deployment process allows organizations to monitor software releases in real time, which ensures that they are successful. Automated testing also provides detailed information about the quality of releases. This allows organizations to make informed decisions on when to release their software.
Improved Productivity and Efficiency
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines help companies to be more productive and efficient. Automating manual tasks allows organizations to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to release software. This allows teams to focus their efforts on other important tasks. NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines enable teams to work together more efficiently, reducing time to resolve problems. Adopting these technologies can help organizations increase their efficiency and productivity. This leads to better-quality software, and a faster time to market.
Improved Security and Compliance
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines can improve security and compliance for organizations. Automating security testing allows organizations to ensure software releases that are compliant and secure. Automated testing can also help organizations identify security issues and compliance problems early in the software lifecycle. This reduces the risk of non-compliance and security breaches.
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines can reduce the costs of software development and maintenance. Automating manual tasks can help organizations reduce the amount of time and effort needed to release software. This will result in lower costs. NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines can also help organizations identify and resolve issues earlier in the development cycle, reducing costs and addressing production issues.
Best Practices for Implementing NetDevOps Solutions and CI/CD Pipelines
Implementing NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines has become more important as companies adopt digital transformation and agile methods. These practices allow teams to deliver faster software with a higher level of quality and reliability. Implementing these solutions is complex and can require careful planning and execution.
Here are some of the best practices you should consider when implementing NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines:
Begin with a Vision and Plan
It is essential to have a vision and plan for the end result before starting any implementation. It is important to define the goals, the scope, the timeline and any resource requirements. To ensure alignment and buy-in, it is important to include all stakeholders in planning.
Automation is essential to achieve the benefits of NetDevOps, CI/CD, and NetDevOps pipelines in terms of speed, reliability, and quality. Automation should be used for everything, from infrastructure provisioning to testing and deployment. It not only reduces errors and saves time, but it also makes the process repeatable.
Version Control is Essential for all
Version control is an essential component of NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines. Git is a good version control system to store all code, configurations and infrastructure. This allows teams to work together effectively, track any changes and roll back to older versions, if necessary.
Adopting a DevOps Culture
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines are more than just technology. They are about culture and collaborative work. For teams to be successful, they must adopt a DevOps-based culture that emphasizes collaboration, communication, and continuous improvements. It is important to break down the silos that exist between teams such as development, operations and other groups, and encourage a learning and experimentation mindset.
Implement Continuous Testing
Testing is a key component of NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines. Teams should strive to implement continuous testing through the entire development process. This includes unit testing, functional testing, continuous integration pipeline tests, and performance tests. This helps teams deliver better software by catching bugs early and resolving them.
Monitoring is crucial to ensuring reliability and performance for NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines. Teams should monitor all aspects of the pipeline, from infrastructure metrics and application performance to security and user behavior. This allows teams to detect problems early and respond to incidents quickly.
Microservices and Containers
Containers and Microservices are the key technologies for NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines. Containers are a lightweight, portable way to package and manage applications, and dependencies. Microservices allow teams to break monolithic applications down into smaller and more manageable components. It is easier to scale and update applications.
Teams need to measure all the metrics that matter in order to continuously improve NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines. Included are metrics like deployment frequency, lead-time, change failure rate and mean recovery time. These metrics can be used to identify areas of improvement and track the progress made by teams.
NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD pipelines are always evolving. To stay on top, teams must adopt a continuous learning mindset. This requires investing in training, attending industry events and experimenting new technologies and practices. Teams can remain competitive by continuously improving and learning. They will also deliver better software quicker.
Be Ready to Iterate
It is also important to realize that the implementation of NetDevOps solutions and CI/CD Pipeline is an iterative procedure. The first time is not likely to be a smooth one, so teams must be ready to adapt and iterate based on feedback. Teams that are agile and flexible can respond quickly to changing requirements, and provide better solutions.
Tools and Technologies to Support NetDevOps and CI/CD Pipeline Solutions
NetDevOps, along with CI/CD, has become an important part of software development today. They enable organizations to develop applications more quickly, efficiently, and reliably. In the last few years, tools and technologies designed specifically for NetDevOps or CI/CD solutions have proliferated. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. This article will examine some of the most common tools and technologies used for NetDevOps, CI/CD Pipelines solutions and how these can streamline software development processes.
Configuration Management Tools
Configuration management software automates the process of configuring, managing, and maintaining servers, applications, network devices, etc. These tools allow NetDevOps to ensure that their infrastructure remains consistent and reproducible, reducing the chance of human error and configuration drift. Ansible is a popular configuration management tool.
Tools for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD).
The CI/CD tool automates the building, testing and deployment of software. These tools allow NetDevOps to improve software quality and release more frequently. Some of the most popular CI and CD software include Jenkins, CircleCI Travis CI and GitLab.
Containerization technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes are becoming popular among NetDevOps. Docker is a lightweight, portable runtime, while Kubernetes automates deployment, scaling and management of containerized apps. These technologies allow NetDevOps to develop, package and deploy applications more quickly and reliably.
Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) Tools
IaC tools allow NetDevOps to define infrastructure configurations in code. This helps team’s version control infrastructure, enforce consistency and automate infrastructure changes. Terraform, CloudFormation and Azure Resource Manager are some of the most popular IaC software.
Version Control Systems
Version control systems such as Git allow NetDevOps to collaborate more efficiently and manage code changes. NetDevOps can use version control to track changes, roll back to older versions and work on several branches at once. The most widely used version control system is Git, but Mercurial and SVN also have a large following.
Monitoring Tools and Alerting Software
NetDevOps teams can use monitoring and alerting tools to identify and address issues with their infrastructure and applications. These tools allow teams to create alerts for certain metrics and respond to incidents quickly. Prometheus is one of the most popular monitoring and alerting software.
Cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform provide a variety of services to help NetDevOps team members build and deploy their applications more efficiently. These services include computing, storage, networking and security. Cloud providers can help NetDevOps reduce infrastructure costs, improve application security, and scale applications more easily.
NetDevOps, CI/CD pipelines and other technologies are revolutionizing software development today. NetDevOps brought together development and network teams to encourage collaboration, resulting in faster and more efficient software development cycles. The CI/CD pipelines streamline the entire process and allow developers to concentrate on innovation, creativity and reducing time to market.
NetDevOps, CI/CD, and other pipelines offer many benefits, such as increased agility, reduced risks, and improved product quality. Cloud computing and containerization allow developers to quickly create new environments for testing their code. This allows them to ensure that it works correctly before it is released to production.
Automating routine tasks, which were previously done manually, is another advantage of NetDevOps. Automation allows developers to concentrate on more complex tasks such as developing new features or fixing bugs.
There are challenges with the implementation of NetDevOps, CI/CD pipelines. This includes the need for a cultural shift, as well the need for new processes and tools. To make these changes, organizations must invest in training and infrastructure.
The benefits of NetDevOps, CI/CD and other pipelines outweigh these challenges. Software will continue to play a critical role in our daily lives and the demand for reliable, secure, and fast development teams will grow. NetDevOps pipelines and CI/CD are vital tools to achieve these goals. Organizations that adopt them will be the best positioned in the digital era.
NetDevOps, CI/CD, and other technologies have transformed software development. It is now faster, more efficient and collaborative. These technologies can be used to improve software quality, reduce risks, and streamline development cycles. NetDevOps pipelines and NetDevOps are the future of software development. Organizations that adopt these technologies in years to come will be successful.