DevOps adoption in network infrastructure lifecycle management

By: Ludovic Hazard

Read more about Software Defined Networking (SDN) in this ebook

Orchestration of SDN/NFV facilitates DevOps adoption

Business application developers are adopting a DevOps-based approach for enabling automation across application development lifecycle. Apart from this, DevOps adoption also happening across cloud IT layers below the application.

Most enterprises have already started industrialized provisioning of virtual computing in combination with middleware and business applications. However, Network and Storage are usually excluded.

The current trend, as seen globally across workshops, consulting engagements and POCs is that DevOps adoption is happening from top to bottom, i.e., from business applications down to infrastructure layers. The Network needs to be aligned to this DevOps approach.

The availability of technologies such as cloud orchestration and SDN/NFV (Software Defined Network / Network Function Virtualization) facilitates the adoption of an approach based on open-standards and open-source cloud solutions to provision and manage the overall cloud IT layers including network.

Open-source in DevOps adoption

DevOps is closely linked with open-source adoption. The most important benefit of open-source is cost efficiency (no more licenses to pay). Companies usually have difficulties predicting the overall cost of adoption including risks and skills. This cost evaluation issue resonates from top management to IT department, as traditionally IT was seen as a cost center rather than an innovation catalyst.

However, key concerns regarding complete open-source adoption in the cloud networking layer are the support and maintenance aspects. The question arises, where to differentiate between vendor-based packaged and open-source cloud solutions. This results in risks of self-support and self-maintenance versus getting support and maintenance services on open-source solutions from cloud service providers.

Companies are evaluating the best-balanced ratio between locked-in and open-standard based solutions as seen across industries like telco, banking, insurance and retail. As an intermediate and a convenient option, vendor solution based on open-source components seems to be the preferred solution providing unlocking, API exposition and offering full support and maintenance for service reassurance. This approach also provides some time to upskill internal IT teams before moving some IT pieces into a complete open-source solution.

How can IBM Help?

While the market is still evolving, IBM has extended its services portfolio, to provide support services for multiple open-source solutions. Wherever you are positioned in the DevOps adoption journey, IBM has a broad portfolio of network services supporting following types of networking infrastructure solutions:

IBM proposes different DevOps tooling based on open-source that helps clients to smoothly switch from legacy, vendor locked-in environment to more open and standardized cloud solutions, such as UCD (Urban Code Deployer) supporting openstack & ansible and ALM (Agile LifeCycle Manager), which is a DevOps solution for NFV based on Docker and ansible playbooks or CAM (Cloud Automation Manager) enabling Terraform.

This standardized approach is natively supporting a DevOps lifecycle between three pillars: service design, service provisioning and service lifecycle management.

IBM is a strong advocate of integrating Analytics and AI (Artificial Intelligence) engines into the Service Lifecycle Management. This integration provides real-time insights as well as ‘next best action’ automation (auto-heal, scale in and out, up and down, SDN & VNF configuration change).

To learn more about DevOps adoption and how to design and deploy new innovations at the speed of today’s business here are a few additional resources to help you find the right approach for your enterprise.

About The Author

Ludovic Hazard

Client Innovation Center Networking Services Team Leader, IBM

Ludovic Hazard is the IBM Team Leader of Client Innovation Center Networking Services. He currently focuses on cloud orchestration and automation involving AI and DevOps adoption in IT infrastructure including networking from solution design, solution provisioning and lifecycle management. In addition, Ludovic is an IBM IT Architect expert, patent inventor and professor at a technical... Read more