Eric Wright (Discoprosse) talk on this topic from a server/orchestrations side in his February post Server Build Processes, Monitoring, Orchestration and Server Lifecycle Management  but I wanted to circle back around and add networking into the mix.

There is a ton of information and views on the topic of network automation and in order to keep this post short and open Im only going to graze the surface of these topics. Also Im going to speak mostly for the Data Center space but this topic could also pertain to the enterprise network as well.


Centralized Controllers and Network Automation

The big challenge with modern data centers is how to manage and deploy these massive infrastructures and their growing complexity. Imagine managing hundreds of switches, thousands of VLANS, possibly spanning multiple data centers, servicing hundreds of customers. Each customer needs their own space and must be isolated from everyone else. These customers also expect turn-up as fast as possible.

Network vendors have addressed these challenges and design shifts in multiple ways. Both Cisco and Juniper have deployed a controller based solution where access and top of rack (ToR) switches are controlled and managed by a central controller or master switch. This design reduces the number of devices administrators need to manage and also simplifies deployment of changes or add/removes. Multiple vendors are also opening up there switches allowing 3rd party software or controllers to manage their switches.

Controllers to me are the network industry dipping our toes in the orchestration/automation realm. As I'm sure most of you know there is a lot of activity right now in the network automation realm.  

Several open source projects are out leading the charge on network automation such as OpenStack, Open Daylight and I'm sure there are others. Vendors are also making a move in this realm such as Cisco's ACI. You are also starting to see new companies pop up with some really cool products such as tail-f.

Everyone sees this topic differently so I want to hear what you think. To me automation will remove the redundant manual configuration of network equipment and speed up and simplify network deployments even further. It will also give us better control and allow us to quickly adapt and alter networks with changing traffic patterns.

Anyone here been playing with these tools?

How do you see SDN and Network automation changing our day-to-day roles?