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This chapter is from the book

Network Management Is Dead, Long Live Network Management

A fundamental shift started in the industry some years ago: A transition from network operators managing the network to operations engineers automating the network. This transition resulted from the combination of multiple trends, as discussed in Chapter 1. These included the multiplication of the number of devices in the network, the increased number of network management configuration transactions per second (with the strong desire to lower the operational expenditure [OpEx]), the shift to virtualization, faster and faster services deployments, a new licensing model on a pay-per-usage basis—and maybe simply the realization that network management is essential to conduct business.

This transition brought the world of operations and development closer together. New buzzwords appeared: controller, DevOps, network programmability, management plane, network APIs, and so on. And new initiatives blossomed:

  • Some in the open source world, such as OpenFlow,7 OpenStack,8 OpenDaylight,9 Open Vswitch,10 and OpenConfig11

  • Some in the research community, such as mapping the Unified Modeling Language (UML)12 to YANG

  • Some in standards organizations, such as the NETCONF and NETMOD working groups at the IETF, where some of the core building blocks for data model–driven management are specified

Interestingly, this new sandbox attracted many nontraditional, so-called network management people. Some came with a development background, some came from different technology areas, and some just surfed the wave. In the end, this was a good thing! For quite some time we were thinking of telling those people that their jobs were actually network management related. Although this was certainly the case, we didn’t want scare them away by labeling their new job with old-school terminology: network management. However, having an automation-related job is certainly cool these days. Therefore, to respect people’s sensibilities, a slightly less provocative section title would be “Network Management Is Dead, Long Live Automation,” or even “Network Management Is Dead, Long Live DevOps.”

Humor aside, the point is that the industry changed. It is common sense today to include security in all aspects of networking: from simply paying attention to the web server file permissions, to moving a web server to the secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPS), to the full authentication and authorization mechanisms, and finally to the “let’s encrypt everything” paradigm. The industry slowly but surely will reach this point for automation. As mentioned already, some operators rightly assert nowadays, “If a feature cannot be automated, it does not exist.” Therefore, let’s assert that the coming years will be the years of automation.

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