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The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with saying that the only constant is change. And who could argue with him, given what life in the 2020s looks like? In our uncertain world, we must be adaptable, able to pivot and switch to new ways of living and working as the world evolves. Business conditions to a constant influx and as it underpins every modern business process.

So your I.T. operations need to be able to rise to the challenge and deliver agility. Now, traditionally, I.T services have been difficult to build and maintain. Highly skilled techies were employed to deploy and manage the infrastructure that was needed to provide those applications. Everything from Rackspace and power and cooling to the servers, the storage and the operating systems. At once they were built yet more engineering resource and know how were then required to provide secure connectivity to ensure that those applications were always available. Then one day along came the cloud and we were saved. The infrastructure was revolutionised and now we had as much resource and capacity as we would ever need provisioned on demand and paid for by the second of uptime. But this meant that the bottleneck in application provision shifted very firmly, unfortunately, to the network, as the agility there just could not match that of cloud infrastructure.

But why? My name is Darren Fulwell, and I’m a network architect and product evangelist for IP fabric. I’m going to spend a few minutes just explaining why many network operations teams aren’t able to deliver the flexible, adaptable service that you need to be able to stay ahead of the curve. And of course how IP Fabric’s Automated Network Assurance Platform can help fix that for you. So let’s start digging into that problem a little more. Ultimately, networks are not easy. I can hear the network engineers in the room cheering. Now, vendors may say that they’re making them simpler, but in reality what they’re doing is hiding a complexity of overlays and underlies and encapsulation behind the thin veneer of management in order to make that claim. While it may appear that they’ve become easier to consume, in reality, there are more moving parts in networks than ever before. It’s clear that very few organisations have just one network. Take your typical enterprise. They might have some wireless and campus lan in each of their office locations, a one interconnecting their sites. It may be of the traditional or the software defined variety. They may have cloud provision and a data centre or two. If, like most organisations, they’re looking to develop a hybrid cloud approach. And of course, they’ll have Internet facing services and the DMZ. Now, each of those is separate.

Each with its own management challenges. And all of them have been built to work together to deliver applications to users and customers. To add to the complexity, the offer managed by different teams of subject matter experts with end user and application service teams layered on top. They may have their own individual processes and their own tooling, either specific to the mine or in some cases, shared. Now you’ll notice there are spaces between those teams, processes and tailings. These are knowledge or skills gaps. And in order for systems to deliver an end to end service, those gaps need to be bridged. Encouraging collaboration between those subject matter experts and the systems in their silos. There’ll often be questions that need to be answered, like Are all of the important devices monitored in my network? What role does each device play in the delivery of applications? Am I sending logs and alerts to a central event correlation system, and am I making it easy to support the network by keeping configurations consistent and templated across that network and to end? Without a single common view of the network, those gaps simply won’t be filled.

Some organisations try and use documentation to help, but the overhead of keeping written documentation updated after every add move. A change that happens in the network is such that it is nearly impossible to trust that they’re up to date. Ask any network engineer about the pain of updating Visio diagrams and spreadsheets every time they make a modification to their infrastructure. If there were way to create a single definitive view of the network, end to end information could then start to flow more freely between these teams and their processes and the whole tooling, and by automating the process of collection and collation of that data. It can be made available at speed to whoever needs it, in whichever form works for them. IP fabric’s network assurance platform puts an arm around the whole network, automatically gathering data from all of its constituent elements and creates a vendor agnostic data model containing all the inventory configuration, topology and state data that it can find. It’s able to build a picture of the forwarding and policy behaviour of the network from user to workload wherever they are, and then makes that data available to whoever wants to consume it. For example, we help ensure that, you know, all of the IP addresses and VLANs across in use across the network that your one is rooting your LAN subnets correctly whether applications on cloud workloads are accessible from your users, that you have an inventory that’s accurate for all of the network equipment across your organisation. And if changes that were completed last night was successfully implemented and that you’ve got a picture of the state before and after to prove it.

And of course, for the security folk that the security policy is having the desired effect. Now, all of these questions and so many more are answered using IP fabrics, discovery, modelling intent and path checks and all without any manual documentation updates. And so you can now look to automate your network infrastructure end to end because you have that holistic, accurate view of the network that you can trust, your supporting tooling, your monitoring, your ITSM, your CMT pay intended state database configuration, automation, etc., etc. They could all use the same harmonised data view with no clashes. And now the idea of a self-service cloud like agility without compromising security or availability becomes possible for the network. Our customers are seeing the benefits of this approach day in and day out. Some of the world’s most agile organisations use our platform to underpin their automated network operations, leading to huge savings in time and resource in their automation efforts. Use the QR code on screen or visit IP fabric door IO today to see how you can start your journey to a more agile network infrastructure. Thank you.