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Five years later, CLI still rules as an operational interface

How long will CLI remain a dominant operational interface? That's one of the key questions network analysts are asking in this week's blog roundup.

Andrew Lerner, an analyst at Gartner, looked at changes in the networking industry in recent years.

In 2013, Gartner clients were heavily focused on data center fabrics, SDN, virtual switching and overlays. At the time, he said, 60% of workloads were virtualized, clients were increasingly aware of how changing app architectures was bringing about an increase in east-west traffic and most network automation tools came from SolarWinds or Infoblox. Command-line interface (CLI) was the dominant operational interface, with weeks to get systems into production and little focus on WAN aside from MPLS.

Today, Lerner said the big difference is that, "SD-WAN is all the rage," with Cisco purchasing Viptela and VMware intending to acquire VeloCloud. Currently, organizations are 80% virtualized and increasingly deploy containers. Intent-based networking is growing as a concept, and APIs  and Ansible for network automation are increasingly common, although CLI is still the primary operational interface. Data center changes now deploy in days rather than weeks and leaf-spine architectures are increasingly delivered as a single construct, even though users talk less about fabrics than in 2013. "So indeed, SDN didn't cure all evils in networking, but it did change the discussion and paved the way for things like SD-WAN. So looking forward to 2021, I won't make a bunch of predictions but hope and believe that (at least) the CLI will no longer rule the day [as the main operational interface]," Lerner said.

See what else Lerner has to say about networking trends.

AWS changes ease the burden on developers

Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said the most interesting announcement at AWS re:Invent was Fargate. Conde explained that VMs allow a server to run as a single piece, with the operating system and additional apps, while containers allow apps to run and serverless computing allows users to run code. "Each stage enables slicing a workload into smaller pieces. Fargate is a system that enables you to deploy your containers on AWS, and do so in a way that's just as easy as getting VMs from [AWS' EC2 cloud management service]. This allows developers to ignore the setting up of infrastructure," he said.

With Fargate, he added, billing is conducted at a granular level and users can set configuration options for different apps. While he said there are commonly "silly discussions" about whether containers will replace VMs, the main takeaway for users is that an evolving computing platform permits decomposed workloads and a retooling of the underlying foundation for better resource management. "Use the right deployment model that fits your workload. We now have many choices. If you're event-driven, use serverless (such as AWS Lambda). If you want to define and deploy microservices, containers are a good way. If you have monolithic apps (or pieces of them), then VMs are a comfortable place to be," Conde said.

Read more of Conde's thoughts on Fargate.

Taking a look at LinkRunner and what it can do

Lee Badman, blogging in Wirednot, followed up on a recent review of NetScout's flagship wireless LAN tester with an appraisal of the NetScout LinkRunner G2, a wired networking tester. According to Badman, the NetScout product is customizable for both hardware and software and accommodates third-party adapters. The product is an Android device, with built-in camera, flashlight and screenshot capabilities, as well as a browser. It can also be used to download additional testing apps from Google's app store.

Badman said NetScout LinkRunner fits in well with the changing LAN landscape. Because of strong physical layer support, the device gives users a versatile way to test the network before it goes live, Badman said. Increasingly, the LAN environment is more than just a client-access domain and is shifting to power delivery with Power over Ethernet (PoE). NetScout said its product is the only tester on the market that can support all versions of PoE, for use cases spanning VoIP phones, CCTV and lighting systems.

Explore more of Badman's examination of LinkRunner G2.

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