NetOps, also referred to as NetOps 2.0, is a networking approach that encompasses the use of DevOps tools, methods and techniques to create an agile, scalable and programmable infrastructure capable of delivering business-critical applications and services rapidly and efficiently.
Used broadly, as a combination of the words network and operations, NetOps uses a DevOps framework built on cross-team collaboration and communication to bridge the gap between how a network delivers applications and services and the company's overall strategic business goals. In a narrower sense, NetOps refers to the implementation of specific DevOps techniques or tools to satisfy those goals by making infrastructure more automated, responsive and programmable.
While NetOps traditionally has referred to network operations of any kind or era -- as in a Network Operations Center, for example -- NetOps 2.0 is most often used to describe a network that's been designed to be more responsive to a business' needs and requirements. Other terms to describe this approach include NetDevOps, DevNetOps and Super-NetOps.
Historically, enterprise networking teams have provisioned, deployed and managed infrastructure manually using command line interface (CLI), troubleshooting and installing devices as needed, without concern for consistency. As a result, many networks are overly fragile and complex, requiring unique fixes when broken. Because each component requires a high degree of human attention and input, scalability is inherently limited.
NetOps aims to address legacy networks' limitations by making them more responsive and scalable. Using automation and other technological advances, NetOps can allow an enterprise to respond quickly to new requests and events while minimizing manual intervention.
NetOps tools use techniques such as virtualization, automation, orchestration, APIs and templates to enable teams to abstract and automate routine, repetitive network changes and link them directly to application delivery workflows. Automating the re-use of established provisioning, configuration and deployment policies makes network infrastructure management more consistent—improving both performance and security.
NetOps also includes the integration of network analytics tools designed to flag potential performance issues, gather and present relevant data and trigger automated remediation processes. Intent-based networking (IBN), a separate network initiative that relies heavily on automation, is an additional component of NetOps.
The evolution of NetOps is making it more critical for network professionals to possess basic automation and programming skills, as well as the soft skills needed to collaborate proactively with other teams and users. NetOps will require a significant cultural shift, with enterprise networking teams learning to embrace change and manage risk, rather than avoid it.