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IT service management should precede SDN automation

This week, bloggers explore the role of IT service management in SDN automation, Juniper's disaggregation of Junos software and complications of modern networks.

Software-defined networking (SDN) automation has many benefits, but, as CTO Advisor blogger Keith Townsend points out, it's "not a silver bullet." SDN automation appeals to many network operators, because it can significantly reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) by reducing the time and expense necessary to deploy new services. But according to Townsend, networks without an existing, well-defined IT service management (ITSM) program will not enjoy the full benefits of automation.

Strong ITSM programs minimize friction in the service deployment process, thus priming the network for further time and cost savings with SDN automation. On the other hand, high TCO may indicate that a network's ITSM is too complex and inefficient. Townsend recommends addressing any service management weaknesses before automating the network, outlining basic areas to consider, such as the request process and configuration management.

In Townsend's view, an enterprise must consider its service-management maturity level when weighing whether to move forward with SDN automation. He even suggests that ITSM improvements may negate the need for automation entirely.

Read more about Townsend's thoughts on how a strong ITSM program can complement SDN automation.

Juniper disaggregates Junos software

Juniper Networks Inc. is disaggregating its operating software, Junos, enabling it to run on third-party white box switches, reports Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass. Conde, who shared the news in a blog post after attending Juniper's NXTWORK summit, writes that this is "a first for a mainstream network equipment maker."

Conde notes that new vendors Cumulus Networks, Pica8 and Big Switch Networks have deployed operating software that works independently of the switch. Juniper's OCX1100 open network switch, based on Open Compute Project hardware, also works with third-party operating software, so customers can mix and match.

New versions of Junos will be packaged in a virtual machine (VM) operating on a Linux hypervisor, which now allows third-party VMs and vSRX virtual firewalls to run side by side. According to Conde, this latest step by Juniper frees up customers to safely experiment with white box switching, without shouldering as much uncertainty.

Read more of Conde's thoughts about Junos.

Monitoring modern networks

In a recent online video, Ulrica de Fort-Menares, vice president of product strategy at LiveAction in Santa Clara, Calif., and former director of product management at Cisco, discussed the importance of modern network monitoring.  

De Fort-Menares identifies modern networks as multivendor and software-driven. She adds that managed and unmanaged applications -- such as critical apps and software as a service -- as well as managed and unmanaged devices -- including those that fall under BYOD policies -- introduce new challenges.

"Modern means that your boundary has expanded, it's not just about your managed network," de Fort-Menares said.  

De Fort-Menares said that complex networks call for monitoring metrics that prioritize end-user experience and application performance.

To round out her talk, de Fort-Menares also demonstrated LiveAction's LiveUX system. Watch it here.  

Next Steps

Understanding ITSM

Shifts at Juniper reflect industry changes

Learn about network monitoring best practices

Dig Deeper on Software-defined networking

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