In this Gestalt IT Tech Talk, Stephen Foskett and Ethan Banks delve into the intricacies of network automation and the evolving landscape of the unified infrastructure stack. They explore the challenges posed by vendor variations, data normalization, and the need for standardized approaches. The conversation also highlights the diminishing gap between networking and other IT domains, emphasizing the growing trend towards a unified stack. With a call for collaboration and true unification, the discussion offers valuable insights into the future of network automation and infrastructure management.
The Intricacies of Network Automation
In this Gestalt IT Tech Talk, Stephen Foskett discusses network automation with Ethan Banks of Packet Pushers. Ethan explains that network automation encompasses multiple definitions, including automated network state gathering, pushing changes to achieve a desired network state, and maintaining an immutable architecture. However, he acknowledges that network automation is a complex task due to the lack of standardization in vendor APIs, varying data representations, and different methods of communication and telemetry. The conversation delves into the challenges of infrastructure automation, emphasizing the importance of checks and balances to ensure successful deployments and the ability to roll back changes when necessary.
The conversation also touches on the historical gap between networking and other IT areas like storage and compute. While acknowledging the blast domain associated with networking, Ethan highlights that the industry is moving towards a unified stack approach where networking is seen as an integral part of infrastructure automation. He shares insights from a startup called OpsMill, which recognizes the common problem domain across infrastructure as code tooling and aims to bridge the gap by providing a source of truth for network automation while expanding into other infrastructure areas.
Stephen and Ethan also discuss the need for true unification among networking, compute, and storage solutions, cautioning against partial solutions that claim to do everything. They advocate for collaboration and designing products together to achieve a comprehensive and unified infrastructure stack.