All Exclusives Tech Talk

Ethan Banks Talks Network Automation

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.

Connect with Ethan

Ethan Banks is a cofounder and podcast host at Packet Pushers. You can connect with Ethan on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Find out more about Packet Pushers on their website.

About the author

Stephen Foskett

Stephen Foskett is an active participant in the world of enterprise information technology, currently focusing on enterprise storage, server virtualization, networking, and cloud computing. He organizes the popular Tech Field Day event series for Gestalt IT and runs Foskett Services. A long-time voice in the storage industry, Stephen has authored numerous articles for industry publications, and is a popular presenter at industry events. He can be found online at,, and on Twitter at @SFoskett.

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