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Breaking down operational silos with Super-NetOps

By Mohan Veloo

Vice President of Technology, F5 Networks Asia Pacific

A wise man once said, “The only thing that is constant is change”.

F5’s new Super-NetOps initiative helps businesses embrace automation, unlock new levels of performance, and deliver critical network operations functions through DevOps methodologies.​
That saying has never been more accurate. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that the rate of change in the last decade has been exponential. We’ve observed seismic shifts in control over information from businesses to consumers, as newer and faster competitive offerings hit (and disrupt) the market. This is apparent, even in the sporting world—racing cars get faster, because a tenth of a second can be the difference between a podium finish (and new sponsorship dollars) versus somewhere unremarkable in the middle of the pack.

The results of this continuous improvement are apparent. In the same way, there is an increased urgency for the private sector to innovate, improve customer experience, and discover new sources of revenue— in which application development teams are key. This is evident in the Philippines with the surge of various companies launching their own apps to augment their pre-existing services and reach a wider audience online or merchants providing an alternative payment method through an app, to name a few.   

Unfortunately, I often hear tales where local teams and businesses are hampered by IT systems and practices, all falling short to keep up with the business challenges, leading to frustration on both sides. The business teams need faster, smarter, and safer apps, while IT teams face enormous pressure to minimize risk and keep IT costs down even as demand for services escalates.

The good news is that over the past two years, F5 has been actively working with customers to address the gap between network operations teams and developers and foster stronger collaboration to drive faster and more streamlined business operations. This is backed up by a recent F5 survey, which found that more than just respecting each other’s priorities, DevOps and NetOps professionals also have a desire for better collaboration, more automation of network services and, on the DevOps side in particular, greater access to the production pipeline.

What is Super-NetOps?

Super-NetOps describes the evolution of a traditional Network Operations practice from slow, manual and task-based, to an agile, responsive practice that supports modern IT requirements like automation, continuous delivery, and continuous improvement. 

Simplifying this, just think of apps as cars and the infrastructure (being networks operations) as roads and highways. And just as the number of cars on the road increase, so do the number of apps. We, therefore, need to evolve, and look for faster, more convenient ways to reach our destination, but still without compromising security. This is what Super-NetOps is about—to bring network-based services into continuous delivery pipelines.

Put your best foot forward

Announced just earlier this month, our Super-NetOps initiative is a result of these engagements—a new training curriculum that we and our partners have developed and delivered to over a thousand customers in the past several months. In the spirit of continuous improvement, the curriculum, which includes a hands-on lab component, is continuously refined based on lessons learned from every engagement.

The Super-NetOps program addresses a critical need faced by nearly every large business: how to break down operational silos and get the right teams doing the right work in close collaboration and with an eye toward driving better business outcomes. Delivered through a combination of video lessons and hands-on labs lessons, the curriculum comprises lessons that teaches network operations professionals the concepts and skills needed to create a service catalog for developers to provide services in a continuous deployment pipeline. Additionally, the course also covers cultural and process changes that are fundamental and core to the DevOps movement, but that have largely been forgotten or bypassed by traditional network operations teams. 

And the best part of it all? The training is free to customers and non-customers alike—including a fully provisioned lab environment and step-by-step guides that have been thoroughly tested in the field. In the coming months, we will also roll out an expanded curriculum, including security-focused automated deployment methodologies for the burgeoning DevSecOps role, application language frameworks, and third-party automation toolchain enablement.  

The Super-NetOps journey

Super-NetOps is not a technology, it’s an evolutionary journey. Already featuring two complete classes on integrating NetOps expertise into the benefits of a DevOps world, this training program is poised to help the NetOps professional take a well-deserved seat at the continuous improvement/continuous deployment table. New skills for the new era!

Topics: Super-NetOps , sporting world , F5 Networks Asia Pacific , Network Operations
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