As enterprises accelerate the frequency with which they develop and release new code into production to meet the ever-mounting demands of their consumers, there’s growing pressure on networking and security operations teams to keep pace with their DevOps counterparts. And it’s not hard to see why. According to Forrester, nearly four out of five business leaders believe it is IT’s responsibility to ensure the network can support the company’s digital transformation plans.
And yet, 67 percent of businesses believe the network is the bottleneck—and with good reason. The current networks that NetOps and SecOps teams manage are highly complex, distributed entities that have historically been configured and provisioned manually—and often, in silos. Yet, as DevOps accelerates ahead at lightning pace, underpinned by the continuous integration, delivery and deployment (CI-CD) approach, NetOps and SecOps teams are scrambling for new ways to gain speed to more quickly launch, scale and secure applications and code updates in production.
The Need for Speed
Enterprises are increasingly leveraging DevOps principles to execute daily deployments into their multicloud test and production environments. For example, Etsy deploys 80 times per day, while Netflix and Amazon deploy up to thousands of times a day. In this new world order, collaboration, communication and synchronization across development, operations, network and security teams is essential.
This also means that testing of the network and application services infrastructure must happen concurrently with the application development and testing processes—not afterward, which can dramatically slow down the agile CI-CD process. Similarly, security cannot be retrofitted after the development and test phases are complete. A recent study by Puppet Labs found that high-performing teams spend 50 percent less time remediating security issues when security is addressed at every stage of the software development and delivery cycle.
New CI-CD Tools Deliver on the Promise of DevOps
New innovations in virtualization and programmability of network and application service infrastructure are making it possible to test policies and configurations prior to production—even in highly complex environments. Powered by validated templates and APIs, these network orchestration and application services tools help automate task execution for scale, preserve provisioning and configuration policies for consistency and bolster security, while dramatically reducing management time cycles and the risk of human error. They empower NetOps and SecOps teams to leverage DevOps principles and apply them to network and security during the development, deployment and delivery of multi-cloud apps and code updates.
Similarly to how software-defined components such as servers and storage are provisioned, network orchestration tools leverage a software-defined infrastructure (SDI) approach to rapidly provision network services across multiple network devices. These tools support flexible application provisioning across physical and virtual environments, help identify and address issues quickly and improve overall network performance. In the CI-CD model, network orchestration helps NetOps and SecOps teams ensure that all production-critical application and network elements—such as availability, core network services, security services and performance—are accounted for and are rolled out in proper sequence and at scale.
Application services automation focuses on application availability, performance, and security. While automation used to focus solely on simple load balancing, it now also includes a range of solutions that help network teams configure and automate application services during the test phase. These include web app and network firewalling, DDOS protection, application acceleration, WAN optimization, DNS services and TCP optimization, among others. In the dev and test phases of the CI-CD process, automation allows for faster configuration and deployment of network settings and policies. Similarly, in the production phase, automation significantly speeds up and simplifies areas such as policy adjustment and other time-intensive processes by eliminating the need to reconfigure underlying infrastructure. This means that ticket resolution and necessary changes can be completed in a matter of minutes versus weeks. At the time of rollout, application services automation toolsets also help to ensure the infrastructure is ready to perform at peak levels.
Network and application services automation innovations—the critical missing pieces in the continuous deployment puzzle—work together to ensure the entire DevOps team—including network and security—can deliver and deploy applications with the speed, reliability and security necessary to meet today’s business challenges.