The extension of a partnership between Cisco Systems and Google to drive tighter integration between their respective software-defined wide area network (SD-WANs) offerings and cloud platforms promises to accelerate the convergence of NetOps and DevOps.
John Apostolopoulos, vice president and CTO for Intent-Based Networking Group at Cisco, said in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic it’s clear more organizations will be employing SD-WANs as an alternative to virtual private networks. Many of those SD-WAN deployments, however, will be on public clouds rather than in a traditional on-premises data center, he added.
As that transition occurs, DevOps teams will increasingly invoke SD-WAN services via application programming interfaces (APIs) residing in the cloud to provide users with access to cloud applications, noted Apostolopoulos.
Cisco and Google have a technology alliance in place that spans everything from Kubernetes to cloud management software. That partnership is now being extended to include forthcoming deployments of Cisco SD-WAN software on Google Anthos, a cloud platform based on Kubernetes that can be deployed on any cloud or on-premises IT environment, sometime in the first half of 2021.
The availability of SD-WAN services from Cisco on multiple cloud platforms will naturally have significant implications for NetOps teams. Rather than having to manage individual routers and switches, the future of SD-WANs is moving more toward being a set of software services that are programmatically invoked. It’s not clear to what degree NetOps teams might be folded into DevOps teams as that transition occurs. IT teams will always require networking experts to optimize networking services to one degree or another, said Apostolopoulos. However, the days when DevOps teams had to wait days or weeks for a NetOps team to manually provision network services on their behalf are coming to an end.
Apostolopoulos said in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, flexibility has become a highly prized IT asset. As such, more applications will soon be deployed in the cloud than ever. Cisco is betting that rather than having to manage multiple cloud network services, more organizations will prefer to extend enterprise networking services from Cisco across multiple clouds. That approach will enable IT organizations to more easily centralize the management of network services via a management console built on top of a consistent set of APIs, he noted.
Just as importantly, Cisco will provide the integrated tools needed to secure those network services, added Apostolopoulos.
In effect, Cisco is betting that enterprise IT organizations are going to consolidate networking and security services as part of an effort to reduce the total cost of IT. Cisco may not always be the least expensive provider of an individual router or switch. However, the total cost of integrating networking and security offerings from multiple vendors can add up quickly. The degree to which organizations have the political will and economic capital required to achieve that goal, of course, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it’s also clear that maintaining the current networking and security status quo is not going to be able to hold for very much longer.