Juniper Networks fosters adoption of network automation

Juniper Networks released new offerings to accelerate the industry’s adoption of automation practices. With this latest announcement, Juniper is unveiling a collaborative community that includes tools, labs, libraries and an exchange of applications to accelerate automation adoption for companies and individuals.

Juniper EngNet features access to virtual devices that run in the cloud, complete with documentation, along with a suite of tools to move from manual to automated operations.

To complement Juniper EngNet, Juniper designed NRE Labs, a web-based, on-demand automation curriculum focused on the emerging network reliability engineering (NRE) role.

Juniper is also announcing additional professional services to help enterprises break ground on automated testing, a key thrust for any enterprise looking to leverage automation to do more in their network.

Despite nearly two decades of industry effort to drive network automation, network operations are still dominated by manual operations issued through the command line interface (CLI). Compare this to a Gartner report that forecasts that “by 2022, only 25 percent of network operations teams will use the CLI as their primary interface, which is down from more than 70 percent today.”

Migrating an industry from 70 percent CLI to 70 percent automation requires rethinking of the approach to network automation. If automation is to become a mainstream practice, the industry needs to do more than create new products.

The success—or failure—of automation in networking will depend as much on the people as on the technology. This means that the education and upskilling of the existing network engineering teams are critical in modernizing the network to keep pace with advances in compute, storage, applications, cloud and multicloud.

With the released offerings, Juniper is making the individuals behind network operations—not the vendors and their products—the centerpiece of this industry evolution.

Juniper EngNet and supporting tools and services are about moving individuals forward in both their skillsets and careers. By providing tools, virtual resources and a collaborative community, Juniper is putting customers first.

Through hands-on practice and experimentation, these new offerings aim to ease and accelerate the adoption of automation across network operations, processes and workflows. This will give NetOps teams an industry advantage by advancing their automation skills, practices, and processes so that automation doesn’t remain a specialized practice that only a select few can leverage.

Juniper EngNet consolidates a spectrum of automation tools, resources and social communities into one single site. The site features API documentation, access to various Juniper Labs, virtual resources, a learning portal and an Automation Exchange of network automation tools.

Juniper EngNet is aimed at elevating the entire networking community to move beyond only knowing the incumbent’s CLI knowledge and toward an automated, abstracted self-driving technology. The networking community, including Juniper customers and partners, can contribute to the Automation Exchange within the community.

NRE Labs provides engineers and network operators an in-browser experience with quick-paced and interactive network automation lessons that focus on real-life workflows like troubleshooting, verification and configuration.

Inspired by the site reliability engineering (SRE) movement, with NRE Labs, network reliability engineers can practice their automation proficiency and apply their learnings. In doing so, they can automate workflows in their own network using the open tools from the lessons. Built as an open-source project, NRE Labs can now be accessed by anyone interested in advancing their automation expertise free of charge.

Cloud Customer Certification Labs (CCL) provides users with a platform in the Juniper cloud to design and run a virtual lab environment consisting of networking systems, traffic generators and other network automation tools, such as Juniper’s Network Implementation and Test Automation (NITA).

For users without their own physical labs or those who want to supplement their labs with Juniper’s cloud, Cloud CCL provides network engineers with a critical environment for automated testing and staging.

Juniper’s extended service offerings provide a variety of educational, professional and engineering services to improve network automation capabilities. For example, Juniper Testing-as-a-Service (TaaS) uses the new Cloud CCL to replicate customer network topologies, configurations, traffic flows and real-life environments, validating all planned changes and to emulate future requirements.

Cloud CCL helps users validate functionalities of scheduled upgrades or changes, mitigating any risk to the production network.

Juniper Automation and DevOps training courses are now also available at introductory and intermediate levels, along with exams to certify engineers at JNCIA and JNCIS respectively. Additionally, as part of Juniper’s global OpenLab Network Automation Throwdown Program, Juniper is offering new events for network engineers interested in using NRE Labs and Cloud CCL in person.

“Imagine a world where car makers kept pushing out new vehicles every year, but drivers’ education never existed. You’d end up with stagnant automobiles that no one knows how to drive. Automating the network is no different. Every year we hear of a new product that can automate “this” or program “that,” but if you don’t first start with the people, process and cultural change of automation, then you’ll never see anyone actually adopt it. Our multifaceted initiative announced today aims to close the gap between automated product and automation skillsets to foster adoption across the industry.”, said Bikash Koley, Chief Technology Officer, Juniper Networks.

“For years, the industry has relied on incumbent network vendors to guide them toward a more automated future. At some point, we have to realize that this isn’t working. For a company whose greatest incumbent strength is the CLI, perhaps it’s not even in their best interest to move the industry forward. It’s time for a new crop of companies to step in, providing more than just products. If we are to move forward, we need leadership in both technology and practice. Today, Juniper Networks is taking an important step forward for Juniper and all the network operations teams for whom continued inaction represents an existential threat.”, said Michael Bushong, Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise Marketing, Juniper Networks.

“Juniper Networks’ consistent support of automation has enabled us to embrace automation in a straightforward, cost-efficient way. Automation is now one of the key capabilities of the team, acting as a multiplier of our work and allowing us to scale while keeping costs under control. We have turned Juniper’s automation capabilities into a powerful tool to deliver value to the organization by dramatically reducing configuration mistakes and time to deliver, ultimately positioning the network team as a reliable partner for the business.”, said Alejandro Salinas, Head of Networking at Groupon.