Network to Code: Unlocking IT Innovation through Automation

Network to Code: Unlocking IT Innovation through Automation

Jason Edelman, Founder, Network to CodeJason Edelman, Founder “We’ve long followed the history of the Software Defined Networking (SDN) market and realized pretty early on that the main problem to solve was centered around network operations—the day to day management of network environments was and still is largely managed by humans using keyboards,” begins Jason Edelman, Founder, Network to Code. It was a time when the Internet’s amazing success exacerbated the challenges of managing and evolving the network infrastructure. As the Internet and Enterprise networks grew, the industry focus was on protocols, speeds, and feeds. When network automation emerged as an innovative trend, Network to Code, a boutique consultancy, was one among the firsts on the scene to provide an exacting focus on the network automation arena. “We knew early on, that when open networking platforms and APIs on network devices started to emerge, it was going to have a significant impact on network operations. We wanted to lead that effort industry-wide,” says Edelman. “With the increase of network APIs and DevOps methodologies, it was perfect timing for Network to Code to launch as a Network Automation Solution Provider.”

By unlocking the true potential of network automation, Network to Code today assists companies to move beyond the basics of automation to achieve higher levels of IT innovation—and greater marketplace success. “Quite simply, Network to Code is focused at the intersection of network engineering and DevOps,” states Edelman.

The Solution Triad

The New York-based firm provides three core solution-sets to their customers to solve their network automation quandaries. “Each of these areas is uniquely positioned to help our customers minimize manual interactions with the network through the use of network automation,” says Edelman.

First, Network to Code provides both consulting and professional services within the network automation space. “This includes getting to understand the existing, yet manual, workflows each client has while providing solutions to automate and optimize those workflows,” says Ken Celenza, Head of Services at Network to Code. While these workflows often center around configuration management, zero touch deployments, dynamic reports, and general task automation such as VLAN or Switch Port provisioning, Celenza observes that every workflow is driven by the unique requirements of the client. However, there are also common patterns that Celenza and the team have seen too. “For example, the majority of our clients are inclined towards having always-up-to-date network documentation,” mentions Celenza.

Network to Code is focused at the intersection of network engineering and DevOps

“It allows them to open a file or browse to an internal Wiki to check configuration or operational state, exactly in the view they want without having to login to any network devices.” He further adds that clients benefit from being able to issue a series of commands before and after a change to visually see differences in command output often referred to as pre/ post change validation (which is usually done manually). “Automating these types of tasks have been the gateway for many clients to realize the value of automation for their specific environments,” Edelman adds in. “From here, it becomes much easier to expose the network to be consumed and integrated into more business-centric workflows.”

Network to Code is unique in that they provide overall network automation services while also providing world-class training. The robust training program helps their clients move to the next level of understanding and proficiency in the network automation landscape. “We offer training simply because there are many Do-It-Yourself (DIY) shops that don’t want assistance in the overall deployment of automation solutions but are looking for a jump start and training to level-set the knowledge across a team,” Edelman states of these progressive, instructor-led classes. “In our training sessions, we teach what APIs mean for network engineers, how to get started with automation (and some scripting), while also looking at open source tools that can help make network operations more efficient.” The firm’s training courses are updated on a regular basis, always staying in sync with the new world of fast-paced open networking APIs and automation. This training, as Edelman states, “is definitely having an impact on the other players in this space.”

To complement both their consulting and training services, the firm also offers their own line of products tailored to help clients streamline their experience with network automation while simplifying what Edelman describes as “the consumption of network automation tools and technology.”The company offers a cloud-platform meant for testing network automation solutions. “Any custom network topology can be launched in a matter of minutes on our platform,” he adds.

A Simple Approach

While the firm’s solution triad unlocks IT innovations through network automation, Network to Code’s Self Service and On Demand Infrastructure presents the simplest approach of getting started with automation. “Our On Demand platform is a shim layer between our end users and public cloud providers,” says Edelman.

By leveraging Network to Code’s On Demand platform, a firm can launch a multi-vendor network topology—whether it is one, or a hundred nodes, with just a few clicks.
Furthermore, their on-demand labs are specifically used for training courses, but many customers also use it as a platform to perform automated tests since they don’t have a live lab to test on.

Although Network to Code works with clients that vary in size and scope— Edelman highlights an instance where they assisted a client to automate several different areas in their network—through their simple approach. This included creating multi-vendor data model and golden configuration templates; extracting existing configurations directly into their internal Wiki, offering up to date documentation at all times; providing configuration deviation reports; and sending a message to Slack with configuration changes to confirm that everyone is aware of these changes.

Today, the company is witnessing a growing client-base that wants to explore if automation is valuable for them, even for smaller environments. Network to Code takes a difference route to deliver their solution portfolio to these clients. The firm at first spends quality time with the engineers of these firms to understand their day to day tasks. “From there, we help document manual workflows and then analyze the tasks that make the most sense to automate now, next month and next year,” adds Edelman.

The Code to the Future

To simplify the consumption of network automation tools and technology even further, Network to Code is currently in the building its own software. While still in its early stages, the firm expects it to launch by the end of 2017. “We expect to make tremendous progress leveraging our platform to help advance our customers’ network operations teams. If we can continue to assist our customers, we will continue to enhance ourselves,” informs Edelman. The firm has exponentially grown in the past 12 months and Edelman believes that given the state of the industry in terms of the rapid adoption of cloud and automation technology—it’s ‘just the beginning!’ “We have extremely seasoned engineering professionals on our team, who comes from operating large enterprise environments. Our team is competent in delivering new and innovative ideas, communicating often, and puts the customer first—which builds our confidence that we’ll have continued success,” adds Edelman.

"We trust and empower each other while always putting the client first"

Network to Code perpetuates an open, honest, and trusting culture—both internally and with their clients. “Since we are a smaller company, we’re also much more nimble and agile than more traditional solution providers. As we march forward, our goal is to maintain the open culture while continuing to execute and transform the industry.”

Further, Edelman directs that network automation is more than about speed and faster deployment of configurations. “For clients thinking about automation, it’s important to keep an open mind and really examine the day-to-day tasks to see where automation can provide the most value,” he informs.“When getting started, it’s even more important to have small and quick wins to prove the value back to the business – we do not recommend trying to boil the ocean in the first automation project.”
- RMS Shiv
    May 09, 2017