Network automation is an imperative if operators are to deliver services with sustainable levels of agility and profitability. Automation enables the network to adapt to events and demands rapidly and efficiently, and supports a new speed of digital business. However, operators cannot buy all the automation they need off-the-shelf: they need to build and/or customize it for their own purposes and environments. This means overcoming cultural, organizational and technical barriers, bridging the separate and often antagonistic roles IT and network departments play today in managing the physical network.
Network virtualization and its emphasis on automation has started to break down technical barriers as IT, and network organizations increasingly need to work in each other’s domains. Network organizations are investigating software-defined networking (SDN) as a means of automating key manual interactions with network elements, and IT organizations are being asked to support network functions directly with data center/cloud components and associated automation. It is clearly desirable for the two departments to start sharing tools, knowledge, best practices, cloud-native software development and operations (DevOps) approaches as their roles converge. Operators that encourage this cross-domain fertilization accelerate the cultural change necessary to build an automated and adaptive network.