Juniper Networks has jumped on the network automation train announcing the EngNet, a set of automation tools, resources, and social communities, with the addition of the NRE Labs, a web-based, on-demand automation curriculum focused on the emerging network reliability engineering (NRE) role.
While most current networks are still dominated by manual operations issued through the command line interface (CLI), a recent Gartner report suggests that “by 2022, only 25 percent of network operation will use CLI”, which is a significant drop from 70 percent seen today. According to Juniper, this move needs an industry-wide rethinking of the approach to network automation.
Although it sounds a lot like Cisco’s intent-based networking, Juniper is actually taking a slightly different approach, putting everything, including the automation tools, resources, and social communities into a single site, the EngNet. It features API documentation, access to various Juniper Labs, virtual resources, a learning portal and an Automation Exchange of useful network automation tools, allowing Juniper customers and partners to contribute to the Automation Exchange within the community.
In addition to the EngNet, Juniper also announced the NRE Labs, a web-based interactive network automation lessons that focus on real-life workflows like troubleshooting, verification, and configuration, which should make lives of engineers and network operators much easier.
The NRE Labs, which is built as an open-source project, is inspired by reliability engineering (SRE) movement site, allowing network reliability engineers to practice their automation proficiency and apply their learnings and make it easier to automate workflows on their network.
“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 at 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 at Juniper Networks.
Juniper also unveiled the Cloud Customer Certification Labs (CCL), a platform in the Juniper cloud which allows users 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).
Juniper will also offer several extended services with a variety of educational, professional and advanced engineering services to improve network automation capabilities, including 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. These extended services also include Juniper Automation and DevOps training courses which 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.
You can check out more information about Juniper’s network automation from Bikash Koley’s “A New Anthem for Network Automation” blog post or the “Juniper EngNet and New Automation Offerings: Bringing Automation to the Masses” blog post written by Stefan Fouant, Juniper Ambassador. You can also check out dedicated Juniper Engineer Network website.