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5 ways enterprise networkers can - and can't - be like webscale stars

Stephen Lawson | Nov. 7, 2016
Agile network technologies are trickling down from companies like Facebook, but not everything translates

3. Explore new approaches that go part of the way

While going completely agile, white-box and software-defined may be beyond an average company’s abilities, there are technologies that offer some of the benefits without all the headaches. For example, Arista Networks sells switches with some white-box benefits, like standard hardware and lower cost, but with service and support included so enterprises aren’t on their own.

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s Altoline switch family is approved by OCP and can be ordered with OSes from Cumulus or Pica8. An open installation environment allows for other OSes, too.

4. Try some easier automation tools

There are also software products that can bring automation to networks from brand-name vendors. These systems take policies based on an enterprise's intent and automatically translate them into code or CLI commands for network devices from multiple vendors. This can be a way around having to hire all those ace developers being lured away by webscale companies, ONUG co-chairman Lippis said. For example, the Apstra Operating System, from the Silicon Valley startup Apstra, can work with equipment from Cisco, HPE, Juniper Networks, OCP and others. It includes telemetry to detect and report on whether the network is really carrying out the intended policies.

5. Get the CEO on your side.

Standardizing and automating a network is easier with fewer applications, and all these efforts require hard choices that some people won’t be happy with. Be prepared for them to fight change all the way up the chain of command, Skorupa says. To keep individual departments from blocking network evolution, you need an ally at the top.


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