Transitioning to NetOps: Best Practices

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Traditional network management has often been broken down into individual teams that plan, deploy, secure, and update enterprise hardware and software in silos. But as enterprises have increasingly moved toward a software-defined network and greater automation opportunities, a new network management methodology has become necessary to efficiently maintain every component. NetOps is a network management strategy that can be implemented on virtually any network. But in order to transition to a NetOps approach, it’s important to prepare your infrastructure, team, and goals for the shift.

Also Read: Top Ways Enterprises Apply AIOps for Network Management

Making NetOps Work for Your Enterprise Network

What is NetOps?

NetOps, a term modeled after the more widely used DevOps, is a strategy for automating spurts of network management across different network verticals. Rather than having individuals or individual teams focus on a single component of the network, a NetOps team is trained to look at the network as a whole and optimize it in iterations over time, all while collaborating with other NetOps team members to ensure nothing gets missed. 

Some common tasks that a NetOps team will handle include monitoring for security and performance issues before they become major problems, fixing issues and applying updates as they become necessary, applying security patches and other security fixes on an ongoing basis, and constantly collecting and reviewing data to ensure that all pieces of the network are performing correctly. NetOps is one of many strategies that adapts the agile methodology to its process, and as a result, many agile-based automation tools are available to make NetOps processes more efficient.

More on Agile Project Management Tools: Best Agile Project Management Tools for 2021

NetOps vs. DevOps

DevOps is one of the most popular collaborative approaches to enterprise tech operations. In DevOps, a development team and an operations team are primed to work together and share best practices as they complete different segments of a software development project or update. Although both NetOps and DevOps focus on finding new efficiencies by breaking down silos and finding project steps to automate, their scope of work is different:

  • NetOps is more specialized in network management tasks, while DevOps can be applied to nearly any development project in an enterprise.
  • NetOps focuses on automating daily tasks and routine maintenance, much like AIOps or MLOps. DevOps primarily works to build automation into every step of application development.
  • Ultimately, DevOps focuses on development environments and products, while NetOps focuses on a network’s hardware and software specifications. Because of the smaller scope of work for NetOps, their dedicated team can make changes to any part of the network more easily than the DevOps team can change their development environment.

Top DevOps Tools to Consider: Best DevOps Tools & Software of 2021

NetOps vs. SecOps

SecOps is another team that works to automate enterprise tech management. However, their focus dives deeper into the security end. They go beyond network traffic monitoring to troubleshoot, assess and resolve major issues, and assess risk across different users and tools. Increasingly, enterprises are encouraging their NetOps and SecOps teams to combine forces, working as a NetSecOps team.

SecOps in Collaboration: A Guide to DevSecOps: What is it and Why is it Required?

Tips for Transitioning Your Enterprise to NetOps

A NetOps strategy can offer a variety of benefits to an enterprise network. But it can also create new challenges if it’s not implemented with deliberate planning. Consider these top tips before transitioning your enterprise’s tech teams to NetOps:

  • Create combined task forces among your AIOps, NetOps, DevOps, and SecOps teams, if any of these teams already exist. They can discuss best practices that work best in iterant delivery.
  • Consider where current inefficiencies can be improved in the network before transitioning to a new operational approach. You’ll only duplicate most of those problems if you don’t address them now.
  • Practice regular and crisis communication across departments. This will teach your team to work more collaboratively and to address problems in real time.
  • Perform a proactive network audit. The audit will help you find network issues that can be addressed in the short-term vs. the long-term.
  • If you do not currently have a holistic tech team, hire professionals who can configure and manage enterprise hardware and software environments expertly.
  • Familiarize yourself with NetOps tools, such as Ansible and other open-source configuration tools. 

More on AIOps and MLOps: Top AIOps Tools & Platforms of 2021

Benefits of a NetOps Approach

If a NetOps strategy is successfully launched on an enterprise team, you can expect to see several of these benefits almost immediately:

Network Agility

The iterant approach to network operations provided by NetOps creates higher levels of network agility. Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) become more realistic, allowing your teams to quickly deliver and pivot as enterprise priorities change.

Less User Error

Automation of network operations makes task management easier for your team. It also lessens the chance for user error as they spend less time on manual, tedious tasks.

Optimized Network Infrastructure

The research you do before setting up a NetOps strategy quickly gives you better knowledge of your current network infrastructure and how it’s being used. NetOps encourages you to learn and incrementally improve network operations on an ongoing basis, frequently leading to more efficient use of existing network resources.

Preventive Network Care

Many enterprise teams don’t address network problems until they’ve already impacted a large swath of teams and tools. NetOps emphasizes preventive network care through automation, orchestration, and provisioning, which improves the overall health of the network.

Cultural Shift for Tech Team

Tech teams are used to working in silos, but NetOps, DevOps, and SecOps all encourage them to think and work collaboratively. With this shift away from siloed teams and project management, your teams can start optimizing process alignment and collaborative projects before they reach the finish line.

Read Next: Best Network Automation Tools for 2021

Shelby Hiter
Shelby Hiter
Shelby Hiter is a writer with more than five years of experience in writing and editing, focusing on healthcare, technology, data, enterprise IT, and technology marketing. She currently writes for four different digital publications in the technology industry: Datamation, Enterprise Networking Planet, CIO Insight, and Webopedia. When she’s not writing, Shelby loves finding group trivia events with friends, cross stitching decorations for her home, reading too many novels, and turning her puppy into a social media influencer.

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