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Reducing the Skills Gap Between DevOps Processes

How enabling Super-NetOps can automate workflows and reduce the gap between infrastructure and developers

Organizations struggle to support modern development/DevOps processes in part due to the skills gap within infrastructure operations teams.

Two years ago, I blogged about the automation and programmability of ACI fabrics. In that post I described that the training did not include python programming, but rather focused on fundamental tools (like Chrome Postman), concepts of Jinja templates, Git for version control, and playbooks to describe workflow.

Nathan Pearce of F5 recently posted a video blog on REDtalks where he provided an explanation of the Super-NetOps persona. In the talk, he describes the skill gap between infrastructure and developers, and shows the progression from mouse and keyboard (CLI) to scripts, templates and then code. One key message from this: The journey is long, so how do we accelerate the process?

One bridge over that gap is enabling the Super-NetOps process by creating tools to automate the creation of templates and playbooks from Chrome Postman collections of workflow. At WWT, we use the process of configuring IPv6 on a Cisco ACI fabric as a sample use case.

In this Super-NetOps process, the SDN architect with the Cisco ACI fabric and IPv6 experience, develops a Postman collection of the necessary steps required to configure IPv6 on the ACI fabric. That workflow collection is exported to a JSON file. The network programmability developer then executes a program to convert the JSON file into Jinja templates and an Ansible playbook. The templates, playbook and variables are loaded into a Git repository, which is referenced by Ansible Tower to implement the workflow, either through its user interface, or API.

The net result of this process reduces the skill gap by allowing the SDN architect to focus on developing the workflow, and automating the process of deploying that workflow to an environment which can be consumed by external services through the northbound API of Ansible Tower.