Nothing can really replace seeing technology in action and putting hands on the controls to aid in understanding and boost confidence. At Interop ITX, that capability is called the Interop19 Demonstration Showcase, and this year it focuses on network orchestration and automation — technologies that only a short while ago were limited to carrier-class networks but today are within the reach of small and midsized businesses.
The Showcase will be located on the TechFair floor and will be available for attendees to see and explore; they'll also be able to talk with engineering volunteers whenever the TechFair is open. That means Interop attendees will have opportunities to see the Demonstration Showcase on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Interop19, both during and after the major Summits scheduled at the beginning of the conference.
"This year, we're looking at the current trend towards automating or programmatically implementing, managing, and monitoring your network," says Glenn Evans, chief architect and manager of the Demonstration Showcase. He explains that the Showcase will be demonstrating tools such as Python and Ansible playbooks, all the way up to Kubernetes ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana) stacks for automating log and monitoring processes.
Evans says security will be one of the considerations in the Demonstration Showcase. "The security of the network should always be a consideration. Some of the tools we will try and implement do provide security analysis, so the Elasticsearch's elastic search stack is a repository for searching and looking for patterns, and looking at the security," he says.
In addition, Evans says the change management and revision automation that will be demonstrated are critical parts of keeping a network secure and vital to the "everything is software" mindset that's part of the DevOps approach that develops out of basic network orchestration and automation.
One of the major points that the Demonstration Showcase will make is that the tools exist for small to midsize companies to begin adding network orchestration and automation to their infrastructure. Evans says that the tools they will have on display don't require wholesale hardware changes in the organization. And that allows companies to start asking a very basic question.
"How can a single IT administrator or a single network administrator in a small company make their life easier?" Evans asks. "By moving to this software management-type model or programmatic model. It's like moving from spreadsheets to a database. We're moving from cut and paste, typing out commands, to creating a program or an application that will go out and do it all for us."
That automation requires development skill that may be scarce in smaller organizations, but Evans says that the Demonstration Showcase will help by providing playbooks, code samples, and scripts in a GitHub repository that will be available during and after Interop19. "It's a major paradigm shift, and it's a major mindset change," Evans says. "We're trying to make it a little bit easier for those people by having some basic packages that they can expand on."
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