Network Automation for DevOps: The Future of Cloud Infrastructure

Network Automation for DevOps: The Future of Cloud Infrastructure

Posted by
Alex Feiszli
March 17, 2023

As a cloud DevOps engineer, you're constantly looking for ways to improve and streamline your infrastructure. While you’ve probably done a lot to make your compute run like magic (containers, Kubernetes, serverless), you’ve probably overlooked network automation. That’s okay! Many do, but they are missing out on powerful ways to improve the quality of their infrastructure.

In this article, we'll define nine network automation topics and provide you with some tips to get started. To start, let’s define network automation.

Network automation is the process of automating the configuration, management, and monitoring of network devices and infrastructure. It enables DevOps engineers to rapidly provision new network resources, scale existing infrastructure, and ensure optimal network performance. By automating repetitive tasks and eliminating human errors, network automation can significantly reduce operational costs and improve overall service reliability.

With that, let’s discuss some need-to-know topics in the realm of network automation.

  1. Overlay Networks

Overlay networks are distributed virtual networks are an architecture that provide flexible, scalable, and secure networking infrastructure across your clouds, data centers, and other environments. This approach allows for the decoupling of physical and virtual network infrastructure, enabling organizations to adapt to changing business requirements and workload demands more efficiently. Key components of distributed virtual networking include virtual switches, routers, and firewalls, which can be easily managed and provisioned through automation.

  1. WireGuard: The Modern VPN Solution

Of course, to have a virtual network, you need a virtual networking protocol. WireGuard is an open-source VPN protocol designed for simplicity, performance, and security. It has gained significant traction in recent years due to its lightweight design and ease of deployment. WireGuard can be integrated into your distributed virtual networking setup to secure communications between different environments, such as multi-cloud deployments or edge computing locations. A WireGuard VPN can be set up in only a few commands:

# Install WireGuard

sudo apt install wireguard

# Generate private and public keys

umask 077

wg genkey | tee privatekey | wg pubkey > publickey

  1. Multi-cloud and Edge Networking: Bridging the Gap

In a multi-cloud environment, an organization's workloads are distributed across multiple cloud providers, such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. Network automation plays a critical role in managing and securing these complex environments. By automating the provisioning and management of virtual networks, you can ensure consistent network policies and security configurations across all cloud platforms. The same rules apply to an edge environment, where providing a secure link into these remote environments is vital.

  1. Orchestration Tools and Platforms for Network Automation

Several orchestration tools can help you automate network tasks in a distributed virtual networking environment. Some popular low-level automation tools include Ansible and Terraform. These tools integrate with various network devices and cloud platforms, allowing you to define your network infrastructure as code and automate its deployment and management. Going one level higher are platforms that can automate the creation of overlay networks, which can help you create and modify your networks on the fly to match your changing compute environments, even across clouds and edge environments. Platforms like Netmaker, Tailscale, and ZeroTier can help you keep a fleet of endpoints connected securely.

  1. Monitoring and Observability

Monitoring and observability are essential aspects of network automation. By integrating monitoring tools, such as Prometheus, Grafana, or ELK stack, you can automatically collect and analyze network performance metrics, detect anomalies, and receive alerts for potential issues.

  1. Embracing Network Automation in Your Organization

To truly reap the benefits of network automation in distributed virtual networking, it's essential to foster an environment that takes networking seriously, and integrates it into the DevOps culture. DevOps engineers, network engineers, and other stakeholders should work together to identify areas where network automation can add the most value, develop automation strategies, and share best practices. By bringing the DevOps mindset to networking, your team will be better equipped to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of cloud networking technologies.

In conclusion, network automation is a critical component of modern DevOps. By implementing technologies like WireGuard and overlay networks, DevOps engineers can build flexible, scalable, and secure network infrastructures. Leveraging network automation tools and monitoring solutions will ensure optimal network performance and enable organizations to adapt to ever-changing business requirements. By embracing network automation and fostering a DevOps culture around it, your organization will be well-positioned to thrive in the era of cloud infrastructure and beyond.

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