Home > Articles > Getting Started with NetDevOps

Getting Started with NetDevOps

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Automating and Orchestrating Networks with NetDevOps, you will explore main use cases for NetDevOps applications compared with traditional methods. You will gain insights into the decision-making processes, tooling choices, and required skills; and navigate common challenges and lessons learned.

Adoption Challenges

Adopting new practices can be challenging, and although you now know that NetDevOps is a mix of already well-known and battle-tested practices, it is still likely that you will face challenges in your journey.

This section describes common challenges and recommended mitigations associated with the adoption of NetDevOps in organizations of all sizes.

Do not get discouraged if you face one of the following challenges. Adoption of new technologies often comes with initial challenges, but the benefits far outweigh the initial burden.

Remember the RIP routing protocol? Frame relay? Half-duplex Ethernet? When introduced, they were different, disruptive, and folks had to learn them. This initial hardship was, however, worth it. A lot of current networking technologies have evolved from these.

Traditional Mindset

The networking field is commonly associated with traditional or old technologies. Although this is not necessarily a true assumption, some networking practices are indeed rudimentary and old, such as physically connecting to devices via a cable and typing commands one by one on a command line. This is not to say this practice is wrong or that there was a better way of performing these tasks before—if a device was isolated on a network, there were not many options other than physically plugging in a laptop to it. Nowadays, there are more options, such as zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) for Day 0 configuration and the use of automation tools for Day 1 and Day 2.

One challenge you will encounter is dealing with organizations and folks who are attached to the old ways of performing tasks. Before, their way may have been the best way, as just described; however, now, there are likely better ways. Some folks will resist change and refuse to adopt new practices.

A common complaint is, “We’ve been doing it this way for X years.” It is not easy to convince these folks of a better way of doing things; however, here’s one way that typically works: instead of leading with the possible benefits of the solutions you are trying to adopt, perform a proof of concept (PoC) with other collaborating individuals and return to the skeptics with factual results, such as improved time to execute change requests or less downtime. It is harder to ignore results than a business pitch. Likewise, the competition factor of seeing others succeed with different techniques will often increase the likelihood of folks wanting to join in. In other words, they do not want to be left out.

Another important aspect, as mentioned previously, is senior stakeholder support. A clear request coming from senior leadership is harder to ignore than a colleague’s request. For any organizational transformation, leadership support is vital, and NetDevOps is no different. Try to find this support early in your adoption journey, preferably right from the start.

Testing or Lack Thereof

Network testing has always been associated with acquiring additional expensive hardware and putting in extra work. Because of these reasons, and others, testing network changes is often kept to a minimum by most organizations, and many times happens in a production environment. When was the last time you copy/pasted commands into a production network device within a maintenance window without previous testing? What about the last time you tested a network configuration change in a test environment that mirrors your production environment? If you only remember the first scenario, you are not alone.

In the software development world, testing is part of the culture. Writing tests for your code and executing them is a standard practice across the industry. There are even software development processes such as test-driven development (TDD) where tests are written before the actual software implementation of a feature. DevOps embraces testing as a way that enables safe, continuous integration and aims to make sure nothing preexisting is broken with new modifications. Likewise, as you have learned in this book, NetDevOps also makes extensive use of testing for networking. Networks are critical, and network changes should be executed with confidence.

You will encounter two common arguments against the adoption of network testing. The first one is, “This was working fine until now without a test environment.” The second common argument is, “A test environment is too expensive for the benefits it provides.”

To answer to the first argument, you must show how new practices such as automated changes increase the number of changes and features that can be implemented in a shorter span of time, and you must show that testing greatly increases the chances of success without rollbacks. A single maintenance window per year, where all the change requests are executed, is no longer enough to support modern applications’ changing requirements. With multiple changes being executed per month, or even per week in some cases, your organization can benefit from a test environment, which increases confidence in the success of these network changes.

For the second argument, yes, historically test environments were very expensive and required physical hardware. However, this is no longer the case. Although you still can acquire physical hardware and build a test environment, you are not required to because there are plenty of virtualized options.

In Chapter 5, you will learn how to install and configure EVE-NG to virtualize network topologies that can be used as a testbed. Although this is a commonly used tool for network testing, you will also learn about different options you can choose from.

Physical testbeds are still irreplaceable for some products and specific features (for example, when you are trying to load-test a specific hardware model). Nonetheless, network testing now has a lower barrier of entry, and many if not most types of functionality can be tested on virtualized network devices. If you manage a critical network, where you need the maximum amount of confidence in your changes, a physical setup that mirrors your production environment is likely still the preferred choice.

Success Criteria or Lack Thereof

In the “Decisions and Investments” section of this chapter, you learned the importance of having clearly defined success criteria. This is the biggest adoption challenge because it directly influences your ability to show successes. This challenge can manifest itself in one of two ways: lack of defined success criteria or unrealistic success criteria.

The first way is the most common. Folks embark on a NetDevOps journey without a measurable destination. They want to reap the benefits of automation and orchestration, so they set out on their way and make some initial investments; however, they end up quitting before they reach the point of seeing positive returns. Figure 2-13, earlier in this chapter, plots the relationship between investment and benefits. Other folks actually achieve successes, but without a goal or criteria to measure them against, so they end up being shut down by management, who do not understand what was actually achieved.

The second way this challenge manifests is when folks define success criteria that either are too ambitious or are cheatable. If you set success criteria that people can obtain by cheating, you may perceive you are getting benefits when in reality you are not. This contributes to resource waste and bad decisions.

An example of a cheatable criterion is one that measures success by achieving ten network changes a month. However, folks can break a single change into smaller changes, meaning one traditional network change can transform into the needed ten. Therefore, consider how “cheatable” your defined criteria are.

When you set success criteria too high, you might never achieve them. This is acceptable if you understand the context of these criteria or the way the criteria were set up. However, oftentimes senior stakeholders are not aware of either, and they simply look at these criteria as yes/no boxes. If you fail to meet the success criteria, your NetDevOps initiative might be shut down.

Defining success criteria might seem like wasted effort at first, and you might face resistance when you propose defining them. Therefore, explain the “why” behind this choice and how it will contribute later in the adoption journey when everyone understands the progress made.

New Skillset

You learned how NetDevOps requires not only networking skills but also automation and orchestration skills, which are not a natural evolution of networking. Although most folks who embark on the NetDevOps journey are completely aware of this fact, skills are usually still a big challenge in adoption.

You can face two types of challenges: folks not wanting to be upskilled and the organization not wanting to invest in the adoption of this new skillset, either through upskilling or hiring.

For the first challenge, there is not much you can do other than to adopt a hiring tactic instead of upskilling. You might find individuals who simply do not want to learn these new verticals and stick to traditional networking, and that is completely fine. You should not force them; instead, apply a different tactic.

For the second challenge, you can invest in explaining to the organization how these skills are different from the former networking landscape and what benefits they will bring. Many times, this challenge comes from the wrong understanding that NetDevOps is an evolution of networking and therefore the same skillsets apply.

Adding to this challenge is the lack of the needed skillsets in the market. NetDevOps is a mix of different domains and is still a relatively new trend. This, combined with a very competitive labor market, makes finding the right skillset typically very challenging. This also applies to the retention of talent when an upskilling tactic is adopted. Consider this when you find the right candidate or when you are trying to retain that special NetDevOps engineer.

Cisco Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Cisco Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Cisco Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@ciscopress.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Cisco Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.ciscopress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020