Itential Bets on Low-Code to Automate Networks


By: Michael Vizard

Itential is applying low-code concepts to make network automation more accessible. The concept of low code, originally pioneered by providers of application development tools, uses pre-built reusable tasks components. It's included in  the latest version of the company’s namesake network automation platform, Itential 6.0 using the Workflow Builder.

That low-code approach makes it possible for network administrators that typically don’t have programming skills to automate tasks across a complex heterogenous networking environment, says Itential CTO Chris Wade.

“They don’t have to navigate all the API soup,” says Wade.

Version 6.0 of Itential also provides enhanced support for federated YANG, Ansible YAML and TOSCA formats by exposing components created using those data models via a drag and drop environment that network administrators can use to create forms and workflows.

Itential is trying to define a middle ground between complex programming tools required to provision software-defined networks (SDNs) and traditional command line interfaces (CLIs). By providing a low-code approach building workflows spanning multiple networks, the average network administrator can now visually connect blocks of diagrams to create integrated workflows in much the same way end users are constructing applications using low-code tools without the aid of professional developers.

Other new capabilities in Itential 6.0 include support for role-based access controls, support for higher availability and the ability to create “golden” configurations.

As networks increasingly become treated as code much like any other element of IT infrastructure, Wade says Itential doesn’t expect the network administrator function to be eliminated. Instead, networks will become more flexible and agile within the context of a larger set of DevOps processes that network managers will increasingly participate in, says Wade. As part of that effort, Itential previously announced a DevOps alliance with Red Hat.

One of this issues that is becoming apparent with the rise of SDNs is that various silos of automation are starting to proliferate across on-premises and cloud computing environment. IT organizations will need to find ways to navigate those silos to not only find a way to federate the management of all those silos, but also prevent their organizations from getting lock in to any specific platform.

Most network managers are not likely to learn a programming language or master a data model that is required to achieve that goal. But they might be inclined to employ a visual set of tools that enable them to accomplish the same goal using a modern intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) that enables them to be more productive a whole lot faster.