Itential, Kentik Partner on Network Automation


By: R. Scott Raynovich

DENVER -- Network and cloud automation specialist Itential on Monday announced that it has partnered with network observability company Kentik to build more network automation solutions for network operations (NetOps) teams.

The news was announced here at AutoCon 0, the debut technology conference targeting network automation. One of the key themes of the first day of the conference was how to push network automation forward by fostering cooperation among vendors, including better integration and sharing of application programming interfaces (APIs).

Itential and Kentik said they will target integrations that can help automate security, network optimization, and reliability. Kentik’s observability platform collects telemetry input from network elements to provide data for insights and actionable alerts for infrastructure engineers. Itential provides low-code and no-code automation targeting hybrid and multicloud networks. It’s also looking to integrate with IT systems to orchestrate end-to-end change management.

Aiming for Closed-Loop Automation

One of the challenges outlined by many participants here at AutoCon 0 was driving closed-loop automation across technology silos, such as enterprise networks and cloud networks.

Chris Wade, CTO of Itential, said the integration with Kentik will enable better automation by helping customers connect their observability data to an automation system using APIs.

“Automation and observability have long been independent pillars of network innovation,” said Wade in the company’s release. “As infrastructure becomes increasingly distributed, enterprises now require observability data to integrate with and drive their automation efforts.”

Wade was also a speaker here at AutoCon, where he pointed out that network automation needs to attain some degree of consistency and “commodification” to reach critical mass, such as happened with virtual machines or Kubernetes for the cloud.

“We need to think about automation and we need to talk about where to move together to commodify,” said Wade.

Additional participants struck a similar theme throughout the day.

“We need to treat network automation as a product,” said Kirk Bridges, owner of Twin Bridges Technology, on one of the panels. “It needs to be business relevant."

Connecting the Ops

Network engineers gathered here at AutoCon to collaborate on systems that drive more automation into networking infrastructure. There were several recurring themes, such as the challenges of getting systems to work across operational silos such as DevOps and NetOps, as well as the demand for more APIs and consistent interfaces among different platforms, such as cloud networks and communications networks.

“It's important to have the same language," said Urs Baumann, network automation engineer with Swisscom. “Network engineers need to understand software, and software engineers need to have some understanding of networking. They need to have the same language.”

Kaon Thana, staff network engineer with the New York Times, also pointed to the need to connect cloud environments with on-premises enterprise environments.

"There is a a gap. Cloud environments are homogenous and lend themselves to programming. It's consistent. On-prem is not consistent. We have to create our own consistency, and there are some challenges."

Presentations continue here at AutoCon today (Tuesday, November 14). We'll provide some updates at the end of the conference.