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What Is NetDevOps? The Definitive Guide

NetDevOps seeks to combine network, development, and operations departments into one collaborative team. By breaking down information silos and integrating network, development, and operations tasks, you can streamline IT processes and prioritize faster and more accurate software releases. In this blog, we’ll define what NetDevOps is and explain how to implement key NetDevOps elements.

What is NetDevOps?

NetDevOps is a blend of Network, Development, and IT Operations. The NetDevOps methodology allows your software developers, quality assurance testers, systems administrators, network engineers, IT support techs, and other key players to work together simultaneously. There is also a heavy focus on operationalizing processes—using a systematic approach to automating and orchestrating network management, development, and operations tasks.

NetDevOps promotes collaboration and operationalization by recommending that you:

Abstract network and infrastructure management tasks as software
Use shared code repositories with version control such as GitHub
Automate critical processes such as testing, configuration deployments, and monitoring
Encourage open communication and information sharing through platforms like Slack
Each of these core principles works together and facilitates each other’s use. For example, implementing software abstraction allows you to manage network and infrastructure configuration files in a shared code repository with version control. Using a code repository also enables the use of automated testing, integration, and deployment methodologies such as CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery). Finally, with a cross-team communication platform, everyone can coordinate their tasks and communicate essential changes that may affect how other processes are performed.

That means you should focus on all these critical areas to successfully implement the NetDevOps methodology.

Software Abstraction

To operationalize network and infrastructure management, the NetDevOps methodology recommends abstracting these tasks as software. That means you can write configurations as software definition files, manage them in a code repository with version control, and automatically deploy and update those configurations to physical or virtual devices. This allows your teams to automate and orchestrate processes, so they can spin up new machines at the speed, scale, and quality your enterprise requires.

Code Repositories

Code repositories are essential for NetDevOps collaboration because they provide versioning control. That means you can track and manage all the changes made to source code and configuration files no matter how many people are working on the same project. You can also use CI (continuous integration) tools to automatically integrate new code as soon as it’s checked into the repository, which will prevent users from accidentally overwriting someone else’s work or breaking existing dependencies.


Automating as many key processes as possible facilitates easy collaboration between NetDevOps teams. For example, automated testing (such as security, load, performance, and integration tests) can run concurrently with other processes. That means QA teams can thoroughly validate the quality and security of your applications and infrastructure configurations without delaying any other tasks. NetDevOps automation is also key to operationalizing and orchestrating network functions, infrastructure management, monitoring, incident response, and other crucial tasks.


While software abstraction, code repositories, and automation provide the technical foundation for a NetDevOps transformation, true collaboration still requires human-to-human communication. NetDevOps is all about breaking down barriers between departments, but your teams may not all work in the same physical location. That’s why you need to invest in NetDevOps communication and information tools such as Slack or Teams. You also need to encourage a culture shift to prioritize open communication and collaboration.


Next, we’ll dive deeper into how your organization can implement these crucial NetDevOps methods.

NetDevOps implementation guide

Now that you understand the theory behind NetDevOps, you can focus on applying that knowledge in your enterprise.

How to implement NetDevOps software abstraction

Software abstraction is crucial for achieving the collaboration and operationalization of NetDevOps. Three ways to implement software abstraction include:


Using infrastructure as code (IaC) to manage configurations for your dev, test, and production servers

Using network function virtualization (NFV) to decouple network services from physical appliances
Orchestrating your network with software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN)

How to implement infrastructure as code (IaC)

The most efficient way to implement IaC is with Puppet, Terraform, Chef, and RedHat Ansible tools. Each tool works a little differently, but there are two common approaches to writing infrastructure configurations as software code:



You define the desired state of the server, or what its final configuration should be. Rather than programming the exact steps to set up the server, you define a list of requirements needed to complete the configuration instead. The IaC tool then figures out on its own how to achieve the desired result. Both Puppet and Terraform are examples of declarative IaC tools.



You define the steps needed to achieve the desired configuration. Then, the IaC tool executes these steps in the exact order and manner you specified, giving you complete control over your infrastructure configurations. You can save these steps and execute them manually or define triggers to automate deployments. In Chef, Ruby-based DSL configurations are saved as “recipes” and collected in “cookbooks.” RedHat Ansible uses YAML code configurations in imperative “playbooks”.

The purpose of IaC for NetDevOps is to eliminate manual configurations. You should write everything as a series of automated, scripted commands and then deploy and manage them from a central location. IaC allows your IT operations teams to spin up new resources quickly and at scale while mitigating the risk of human error.

How to implement network function virtualization (NFV)

It’s important to note here that NFV is not required for the software abstraction of networking appliances; it’s simply one form of abstraction. Using NFV to add a virtual abstraction layer facilitates the orchestration of your software-based networking technology with a hypervisor. That’s why we recommend network function virtualization for NetDevOps—it supports the key principle of network operationalization.

Implementing NFV requires identifying the network services you want to virtualize, and then replacing your physical machines with virtual machines (VMs). Most of the major network appliance vendors offer virtualized versions of their products. For example, Palo Alto Networks provides virtual next-generation firewalls (NGFWs).

To deploy virtual network appliances in your NetDevOps environment, you first need a method for hosting those VMs. For example, Nodegrid hypervisor allows you to directly host virtual infrastructure, such as guest OS, applications, and network functions. It integrates with various NFV vendors including Palo Alto Networks and Cisco, as well as containerization platforms like Docker. The Nodegrid network function virtualization platform gives you complete control over your virtualized network infrastructure.

How to implement software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN)

SDN and SD-WAN separate network management from physical or virtual hardware by introducing a control layer that uses open APIs to orchestrate the entire network from a central location. SDN focuses on the enterprise network, whereas SD-WAN extends to the technology that connects your remote data centers and branch offices to your enterprise. In addition, there’s SD-Branch, which expands SD-WAN’s capabilities by including the actual LAN of a branch office into the central orchestration and control functionality.

To implement SDN, SD-WAN, and/or SD-Branch in your enterprise, you’ll need to decide between two basic approaches:

  • Vendor-specific: If the same vendor provides all your physical appliances or virtual network services, you could opt to use a vendor-specific SDN solution that is optimized for integration with its own services.
  • Vendor-neutral: If you want the freedom to use the NFV and appliance providers that offer the best features for your enterprise’s use cases, you can opt for a vendor-neutral SDN, SD-WAN, or SD-Branch solution like Nodegrid. Nodegrid’s SD-Branch platform allows you to manage everything inside the branch—from networking appliances and servers to smartphones and laptops—using one centralized control panel. Nodegrid’s vendor-neutral software integrates with both NFV and physical networking appliances to give you micro-level control and orchestration of your entire network. In addition, you can swap between vendors to get the solutions that work best for your needs.

Each of these technologies provides a piece to the puzzle of network operationalization. SDN, SD-WAN, and SD-Branch allow you to automate, orchestrate, and control your virtual and software-based networking functions. Software abstraction also facilitates NetDevOps collaboration through the use of code repositories and other DevOps methodologies.

How to implement NetDevOps code repositories

Code repositories provide a central location to store your software source code as well as your abstracted infrastructure and network configuration code. While it’s possible to maintain separate repositories for your application code and your infrastructure/networking code, the best practice for NetDevOps is to store them all together. This is also known as “monorepo”.

One of the benefits of the monorepo model is that it simplifies version management. Monorepo enables the use of continuous integration tools that automatically check new code and configs to ensure they’re compatible with the existing codebase. You can also run automatic and ongoing security tests on all new code as it’s checked in to ensure that software updates aren’t introducing vulnerabilities to your infrastructure. With monorepo, you’re ensuring your application, infrastructure, and network code are all integrated and running in sync.

GitHub is by far the most widely used code repository tool for NetDevOps, but other open source and enterprise solutions offer similar functionality. In addition to version control, some other features in a code repository that promote NetDevOps collaboration and operationalization include (but are not limited to):

Automated CI/CD and testing
Secrets management
Audit logs
Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Code repositories enable your teams to work with the same code simultaneously without stepping on each other’s toes. NetDevOps code repositories also facilitate the use of automated integration, testing, and deployment tools. Using NetDevOps code repositories can help you increase your software development life cycle (SDLC) speed and efficiency without sacrificing quality or security.

How to implement NetDevOps automation

Operationalization means you shouldn’t choose processes to automate at random. Instead, you should take a systematic approach—developing a strategy for which NetDevOps processes you will automate in what order, and using orchestration to manage it all from a central location.

We’ve already talked about the components and processes that you should automate in your NetDevOps environment, as well as the underlying principles and technologies that facilitate NetDevOps automation. Now let’s dig deeper into how to implement NetDevOps automation.

How to implement automated configuration management

Software abstraction through IaC, NFV, and SDN enables automated scripts and playbooks to execute management tasks. For example, imagine you need to deploy 10 virtual routers to new branch offices opening across the country. You could write one configuration script, then use your SD-Branch network controller to automatically deploy it to every new branch simultaneously. You can do the same with patches and updates, and even automatically roll-back changes. And you’re not limited to 10 simultaneous configurations—NetDevOps software abstraction allows you to scale at speed while ensuring consistency and accuracy in every configuration.

Abstracting and virtualizing your network/infrastructure management facilitates the use of SDN, SD-WAN, and SD-Branch solutions like Nodegrid, which provide the automation and carry out the orchestration needed for NetDevOps.

How to implement automated testing

Using code repositories to manage network and infrastructure configurations means you can employ automated testing methodologies. For example, GitHub Actions uses workflows to automatically run CI tests on any new code checked in to the repository. Some examples of automated CI testing you should perform on NetDevOps configurations include:
Unit testing: using a checklist of requirements to ensure the new configuration is correct
Integration testing: ensuring the new configuration won’t break any existing configurations or software in the repository
Security testing: verifying that the new configuration won’t introduce any security vulnerabilities to the existing code base; also, vice versa: making sure the software and third-party dependencies in the repository won’t affect the security of your new configuration
Some code repositories like GitHub include automated testing capabilities. Still, there are also various third-party tools for integrated CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) testing for your chosen scripting language and operating environment. Some examples include Jenkins, GitLab, and AWS CodePipeline.

How to implement automated data center, infrastructure, and network monitoring

NetDevOps automation gives your network and ops teams greater visibility and control over your enterprise, data center, and branch infrastructure. Some examples of automated monitoring solutions for NetDevOps include:
Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software: DCIM provides a centralized control panel from which your ops team can monitor the health and performance of your data center resources. DCIM relies on data provided by sensors and other hardware like serial consoles. You can configure the DCIM with thresholds so it will automatically alert administrators when conditions exceed normal limits.
Serial consoles: To automate your DCIM, you need hardware like serial consoles to collect data from your devices and feed it into your DCIM software. You want your NetDevOps serial consoles to provide advanced features so you can get the most out of your DCIM automation and orchestration.
For example, the Nodegrid line of serial consoles supports the scale and performance needed for NetDevOps with 96 ports and 115,000bps port speeds. Nodegrid can connect with both physical datacenter hardware and virtual machines as well as third-party apps and containers; plus it can simultaneously collect data from sensors, hardware, IoT, and other devices. The Nodegrid serial console supports automated configuration and management through zero touch provisioning (ZTP) and scripting. Nodegrid is a fully vendor-neutral solution that integrates with automated infrastructure configuration tools like Ansible, Python, and Puppet. That’s why Nodegrid is a vital component of NetDevOps automation for datacenter management.
Zero touch provisioning (ZTP): ZTP is another method for automating network device configurations and deployments. You simply connect new appliances to the network, and then they automatically download and run their configurations, allowing you to deploy entire networks at the push of a button. You can implement ZTP on your network in four steps:


  • Set up the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server you’ll use to assign IP addresses and register new devices for ZTP.
  • Set up the Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) server that will transfer configuration files, CLI configs, update files, binaries, and other important files to your ZTP devices.
  • Configure your DHCP server to grant access to your new devices.
  • Physically install new devices at your datacenter, power them on, and connect them to the network. ZTP will then handle the rest of the deployment.
ZTP platforms like Nodegrid make it possible to deploy entire networks at scale from anywhere in the world—especially when you use ZPE Cloud to store and push configurations to your global sites.
Network and infrastructure monitoring: In addition to the data center monitoring provided by DCIM, your ops team needs visibility on your entire network and infrastructure. Automated monitoring solutions range from basic to advanced, using pre-set thresholds to detect issues and automatically notify administrators. For NetDevOps automation, you should look for a monitoring solution that provides advanced features like:

  • Automatic device discovery: Your network monitoring solution should automatically detect new systems and appliances and begin collecting data as soon as they connect.
  • Data visualization: In addition to notifying admins of issues, your NetDevOps monitoring solution should provide visualizations of health, performance, and security metrics. This will empower your ops team to optimize your network and infrastructure continually.


  • Vendor-neutral integrations: Your NetDevOps teams need a holistic view of the entire environment, which means your monitoring solution needs to integrate with all your service, device, and appliance vendors. For example, Nodegrid’s monitoring and reporting platform is designed to work with all your NetDevOps infrastructure and networking providers, allowing you to avoid vendor lock-in while maintaining complete control.
All of these NetDevOps automation pieces work together to facilitate the operationalization of your network, infrastructure, and development processes. Automation also makes it possible for every team member to work simultaneously to achieve faster deployments and releases.

How to implement NetDevOps collaboration

Your people are the most crucial piece of the NetDevOps puzzle. Though you’re striving to automate as many repetitive tasks as possible, you still need humans to write the code, script the configurations, and handle issues that are beyond the scope of playbooks and machine learning. To implement NetDevOps collaboration, you need to focus on key three elements:
Communicating and sharing information: Information silos are the antithesis of NetDevOps, so you need a way to communicate new information to all project stakeholders simultaneously. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. You also need to facilitate communication between individuals on cross-functional teams. Some examples of widespread NetDevOps communication and sharing tools include Slack and Teams.
Providing adequate time and training: NetDevOps requires a significant shift in the way many engineers, admins, and other NetOps professionals perform their job duties. You need to allow adequate time for your people to adjust to new workflows, and also provide training and other resources to support them as needed. For example, not all sysadmins are comfortable writing scripts, so you need to give them time to learn whichever programming language your IaC orchestration platform requires.
Encouraging an organizational culture shift: NetDevOps collaboration also requires a culture of open and honest communication between team members, management, and other stakeholders. For instance, imagine one of your software developers has committed new code to the repository that may introduce a security vulnerability to the server OS. The developer should not only feel comfortable going to their manager to admit the mistake, but their manager should also feel comfortable immediately going to the operations team for help fixing the issue. That means eliminating the barriers between your NetDevOps teams both organizationally and functionally—don’t make teams compete with each other for resources, rewards, or bragging rights, for example. You also need to encourage managers to welcome questions from their staff and avoid punishing mistakes. Everyone in your NetDevOps environment needs to work together to solve problems.
Using collaboration tools, supporting your team members, and encouraging a culture shift will enable a smoother NetDevOps implementation.

Orchestrate and control your NetDevOps environment with Nodegrid

What is NetDevOps? It goes beyond simple cross-team collaboration between network, development, and IT operations teams. Using a combination of software abstraction, code repositories, automation, and collaboration techniques, you can achieve the orchestration and operationalization required for NetDevOps implementation.

What is NetDevOps, and how can Nodegrid help you achieve it? Contact ZPE Systems online or call 1-844-4ZPE-SYS to learn how to orchestrate and control your NetDevOps environment with Nodegrid.