Network Programmability: The Enabler of Innovation


As you may have realized, we talk a lot about network programmability as a set of tools to manage and troubleshoot network elements. Much of the conversation centers around the benefits: time and money saved; human error reduction; increased customizability; and easier troubleshooting. All of these are a significant and valued part of making network elements programmable. However, the one benefit that often gets overlooked is the way programmability enables innovation.

I have been talking about this specific benefit for a while and love when I get to share it at conferences or in chats with industry influencers about network programmability. We all start from the basic fact that programs are just software that is being used to do something. Once the software is written and put into the wild, inevitably, someone will find a way to use that software in a way never previously envisioned. We have seen this happen time and time again in the general software market as developers bring together existing pieces of software and build something totally new and innovative on that foundation.  Network programmability enables this sort of innovation to now happen for network management and orchestration. In essence, the foundational software we have now combined with network programmability is being used by programmers at service providers and network element providers to innovate the market’s next steps. I recognize that this isn’t anything new, but a good portion of this innovation is slowed down without network programmability.

Take a moment and think about it. For quite a while, we have been talking about the NETCONF and YANG tool kit and how it enables network programmability in order to automate the network. The foundation of software combined with network programmability is creating the catalyst for innovation into the future of networks. By making devices programmable, service providers can innovate new services and capabilities.

Networks are quickly growing. The technology is constantly innovating. When we get to scale, we need to have all the network elements be programmable so we’re ready to deliver that next innovative idea.

Here are three ways I see network programmability as an enabler of innovation:

  1. It raises the conversation on what can and can’t be done today with the solutions already in place. By looking at what is possible in the network, teams and developers can work together to drive incredible new services.
  2. It helps remove “Ownership” so teams work as they should to build new capabilities and services for customers.
  3. It opens doors for DevOps teams to experiment and test new ideas. Programmability can ultimately help solve complex problems that often occur when new services are deployed.

The benefits of network programmability are about more than just increased efficiency, personalization, and preciseness; it’s about innovation. How are you using network programmability to innovate your business? Share your thoughts in the comments and let us know!

Also, if you’re looking for a great resource to learn and share what’s happening in the network programmability market, check out this Heavy Reading whitepaper: “Enabling Network Programmability & Automation with NETCONF/YANG.”

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