Itential: Intelligent Network Automation in a Low-code Environment

Itential: Intelligent Network Automation in a Low-code Environment

Ian Bresnahan, Co-founder, President and CEO, ItentialIan Bresnahan, Co-founder, President and CEO
“Most of Itential’s customers are in the middle of a journey from a physical network to an easily programmable, software-based modern network,” says Ian Bresnahan, co-founder, president, and CEO of Itential—a provider of intelligent network automation solutions. However, the technical gap between an organization’s existing tools and new technologies coupled with the lack of skills required to deploy networks hinders the migration to the modern network.

Itential defines the modern network as being programmable first, cloud-native for velocity, physical when necessary, application and service focused, and open and standardized for scale. Itential simplifies the journey toward the modern network with its automation solution that enables users to build, execute, and visualize network-intelligent workflows in a low-code environment. “A low-code environment implies that any employee, not necessarily a software developer, can manage and perform changes on the network using our drag-and-drop interface, and its built-in network intelligence bolsters the software’s ability to respond to these changes,” points Bresnahan. Being adept at understanding both the software and complexities associated with networks helps Itential accurately interpret how organizations operate their networks.

Itential’s platform is interoperable with customers’ existing technology as well as new emerging technologies to be deployed including SDN controllers and orchestrators. As a result, the company’s solution enables organizations with large, diverse networks to easily perform changes to the network, such as network upgrades or configuration changes in days, versus years. As an example, an Itential customer needed to transfer 7000 services from one load balancer vendor to another.

Itential’s solution enables organizations with large, diverse networks to easily perform changes to the network, such as network upgrades or configuration changes in days, versus years

Using Itential’s Intelligent Network Automation solution, the company not only accelerated their migration process but also ensured that the network was maintained efficiently. By utilizing its automation platform as one-to-many instead of one-to-one, Itential can manage an entire set of devices simultaneously with keeping up with all kinds of network changes in a fraction of the time it would traditionally take to do so.

What differentiates Itential from other solutions is its ability to bridge the silos that are traditionally associated with managing the network by automating activities across multiple domains, platforms, and organizations. “Itential’s model-centric approach is unique in its flexible and scalable low-code interface that allows advanced logic and simplified programmability,” adds Bresnahan. By democratizing today’s increasingly complex networks and saving time as well as money in the process, the company is making the journey toward the modern network attainable in ways not previously possible.

Itential’s success is driven by its collaborative work culture, with an emphasis on peer accountability and innovation among employees. “We strive to make products that are easy to consume and support, thus expediting our customers’ journey toward the modern automated network by bridging the gap between IT and networking teams,” says Bresnahan. Together, these factors contribute to Itential’s rapidly growing list of customers, which includes six of the ten largest service providers and three of the five largest financial institutions in the world. By using Itential’s products to automate routine network activities, customers can now focus on more strategic initiatives. The company recently expanded adding offices in Europe and continues to invest resources in innovations and R&D. “In the coming months, Itential will be announcing additional key network ecosystem partners along with a number of open source initiatives,” concludes Bresnahan.

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Itential Launches New API Services to Enable Organizations to Move Toward Network Infrastructure as Code

ATLANTA: Itential, the leader in intelligent automation for multi-domain networks, announced at AnsibleFest 2019, the launch of its new API Services that enable organizations to implement NetDevOps concepts and move toward Network Infrastructure as Code. Itential’s new services and tools equip network engineers to incrementally adopt modern CI/CD principles for advancing network automation and programmability.

“The complexity of today’s networks, combined with the lack of investment in modern application concepts, has created a situation where network management applications are constraining the ability to support business and consumer demands,” said Chris Wade, CTO, Itential. “By incorporating a Network Infrastructure as Code approach to automation, enterprises can use Itential’s modern agile software development principles to build, test, validate, and deploy network changes and adopt existing investments in the infrastructure as code ecosystem.”

Itential was designed for DevOps and NetOps teams to accelerate the move toward software-driven networks through automation and agile network operations. NetDevOps allows organizations to adopt CI/CD pipelines with the ability to build, test, validate and deploy changes before they are made to the network. These principles greatly improve velocity and quality while catching errors for a continuous improvement methodology.
Itential’s NetOps pipeline capabilities include:

• Build - Create the building blocks of your infrastructure
Dynamically render configurations from a library of expert built templates
that combine reusable chunks of configuration to create composite configurations. Transform data from one format into another and run optimizers to eliminate redundant or poorly designed config.

• Test - Ensure your infrastructure change does what you intend it to do
Simulate the change before you make it and compare simulation outputs to known desired outcomes. Check to see if your change affects any pre-existing functionality.

• Validate - Ensure that your changes are safe
Check that a configuration is error free, before you deploy it to a device. Run a security scan to see if you're running compromised software and run a security scan to see if your exposed to network threats.

• Deploy - Deploy your infrastructure changes to your network
Leverage tools like Ansible, Terraform, SDN Controllers, and Orchestrators to push changes to your network. Update operational support systems to stay in sync with your network changes and keep track of your changes by tagging and versioning them when you deploy.

To support the community’s efforts to develop NetOps pipelines, Itential’s new Developer Tools and API Services aim to ease the adoption of Network Infrastructure as Code.

• TemplateIDE – An interactive templating environment that simplifies the use of templates for automating network operations. TemplateIDEenables NetDevOps teams to create, edit, and update multiple types of templates such as TextFSM, Jinja2, and Mustache to both intake network device output for key points of data as well as generate network configuration input. In addition, TemplateIDE provides a dynamic library of the most commonly used templates, mitigating the need to write templates from scratch.

• JSONtoSchema – intelligently and dynamically generates JSON Schema based on user provided JSON objects. The JSONtoSchemabuilder makes it easy to quickly visualize and update changes to the JSON Schema.

• Config Validator – Enable NetDevOps teams to find and catch network configuration errors before they are pushed to the network. WithConfig Validator, powered by Batfish, easily determine if a device configuration is syntactically correct by verifying and validating the output of auto-generated network configuration, before trying to apply the config to a device, minimizing the risk of outages

• Policy Analyzer – Assess your network policies such ACL and Firewall for correctness, overlap, and performance with Itential’s Policy Analyzer. Evaluate MAC, IPv4, IPv6 for validity and calculate CIDR block optimization.