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NetOps Transformation
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NetOps Transformation book coming March 2021

For many years I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a book about NetOps Transformation. I’ve found myself with some free time over the last year to do just that. Expect the book to be out sometime in March 2021, available on iBooks and Amazon (TBD).

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Here’s a sample to wet your appetite:

Transforming NetOps – The DIRE Methodology TM

Introduction

Congratulations on purchasing this book. You are on the road to understanding network operations (NetOps) through the lens of the DIRE NetOps Transformation Methodology.

Somewhere around 1996, when I was working on a consulting opportunity with the government of Canada, I needed to classify the types of work an operator did every day. Things have not changed in these classifications for almost 30 years but the needs have.

The results of my analysis provided four buckets. Documentation, Isolation, Repair, and Escalation. I hadn’t written them down in that order yet, but quickly realized they spelled DIRE and the acronym was born, evolving ever since. 

We are at a time, in networking where engineers must know multiple vendor CLI syntax, hundreds of protocols and technologies, and dozens of tools. However, the problems of yesterday have not yet been addressed, only amplified by each new “monitoring tool” we deploy. 

While there are many ways that NetOps can impact a business, including preserving the company’s reputation and increasing satisfaction for the network users, most companies are primarily focused on the financial implications of outages. 

A Ponemon Institute study highlights the problems being experienced by NetOps organizations around the globe. 

  • Operator error is the third root cause for unplanned outages. 
  • 63% of organizations feel they do not have the resources to deal with unplanned outages. 
  • 45% of the outages were considered avoidable. 

Source: Ponemon Institute:  National Survey on Data Center Outages, 2016)

While these 3 data points are alarming, they are often not enough to influence a change that will cost some upfront dollars to improve the overall health of the NetOps team. Most companies can deal with moments of chaos as long as it doesn’t impact the bottom-line financials

The fact of the matter is that since the burst of the tech bubble in the early 2000s, companies have been running their NetOps organization as lean as possible, while their networks are growing in complexity, scale, and mission-critical status. 

The challenge has been “planning for the unplanned” which is where the NetOps teams have been struggling. Once activities are outside a small deviation from the norm, structures begin to break down, overwhelming the team to a point where they feel they cannot keep up. 

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

Donald Rumsfeld

Any survival training course will tell you to be prepared for the unexpected. This is where we need to leverage the domain knowledge in our companies, and the how-to knowledge of our experts to plan accordingly. 

We’ve reached the limit of NetOps 1.0 and companies that don’t act fast, are going to be left behind, and continue to be at risk considering the pandemic we are living in right now.

The companies that transform, will see less incoming tickets, faster resolution times, improved service delivery, and reduced friction between teams. 

Using the netops understanding, techniques, and network automation tools identified in this book:

  • One company reduced P1/P2 incidents by an average 34% each month.
  • Another reduced their network audit time from 3 months to 3 weeks.
  • And yet another reduced their escalation rate by 22%, freeing up their senior network engineers.  

I’ve worked on some pretty incredible projects with some even more incredible people, who were all good teachers in their own right. The goal of this book is to pass on the lessons I’ve learned from them and from personal experience, in a way that is simple to remember and provide quick returns.

Below is a brief list of some of the projects I’ve worked on in my networking career. When you contemplate the scale of the team of people it took to make these things happen, remember that is the team I was privileged to learn from, and in many cases, we learned through collaboration. 

  • Creating the first National Internet Service Provider in Canada (iSTAR Internet)
  • Conducting the first trans-Atlantic 10GE testing with CERN and Carleton University
  • Architected a 35-building Research and Education campus network upgrade including its network operations center from the ground up.
  • Deploying and supporting the largest IPTV network in the USA (2016-2017)
  • Creating a CCIE-level vendor/technology certification program, including all training materials, student guides, labs, and certification exams (written and practical) 
  • Creating a Network Automation product that addresses the many needs of network operators.

This book will provide you with a deep understanding of NetOps and guide you with a methodology to transform your network operations into an efficient machine, resilient to change and increasing scale. 

Let’s begin, shall we?

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