It’s not hard to debate that sausage has conquered the culinary world. The global popularity of sausage is undeniable. Chorizo, linguica, luganega, wurst… cocktail, weiner, franks, brats… Lamb, pork, chicken, goat *gasp*… Broiled, fried, grilled, smoked, cold, hot… You get the picture? Lots of sausage, lots of varieties, and lots of methods.
Sausage has a primary defining characteristic. The meat must be chopped up. That’s it! This is where I draw an initial parallel to a network. A network moves data. After that, anything goes with sausages, or networks. Maybe you have a network of sausages? Maybe you’re a network engineer at a sausage company?
Sausages are also very regional, sort of like networking vendors. Your home tribe may consume just one type of sausage. Maybe your tribe likes a wide variety of sausages. There is nothing wrong with either food choice, that’s just your taste.
The networking world can easily draw many parallels with sausage making and I could go on for hours about how the “sausage gets made”. Our presenters at Networking Field Day 21 talked a lot about one specific aspect of sausage making — network sausage automation.
So, if you like sausage, do you prefer sausage from a package or fresh sausage from a butcher? Network automation parallels this quite well. I like sausage from a butcher, but if I’m cooking for 500, I may use sausage from a package. It doesn’t mean I’m going to eat sausage from a package 100% of the time. I want both, but for different reasons. So give me network automation for the time I want to do something 500 times, but I don’t want automation for the design. I’m looking at you, [insert vendor here] that’s going to “green field” my data center with your “automation”. No thanks click-button-get-fabric.
Is network automation going to take your job? That depends. Are you a sausage stuffer? If you’re going to stand there and stuff someone else’s sausage all day long, then you ARE replaceable. According to Replaced by Robots – Sausage Stuffer, there is a 98% chance that “Sausage Stuffer” will be replaced by robots. Those automation machines exist and those packaged sausages are likely never touched by human hands. Life pro tip – don’t be a sausage stuffer. Create a recipe, be the chef, get your hands dirty, touch the sausage.
Also, according to Replaced by Robots – Network Engineer, there is a 3% chance of Network Engineers being replaced by a robots. I believe that statistic is very accurate. There are to many different kinds of sausage to believe a machine is going to automate your recipe. Unless you build the sausage automation machine. However, that isn’t an easy thing to do. Networking vendors spend millions on scalable platforms to perform all the necessary layers of automation. I hate to say it, but your *nix box with a few playbooks is not a ‘platform of automation’. It will help you package some sausage, but you made that sausage, created the recipes, and hold them dear, and call them George.
Some Networking Field Day 21 presenters showcased their automation platforms specific to their own solution. Some presenters showcased their multi-vendor approach to a platform. Either way the point was very clear, automation platforms are incredibly hard to build, maintain, resource, and pay for. Entire companies are being built around platform creation and very few, very very few companies are internally well equipped to build a platform. Some companies think they can make their own sausage, package it, sell it, and eat it, but that is a long way from reality. If you’re not already talking the language of cloud native application architecture, maybe stop now and budget a purchase.
I once received some advice from a rocket scientist, “Configure, don’t customize, a boxed product. The moment you customize then you become the owner, the developer.” Wouldn’t that also translate to trying to automate all the ‘boxes’ on your network? Engineers in the field are barely able to keep up with the rapid pace of change from one vendor and you’re going to create a platform that keeps up with the API changes of one vendor, two vendors, three vendors??? Seriously, don’t choke on your own network sausage automation.
I’ve always enjoyed seeing different visions of the sausage making future. Networking Field Day 21 showcased several of those visions and I have some more specific posts on the way. Will network sausage automation become a reality? Well, again, that depends on your tribe, your tastes, and your budget.
Alright, I need to wrap this up. 😉 I hope you’ve enjoyed networking sausage automation. Is wasabi sausage a thing? #sooory
—– A Networking Field Day 21 Reflection —- #NFD21 @TechFieldDay