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April 2017, Vol. 8, No. 3

So long command line? Automated networking quietly takes over

When some longtime LinkedIn network engineers look back on the company's first automated networking initiative, officially known as "zero-touch provisioning," they jokingly refer to it as "zillion-touch provisioning." "It was basically a Frankenstein of different codes and scripts packaged together," principal network architect Shawn Zandi said. "It was painful." But that early pain led to later automation gains for the social media site, based in Mountain View, Calif. -- gains that Zandi said have allowed LinkedIn to dramatically scale its network infrastructure. The company now has a dedicated automation team and requires that every new network engineering hire demonstrate proficiency in automation scripts. Network automation -- often mentioned in the same breath as software-defined networking but arguably a distinct, if related, concept -- uses code and scripts to trigger and carry out various network tasks in a standardized fashion. Advocates say it increases efficiency, minimizes inconsistencies and reduces the risk of ...

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