New Year, New Plans for Community Network Automation Group

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By Shannon Byrnes - Senior NetDevOps Engineer, Infrastructure Systems & Software, Network Services, Internet2

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Only a little over a year has passed since we announced the official foundation of the NTAC Network Automation Special Interest Group (SIG). It was so brand new at the time that our first monthly meetup took place the very next day. There, we launched our first synchronous discussions on the topic of the decade: automation.

Sharing is Caring for the Network Automation SIG

One year later, we have over 180 members and three show-and-tells, two in-person conference meetups, and 18 Zoom “monthly” meetups under our belt. That’s right, more than one Zoom a month! With so many things to talk about, the Network Automation SIG chose to double the fun by meeting monthly on Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon. This provides more calendar options for the busiest of us and helps our friends from GÉANT and Europe to join us in the daylight — and they bring a plethora of expertise.

Shannon Byrnes speaking at technology exchange 2023.
Shannon Byrnes shares “10 Obscure Things I Learned Automating” at TechEX23.

(If you aren’t already familiar with what GÈANT is doing in the network automation space, do not miss out on their Network Automation eAcademy project! One of our very own SIG members, Maria Isabel Gandia Carriedo of CSUC, is the GÈANT service manager for the project.)

Aside from the Zoom monthlies, the Network Automation SIG Slack conversation has continued to grow. Weaved in the many messages about best practices, new tools, philosophies, and knowledge sharing, an ad-hoc discussion arose on the need for Git and continuous integration workshops. That led to the 2023 Technology Exchange workshop on GitOps and Packaging, co-instructed by SIG volunteers like Blake Dworaczyk of Texas A&M University. Between that and the fantastic virtual show-and-tells provided by SIG members from Rutgers and Brown University, I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone band together to solve problems and share expertise — making the community stronger as a whole.

New Tradition, Training Inbound for 2024

Speaking of Technology Exchange and banding together, a new tradition is incoming. Frank Seesink of UNC-Chapel Hill leveraged the SIG to recruit volunteers for TechEX23 Network Automation Tapas, a robust panel of bite-size presentations on various parts of network automation. The Tapas panel was met with wonderful reception and will reappear at TechEX24. Don’t miss it! The Network Automation SIG is becoming a home for crowd-sourcing automation content applicable to the R&E community.

Going into 2024, I am picturing myself writing a blog at the start of next year with the same disbelief reflecting on the number of things we accomplished. This will be a big year for training. We are starting off by coordinating with multiple member institutions and acclaimed network automation content providers like NetworkToCode to provide in-person and virtual training content. Our goal is also to reduce costs for our members. Stay tuned.

If you are joining us for the 2024 Community Exchange next month in Chicago, please watch for another SIG-led talk about Building a NetDevOps Team on Thursday, March 7. Also, join us again for the in-person SIG meetup on Wednesday, March 6. We’ll make sure there are enough chairs this time.

2024 Internet2 Community Exchange logo

The NTAC Network Automation SIG is open to Internet2 members. If you want to join, please submit the SIG Subscription Form. The next monthly meeting is 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, Feb 20.