Prior to co-founding NetOp.Cloud, I was the CEO of Kryon, at that time a startup company that I pivoted and transformed to become a pioneer and leader in the field of Robotic Process Automation. One day, something happened that I’m sure has happened occasionally in every company, but for me it was a major turning point: our network went down. It took the IT team several hours to get the network back up and working again, which felt like an eternity. As the CEO, I was helpless, watching dozens of hours of productivity going down the drain, since the team could not work; people went home, and we lost the entire day. I couldn’t believe that it took the IT team (which was very experienced, by the way) so long to identify and then remediate the problem, which appeared to be in the hardware and software infrastructure connecting the office to the Internet service provider. Based on this experience, we considered moving our offices entirely and cancelling the rental renewal, which would have been very disruptive to our business. We also moved over to a Managed Services Provider to manage our IT network connection the very next day.
I realized that network operation software hasn’t changed in the last 20 years. Networks shifted dramatically to become the lifeblood of business, while the pool of network experts decreased and enterprise demand for a rich user experience rose, but all the existing solutions were reactive, non-automated or insufficiently automated, and took a massive time investment to produce results.
Since I was so involved in the Intelligent and AI-based Process Automation field, I had noticed that effective automated operational workflows were being rapidly adopted, and I saw the potential to introduce them to both IT and operations departments. Employees in these teams are quick to embrace automation to shorten their work time and increase efficiency while welcoming any productive intelligent insights, and I thought that it could pave the way to a new generation of AIOps in cloud-managed networking.
NetOp arose out of the combination of seeing the potential of autonomous operations, and recognizing the serious need for a holistic, out-of the box vendor-agnostic network management solution that supports self-service cloud network setup and maintenance.
Developing NetOp was a labor of love. I gathered industry experts who have experience with cloud-based management, cloud-based networking, and network optimization. I knew Doron Givoni, my co-founder and advisory board member, and Igor Iris, a talented R&D ninja , because we’d worked together before in other networking and pioneering cloud/service companies, so we joined up to build the company from scratch. We also added Prof Michael Schapira to our team to work with us on the latest research of optimizing network performance using ML techniques.
The biggest challenge that we faced was one of changing expectations. The thought of a user-friendly, automated system that non-experts can use to remediate network issues quickly sounded too good to be true. But we were convinced that it could be done, and now NetOp is successfully transforming the face of network operations.
Besides my personal experience with a failed network, NetOp also grew out of our knowledge that the market was becoming ready for such a solution.
20, 10 and even just a few years ago, the majority of enterprises used on-premise networks were serviced by in-house experts. The enterprise IT team was experienced in managing the hardware that housed the business’s infrastructure.
But over the last few years, networks and applications have been transitioning to the cloud. If you visit most enterprise branches today, the only network hardware you’ll find is some WiFi access points, PoE switches, and CPE- and SD-WAN-based routers. By 2024, it’s expected that 45% of network solutions will be cloud managed networks.
At the same time as in-house equipment has slimmed down, so has the in-house network management talent, creating a serious skills gap. Millennial employees have far less expertise in network management than retiring baby boomers.
While networks have transitioned to the cloud, they have also become enormously important to business productivity. No one can get anything done without Internet access, so stable, secure, and seamless network connectivity is a business prerequisite.
Although in-house equipment has decreased, enterprise networks have grown in complexity and size. IoT radio devices, CBRS, and edge devices began to appear in enterprise settings, making enterprise networks even more disparate and extensive. Visibility and security are ever-growing challenges.
A significant and growing percentage of enterprises have chosen to outsource their IT operations to MSPs (Managed Service Providers). With the transition to cloud based resources and digital transformation, changes to the infrastructure allow networks to be managed remotely. Enterprises are looking for a consumer-like experience that raises the burden of intricate configuration and long trouble-shooting processes from their shoulders.
However, MSP services rely heavily on human expertise and manual work and are expected to deliver seamless networks and a high user experience, all of which makes for very narrow profit margins. MSPs need to improve their margins without compromising on service.
The network management paradigm has shifted to network management abstraction, instead of experts who know how to use low-level commands. Today’s network managers need end-to-end, intent-based, autonomous, self-service tools that can translate their non-technical requests into the correct codes and commands.
Businesses and MSPs need a single automated solution that can manage “day one” setup and “day two” trouble-shooting for heterogeneous networks, configuring and stitching together entities like wireless LAN, cloud apps, cloud and on-prem security, and more into a single pane of glass.
That’s why we developed NetOp. NetOp is a fully automated solution with a rich user experience, a range of engagement channels, single-click configuration capabilities, and AI-based automation that suggests modifications to improve performance and even implements them if the customer desires.
Using NetOp, enterprises can manage their cloud-managed networks themselves without neglecting primary business goals, and MSPs can replace manual configuration and maintenance work with automated processes to serve more clients. It’s a proactive solution which is easily usable by enterprises that are short on genuine IT experts, and MSPs that need to provide services to more customers while increasing profit margins.
NetOp is the giant step forward the industry needs towards networks being as ubiquitous as utilities; enterprises should expect to have full, working network access for all of their needs, in the same way they expect to have water in their taps and electricity in their wires.