Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2024


Orchestrating Change: Automating GÉANT Network Migration

In June 2023, GÉANT announced the successful procurement of a new IP/MPLS layer for a next-generation network and the plan to automate the entire migration process using WorkflowOrchestrator ( and Ansible with the aim to make the process quicker and at the same time more reliable and predictable.

This means orchestrated service management with minimal interaction needed from the operator: no more CLI to configure network devices, all OSS and BSS systems synchronised and a flexible service modelling that accommodates the customizations and optimizations needed in a R&E environment. The adoption of a different vendor, NOKIA in our case, poses significant challenges both in terms of low-level mechanics as well as in terms of service modelling and decomposition.

Now, we are sharing the results of this effort that has involved all the levels and parts of the organisation, profoundly changing our way of working. We are sure that a view into our current progress - especially considering the multi-vendor environment that we manage - will be valuable for anyone involved in the implementation and maintenance of IP networks in the community.

Particular attention will be reserved to the differences between orchestration and automation, how these two topics intersect with each other in managing complex environments and how much the mindset changes in terms of design and implementation process.

GAP - GÉANT Automation Platform - which now manages the new GÉANT network, is entirely based on open-source software and more specifically on the Workflow Orchestrator (created by SURF and ESnet): high-quality software written within the R&E community that works as a framework to orchestrate networks of whatever complexity and scale. GÉANT is contributing to and sustaining it to lower the barrier to adoption so that other organisations can benefit from it and join the initiative.

The other cornerstone of the platform, Ansible, is an open source automation framework with a vibrant community. While not initially created for network devices, Ansible fulfils all our needs and keeps the curve of adoption low. We are eager to share how we used and misused it to achieve our needs in terms of separation between data, design and operations.


Simone Spinelli