Gluware is a Bain Capital Portfolio Company

Joining Gluware to Bring Intelligent Network Automation to the Masses

Ernest Lefner

By Ernest Lefner, Chief Product Officer, Gluware

Today I formally announced that I joined Gluware as the company’s new Chief Product Officer. This move has been months in the making and marks a momentous occasion for both me and the company. Gluware has momentum like no other network automation provider in the market, which is a testament to both its technology as well as the company’s ability to simultaneously anticipate and solve the major networking and IT challenges that face enterprises amidst cloud adoption, digital transformation, and IT modernization – de-risking the chaos and complexity of enterprise networks at global scale.

This new era in my career is both exciting and frightening. In my role at Ernst & Young, I worked with the different clients they had and came to realize just how difficult it can be to automate infrastructure for basically every kind of company, regardless of its size, industry, or IT maturity. In my nearly 25 years in networking, several themes repeated over and over – IT is constantly growing in scale and complexity, business risks have become more critical, and automation is hard. Fulfillment of its promised value was few and far between. As a result, business leaders, IT executives, and the teams of engineers, developers, and administrators behind them would become frustrated, skeptical, and, ultimately, exposed to risk. By leaving the confines of EY and embarking on this new adventure with Gluware, I am moving closer to the front lines where I will have a greater impact on reshaping the outcomes enterprises achieve through automation. However, I will also have more responsibility and accountability to these organizations, particularly in ensuring that their return on IT and networking investments pay off quickly.

The old school world of network automation involves too much scripting, do-it-yourself, or tool-based automation to be effective. Legacy approaches miss the mark of true end-to-end, service-based automation. “Agile,” “playbooks,” and “expect” have become jargonistic mile markers on the treadmill runner’s journey to automating the network. In thinking about how little the needle has actually moved in the industry, it dawned on me that to tackle this problem with automation, you need to start thinking differently.

Running a network is much different than running any other type of infrastructure. Networks today are sprawling and touching so many different types of devices, operating systems, locations, clouds, and domains. Each one is different with unique circumstances that can impact the ability to gain value from automation beyond the simplest of tasks. But in the end, it’s really all about the data and how you enrich it to allow flexibility, performance, and optionality. It’s not about just building scripts and buying tools, it’s about fostering an ecosystem of intelligent capability that solves traditional IT problems while allowing an organization to take advantage of all the richness in development that exists today, like APIs.  To get this level of automation right and solve this problem once and for all, it takes another level of commitment.

Today, I am recommitting myself to Gluware’s customers and tackling the challenges that enterprises and their IT teams face daily.  As the needs of the businesses evolve alongside digital transformation, cloud adoption, and modernization, the network challenges compound, leaving many environments riddled with outage-causing misconfigurations and security vulnerabilities. Joining Gluware gives me an opportunity to align with a proven automation platform that I have experience with and have seen deployed successfully across several industries. Its suite of applications delivers real-world value offering customers access to unprecedented innovation, battle-tested technologies, and a team of experts that, together, will continue to tame the complexity and inherent chaos of enterprise networks by fundamentally simplifying how these advanced environments are discovered, analyzed, updated, and maintained. In this effort, I am thrilled to be joining Jeff Gray, CEO, and team to make Gluware’s Intelligent Network Automation the definitive solution for the IT and network automation challenges of today and the future.

In this move, I am also changing my role within ONUG, an organization I co-founded to make sure that the requirements coming from the community were reaching vendors and to facilitate an open dialog about building solutions for major enterprise IT problems. While I will remain a co-founder, I will be leaving the co-chairman role with the user side of the community and standing up a new Partner Board focused on the vendor community experience and making sure everyone can gain value from the brain trust the ONUG community provides to our industry.

While I look forward to seeing everyone in a post covid world, why wait? In November of last year, Gluware secured $43M in growth funding led by Bain Capital and is in an aggressive hiring mode. We need the best talent the industry has to offer and I would love to hear from anyone who wants to join us in our drive to automate the largest and most complex enterprise networks on the planet. I hope to see you all in the Spring at ONUG at the Meadowlands Expo Center (In-person!!)  on April 27th and 28th in my official capacity as Gluware’s new Chief Product Officer.