Modern network operating systems (NOS) not only run on high performance physical platforms; they also can provide a containized variant of the same NOS capable of running on a few cores of an x86 processor. This enables new capabilities and use cases previously unavailable to network operators.
Beginning with upskilling network engineers, a digital sandbox enables self-paced education with hands-on experience. The costs of a lab and effort in physical set-up/tear-down lab are essentially removed.
Network Automation is focused on generation of code to configure the network and services. But how is the generated code validated, or is it assumed to be valid? Even if auto-generated, there is still opportunity for errors and deploying into a lab and confirming the results is a beneficial check point to deploying new code in production networks.
Pipelining configuration code to a lab for validation is often necessary and having a digital copy of the networks is the cost-effective solution.