Network automation is the process of automating the configuration, management, testing, implementation, and operations of physical and virtual devices within a network. Network tasks and functions are performed automatically every day. Using a combination of hardware and software based solutions, large organizations, service providers and enterprises can implement network automation to manage and manage repetitive processes and improve the availability of network services.
Today, networks are fully capable of performing the following tasks:
Manage bandwidth and find fast routes to implement the best computer paths
Conducting root cause analysis
Update and install routes
Set performance benchmarks
Implement security and compliance
Working together, automation and orchestration simplify network operations with complex configurations and device management, while providing the business flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing environment. You can think of automation as performing repeatable tasks without human intervention, and orchestration as the process of stringing together a series of these tasks to accomplish a process or workflow.
Boosting network automation is the rapid expansion of network infrastructure needed to support the exponential growth of network traffic generated by video, social media, data and application usage. In addition, as computing power continues to drop in cost and virtual computers continue to grow, network automation is becoming more available to many companies. Different types of network automation can apply to local area networks, virtualized environments, data centers and public and private clouds.
For many organizations, the lack of agility to adapt to network changes has become a bottleneck, preventing these companies from implementing a robust and highly responsive data center infrastructure. For service providers, automation is the cornerstone strategy to focus on to increase network flexibility and reliability while controlling operational (OpEx) and capital (CapEx) expenses. To improve operational efficiency, margins and customer satisfaction, service providers can automate routine and complex tasks that can be time consuming, repetitive or error prone. The openness and interoperability of automation support APIs, standards-based protocols and open-source automation frameworks (such as Ansible, Saltstack, Puppet and Chef). Service providers and companies can leverage those automation frameworks to accelerate their migration to network automation.
By automating network functions and implementing software products that provide automation, organizations benefit from the following:
Lower costsBecause automation reduces the complexity of your underlying infrastructure, significantly fewer man-hours are required to configure, deliver and manage services and the network. By simplifying operations, consolidating network services, reducing floor space and shutting down underutilized devices, you need fewer staff to troubleshoot and repair and save energy.
Improve business continuity-By removing the risk of human error, companies can offer a higher level of service and deliver with greater consistency across all industries and regions. For example, Juniper Networks’ Service Now is an external, automated troubleshooting client that allows Juniper to quickly and proactively detect problems in a customer’s network before they become aware of it.
Increase the strategic workforce-By automating repetitive tasks that are subject to human error, companies increase productivity, driving business improvements and innovation. As a result, new jobs are created for the existing workforce.
More insight and network control-Automation helps IT operations respond faster to changes through analysis. You will gain more insight into the network and understand exactly what is happening in your network with the ability to monitor and adjust where necessary.
Increase the agility of your company-Automation enables companies to develop operational models that improve time-to-market. You can add new services, test new applications and troubleshoot. The time to make improvements is reduced, resulting in greater competitiveness and elasticity, and ultimately greater profit for operating results.
Network automation: build or buy?
Once you’ve decided you want to automate your network, the next decision is: do it yourself, outsource it, or a combination of both? By answering these questions, you can make your decision:
Which network automation technologies are best for your needs?
Do you have personnel with expertise in automation technologies?
Do you have enough human resources to deploy automation technologies?
If not, does your provider offer professional services that can help your team automate your network?
What are the risks of automation and how do you reduce the risks?
What are the benefits of automating sooner or later?
Do you know how to automate your network?