- What is Network Automation
- How Does Network Automation Work
- How Do You Achieve Network Automation
- Is Network Automation Connected with DevOps or NetOps
- What Are the Components of the Network Automation
- Network Automation Examples
- Benefits of Network Automation
- Network Automation Tools
- Best Practices for Network Automation
What is Network Automation
What is network automation? Many processes in network infrastructure are maintained mostly manually, for example, logging into routers, switches, load balance, testing, device discovery, inventory, and others.
Network automation removes all those manual operations and implements technical tools for managing network infrastructure and services. Network automation helps businesses to save time and money and make the processes more flexible and agile. It became possible with automating resource provisioning, network testing, and mapping.
How Does Network Automation Work
The general principle of network automation is to find the most efficient way to map, configure and manage networks. You can automate the network infrastructure in different ways. The most common solutions are command-line automation and using network automation software.
The traditional way is to automate the network through the CLI of the devices. This type works for standard processes and falls apart in case of strategic network infrastructure and operations changes. At the same time, this automation type requires network engineers to know programming languages, which can be challenging.
Moreover, advanced automation software analyzes if the network can handle configuration requests even before implementing it.
At the same time, many new solutions use big data and machine learning in network automation to find the best way to configure networks and achieve specific business goals.
How Do You Achieve Network Automation
As we mentioned already, there is not only one right decision for the network automation process. You will choose the type, path, and temp of network migration that fits your business goals. At the same time, a few basic steps can help you find the best way of automation and achieve the goal.
- Design the network. At this point, you need to focus on clear visibility, logic, and mapping of future automation.
- Establish policies and profiles. You will have some network deployment standardization rules and basic guidelines you will need to implement.
- Prepare the network and connect. The most significant step in the process includes plug-and-play provisioning, branch virtualization, and software image management.
- Manage automated lifecycle. After you achieve network automation, you need to ensure the quality of operational management and test it for some time.
Those are essential points you need to focus on to achieve network infrastructure automation and improve the manual processes.
Is Network Automation Connected with DevOps or NetOps
In ideal circumstances, DevOps and NetOps are independent parts of the development process. At the same time, we can say that network automation is connected to both DevOps and NetOps because automation and orchestration is a DevOps concept that NetOps brings to network infrastructure. Furthermore, NetOps works on running the platform for network automation operations. Some believe that NetOps is not interested in automation, but nowadays, we can see it is not so. In practice, NetOps teams use DevOps concepts to build automated network infrastructure.
What Are the Components of the Network Automation
There are two basic and most common components that can be automated in network infrastructure - the automation of network configuration and the automation of load balancing.
- Network configuration. The manual setup can cause an unstable network, and as a result, you will not be able to provide a high quality of operation. It would help if you started with network configuration automation to standardize the processes and manage the network for applying the best practices.
- Load balancing. The next part of network automation is to ensure that the application loads are balanced across the infrastructure. Changing manual loading to automated will make the network faster and more reliable.
Network Automation Examples
Most businesses use automation software to achieve their specific goals by changing network management. It is often used in companies that experience unexpected usage surges, as automated networks can manage it more efficiently. Another well-known example of network automation is restarting failed devices or services. If you find that your network's operations are running slow, you can automate the response or task and do not use manual service restarting.
An excellent example of automation use is backups regulation in your network. If your system makes regular automated backups, you can ensure data safety.
Network automation can be used for employers' onboarding and outboard, reconfiguring device settings, or generating reports on every change in the network. As you can see, the examples of network automation are broad and diverse, and you can find the best one for achieving your business goals.
Benefits of Network Automation
What are the benefits of network automation? First, you need to automate the network, as it is typically created and operated manually. It means that all network updates are pretty slow and not protected from errors. This is the most crucial cause of network automations.
Moreover, you can find the following benefits from this process:
- Get more efficient operations. All automation network tasks can be run 100% faster than in manual-operated networks.
- Decrease the number of errors. It became easier to prevent mistakes with automated networks, as the human influence is low.
- Save money on operations. Network automation systems will help to achieve business goals faster, as they will work more efficiently. It will reduce the processes, cut the resources and optimize software for better work, and as a result, save costs for the company.
- Get more time for strategic work. When part of the network processes are automated, the existing workforce will have time for strategic tasks and running improvements and innovations for business.
- Improve insights. Automated networks will produce more accurate data for analysis. You will get more visibility of the network and understand better how it works. As a result, you will get new insights that can help you in strategic business planning.
Network Automation Tools
As we mentioned already, there are a variety of platforms, tools, and techniques for CLI-based and GUI-based automation.
As discussed, CLI-based automation is the most commonly used network automation tool, but it requires knowledge of scripts. It is not an easy task, especially with complicated networks. You can use Red Hat Ansible, Chef, Puppet, or other similar instruments for this task. At the same time, there are open-source tools that can provide a library of CLI-based commands.
GUI-based software is an improved version of CLI-based network automation tools. At the same time, they are vendor-specific tools and can be pretty expensive. Furthermore, you can focus on GUI-based platforms that are vendor-agnostic. One such platform can replace several proprietary software solutions. It is also much easier to use, as you can deploy it once, and the platform will manage all the operations and additional devices in the network.
Best Practices for Network Automation
In the next paragraph, we will briefly describe the most efficient practices for network infrastructure automation.
- Network analysis. First, you need to make a network incentive and evaluate the servers, routers, ADCs, LANs, and firewalls. In this step, you need to collect all possible data on your network to determine if your network is ready for automation. If you realize that it is not prepared for the update, you need to focus on fundamental restructuring first.
- Key areas identification. The next step is to figure out what areas you need to automate first. You can start with a list of the most time-consuming processes and plan its automation. Usually, this list consists of functions related to network configuration.
- Choosing a tool. After you figure out what to automate first, you need to select the technical tools or platform for this process. Choose the instrument that will fit all your goals and manage your automation must-have list. Pay attention if the platform has vendor support and the ability to integrate with other network software.
- Train the team. Before running the automation process, you need to ensure that your engineers, DevOps and NetOps teams know how the new platform works.
- Focus on security. The essential point is to ensure all safety measures in the transition process and not lose the data.
- Continue to explore. Do not stop on automation only one or two operations. You need to analyze the platform and improve the other network processes.
The future of network automation is connected with AI, machine learning, and data science. These advanced technologies will help deliver an accurate analysis of network operations or provide specific upgrades on service requirements. In any case, it will bring new opportunities for businesses that invest in automation processes.
In this text, we tried to answer the most critical and fundamental questions on network automation to help you better understand this process, as Cprime Studios' experience in this field is quite profound. We focus on network automation for decades and grow our expertise on the best-implemented cases. If you still have questions on how to automate your network, you can contact our specialists.