Network automation is the process of using software, such as Python, Netconf, or direct API to automate network and security provisioning and management with the goal of continuously maximizing network efficiency, operations, and functionality. If you have newer hardware, you can automate your network using Restful APIs. If you have legacy hardware, automation involves having a script log into devices via SSH session, running commands to collect required data and/or to apply desired configurations. Network automation shifts the manual tasks and processes performed in each layer of the network infrastructure to software tools and applications that complete them repeatedly.
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Who is network automation for?
Let’s start by reviewing the difference between on-demand automation and full automation. On-Demand automation has been around for years. On-Demand automation is essentially management via a GUI. Any task that is performed in the GUI triggers a correlating script on the back end to complete the task. Full Automation bypasses GUI and/or manual CLI to perform tasks.
While most vendors will tell you network automation is for everybody, the reality is that full network automation is not necessary in every IT organization. There are a few scenarios where full automation is truly needed, such as:
- Service, hosting, or cloud provider environments like AWS, Azure, Google, GoDaddy, AT&T, Lumen, Digital Ocean or Rackspace
- Large enterprises whose network device footprint resembles that of a small to mid-size carrier
- IT organizations that have tedious tasks that are implemented daily or multiple times per day
Network automation benefits
- Improve efficiency — Automating repetitive tasks and tasks subject to human error frees up engineers to focus on larger, more complex deliverables
- Reduce incidents — Leveraging low-code and playbook-powered workflows with the efficiency of closed-loop, intent-based operations, common network issues are resolved spontaneously. The risk for manual process-related errors like configuration errors, typos, and more are reduced
- Increase resiliency — Removing the need for manual intervention during an event or incident allows companies to deliver a higher level of service more consistently across locations
- Gain visibility and control — Automation helps make IT operations more responsive to change through analytics. You gain more visibility into the network and understand precisely what is happening in your network with the ability to control and adapt as needed
Implementing on-demand or full automation lowers costs, increases productivity and drives business efficiency and profitability.