How to Enable Network Automation for All

March 9, 2020 | Rich Martin
How to Enable Network Automation for All

If network automation is a journey, then every journey starts with a single step. Most networking teams can quickly identify the first steps they would like to accomplish with automation, but these steps are typically the most repetitive and time-consuming and come at them so quickly and frequently it becomes practically unmanageable. As the business grows, the rate of these changes will also increase.

Most of us can resonate with the most popular network automation tasks – network OS upgrades, configuration, and compliance, and device onboarding are all perfect examples. Despite the initial enthusiasm to adopt automation as a tool to manage these problems, many times the journey abruptly ends before the first step is taken. The realization is that in order to automate these simple tasks, they have to become fluent in a world filled with programming languages and development tools. They simply do not have the time and the passion to become developers, and so automation doesn’t even get to take the first step.

Instead of investing in a library of O’Reilly books and writing code for weeks and weeks, it would be more valuable to enable networking teams to use the right tool for the right job (no matter the domain or department). These tools should be built with the purpose of empowering the networking team to transfer and capture the knowledge and experience that they have acquired over the years. The output of their work would take the form of a logical progression of steps for a specific network task. Using these tools must present a low barrier to entry — much lower than learning to code from the ground up. The tools should work together as a natural way to help them describe something they instinctively know, having done these tasks over and over many times, but now it will be expressed and captured in an automation workflow. The workflow would be simple to create, simple to follow, and simple to modify by the original author as well as anyone inside and outside of the networking team. With the workflow created, it can now be tested in a controlled environment and will ultimately become a tool to be used in the production network. These repetitive tasks can now be completed more quickly through automation and allow the team to do even more work in the same amount of time, quickly reducing the backlog they’ve been burdened with and giving them the margin to handle even more tasks in the future.

It logically follows that if these tools are productive for the networking teams, the same automation methodology should be available and useful for the other technology teams and their domains. The same platform should respect the tools and systems within the other domains and integrate with them through defined and documented APIs. If automation scripts have already been built by these teams, the platform should be flexible enough to integrate with all of that hard work, so that all of the same systems, tools, and scripts they are leveraging are available to be used in the automation platform.

As multiple teams continue to build automation workflows for their domains, they should be able to publish these tested and trusted automations to be utilized across multiple groups to provide full end-to-end automation across the different domains that are required to provide a new application or service. The platform should bring together the expertise of each team, allow them to use the right tools for their job, and harmonize every team’s work to provide true end-to-end, multi-domain automation that saves time and money while bringing IT into the automation journey without having to retrain or rip and replace.

Expand Automation Participation and Enable Automation for All

At Itential, we understand the multi-domain dilemma and the problems that networking teams have struggled with in trying to automate their work. In fact, that’s a huge reason we created the Itential Automation Platform. We have built our platform in a way that can help networking teams get started with their first steps by integrating with the tools and systems they already use, and providing open source automations in our platform for the most common use cases.

Itential’s platform is built to enable and encourage participation from many teams in your organization, with each team creating and publishing their own automations, leveraging the right skill for the right task. From these many automations, new end-to-end multi-domain automations can be made available through our Automation Catalog to quickly onboard a new application or service.

  • Easy Onramp for Non-Developer – Invite IT, security and NetOps teams to streamline business processes.
  • Capture Network Tribal Knowledge – Leverage traditional network automation & management practices (Scripts, CLI) for re-use across organization.
  • Integrate DevOps Principles – Augment network automations with CI/CD pipelines and API Services.
  • Enable Cloud Architect Participation – Real-time feedback and control of cloud-based applications and infrastructure critical to modern networks.

At Itential, we are committed to building the Automation Platform that your entire organization can stand upon starting from your first step and every step along the entire journey that is network automation.

If you want to learn more about how you can expand automation participation and enable automation for all, check out our on-demand webinar, “Democratizing Network Automation Through Low-Code” to get an in depth look into how the Itential Automation Platform bridges the skills gap to accelerate network automation within your organization.

blue box with a computer
Rich Martin

Senior Technical Marketing Engineer ‐ Itential

Rich Martin is a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer at Itential. Previously, Rich has worked at several networking vendors as a both a Pre-Sales Systems Engineer and Systems Engineering Manager but started his career with a background in software development and Linux. He has a passion for automation in the networking domain, and at Itential he helps networking teams to get started quickly and move forward successfully on their network automation journey.

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