How to Achieve End-to-End Automation for SD-WAN Deployments

May 15, 2020 | Rich Martin
How to Achieve End-to-End Automation for SD-WAN Deployments

One of the big benefits of SD-WAN is the ability to very quickly and easily onboard branch offices. However, one of the insights we’ve learned from working with our customers on their automation journey is that there’s much more activity and interaction happening outside of the implementation and activation of the SD-WAN branch. An SD-WAN solution can help automate the actual deployment, but the opportunity to automate the interactions outside of the deployment along with it will provide the greatest automation benefits.

The typical SD-WAN branch deployment starts from a planning and scheduling group, logging tickets into ITSM systems, then to a design and preparation group where you may have to pull subnet information from an IPAM device, then to the actual implementation team and possibly another team for verification and closure of the ticket. Even when a single team is responsible for many of these steps, there’s a significant amount of time involved in “swivel chairing” between different systems and communicating with colleagues. Most SD-WAN projects are not installing just a few sites– they are deploying hundreds or perhaps thousands of remote sites. The amount of time burned in these end-to-end processes adds up quickly – days turns into months or years to successfully rollout SD-WAN deployment from start to finish.

It is true that you can save a tremendous amount of time by automating just the SD-WAN component of turning up a branch office, but by neglecting to look at automating the end-to-end process, you’re looking at a loss of over 3,000 hours and over 216,360 dollars.

What is needed is a management plane solution that can operate within the multiple systems and controllers within the networking domain, but can also integrate and work with the systems outside of the networking domain. That’s exactly what Itential does. Itential is a multi-domain network automation platform for automating network management – whether it’s physical networks, virtual networks, or cloud native network constructs. Our platform is purpose-built to automate the largest, diverse, and most complex networks across the globe.

The Importance of Integration

What makes Itential unique compared to other network automation solutions is that we created a management plane solution with an API first approach that leverages investments in the existing tools and systems that you already have in place. In the case of SD-WAN networking, many organizations have deployed an SD-WAN controller from their vendor of choice – VeloCloud, Versa, Meraki, SilverPeak, etc. Itential can integrate with any these controllers or orchestrators via our freely available adapter library, and operates at the highest layer possible to orchestrate automations across your entire ecosystem of northbound and southbound systems.

Recently, we participated in the ONUG Digital Live event where we presented a live demo of our end-to-end multi-domain automation capabilities for SD-WAN branch management. Here is a brief overview of the automated workflow:

  • Automatically open an ITSM change ticket request in ServiceNow
  • Automatically request to pull in the up to date tracking information on the physical device being shipped through FedEx
  • Automatically request IP subnet information from NetBox IPAM System
  • Automatically send notification of the change and start change request
  • Automatically send a Slack message or email with up to date information and notify resources
  • Perform pre-check, device provisioning and post-check policies through the SDN controller
  • Automatically communicate the applied changes through Outlook or Slack
  • Automatically close out the ITSM ticket through ServiceNow
SD-WAN ONUG Blog Image 3

As you can see, this workflow is truly a multi-domain approach to the automation of one specific SD-WAN use case. In the demo, you will see the pre-built automation that is available to our customers out of the box for accelerating automation. Once automations are designed and customized to connect to the customers’ environments through our Automation Studio, NetOps teams can publish those to our Automation Catalog, a self-service portal that enables team or a group, whether it’s networking or outside of networking to run these published automations.

Hopefully you’ve seen how the multi domain problem can be solved with an automation platform and one of the things that we pride ourselves on at Itential is the ability to very quickly help our customers simplify and accelerate these network automation tasks with our:

  • Freely available open source adapters for easy integration to any system
  • Ability to easily build your own adapter with our Adapter Builder
  • Library of available open source pre-built automations for top use cases such as software upgrade, SD-WAN branch management, golden configuration, DNS upgrades, etc.

Visit our Developer Hub to learn more.

Itential White Paper: Itential Automation Platform: Integration, Federation & Automation
Rich Martin

Director of Technical Marketing ‐ Itential

Rich Martin is the Director of Technical Marketing 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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