How to Avoid Common Network Automation Failures

by | October 15, 2019
How to Avoid Common Network Automation Failures

As organizations look to keep up with rapid growth, new technologies and complex workloads, IT departments are under constant pressure to ensure their networks meet these growing demands. Many IT professionals have either already started down the road of network automation or are still considering their first steps. Both groups face a long list of challenges toward establishing and maintaining an automated network that will meet business demands for change and innovation.

Whether you’re automating for the first time or are looking to strengthen your current efforts, there are lessons to be learned from other’s failures. In our latest eBook, “8 Reasons Network Automation Projects Fail & How to Avoid Them,” we take a deep dive into each challenge you may encounter. Here’s a sneak peek:

Not Laying the Infrastructure Foundation

Like any complicated endeavor, network automation will only be as successful as the foundation it is built upon. But scripted-based point solutions that are not built on a proper infrastructure do not address a long-term strategic goal for automation and severely limit the ability to automate end-to-end processes that span multiple domains. Build an automation infrastructure with the tools that allow you to improve speed as you stack on more automation use cases and integrate with more systems in the future.

Force-Fitting Existing Processes into Automation

When approaching network automation, people tend to think first about automating existing human-centric processes rather than rethinking their approach in the context of automation and computation. But, if your processes are not good to begin with, then automation will only make that bad process faster, it won’t yield a better result. That’s why you have to start your process with the end game in mind.

Confusing BPM with Network Automation

When you compare a BPM system with that of a network automation solution, it is clear that they both share similar features, however they are vastly different at their core. BPM was not built with the network in mind and designed with the sole intent of automating business-focused processes. In order to be successful, you must choose the right tool for the right job.

Choosing the Wrong Case

Automation is all about the use case and choosing use cases that are either too big or too small can leave your automation project DOA. Organizations often unknowingly pick an overly complex starting point or start too small due to fear of change. You must spend time prioritizing and developing the right use cases before you start automating to set yourself up for success.

Ignoring 80% of the Effort/Time/Cost in a Network Change

In most network automation efforts, the focus tends to be around automating the execution of CLI, when in reality, that only covers about 20% or less of the entire effort of the network activity from start to finish. Benefits are limited when you only focus on CLI replacement. That’s why you should look at automating your entire network change process from the first ask to the final live push.

Automating in Silos

When automation tools are used in silos, the result may be pockets of automation that do not work together even though they are all part of the same end-to-end process. Typically, there is no cross-domain/orchestration of automation opportunities across the organization and these efforts fall victim to the silos. This can be mitigated by bridging the gap between IT Ops and Network Engineering to ensure open collaboration and communication to create automation processes which are cross-functional rather than limited to department silos.

Failing to Invest in Automation Skills Development

A common assumption is that you can just assign a developer to the development of network automation with not network knowledge. But, finding a networking engineer who is a software developer is like finding a unicorn – there are only ~1,500 in the entire world. Don’t ask one to be the other. Instead, close the sills gap between IT and Networking by using a low-code solution.

Assuming You Can Build It Yourself

The build versus buy conversation is one that has been around for decades. Organizations assume it’s always faster and cheaper to build a network automation platform themselves but don’t realize the true cost and time until they’re too far into it. Do your research upfront and understand the true costs of building it yourself so your team can make an informed decision on the best route to achieve successful automation.

We all know network automation is hard. But, it doesn’t have to be. By utilizing best practices learned from other’s past failures, you can avoid these common pitfalls and find your happy path to successful network automation. Take a deeper dive into each reason in our eBook, “8 Reasons Network Automation Projects Fail & How to Avoid Them.”

Download the full eBook here.


Kristen Rachels

Kristen serves as Vice President of Marketing for Itential, leading their go-to-market strategy and execution to accelerate the adoption and expansion of the company’s products and services.

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