How to Shift from a Manual Maven to an Automation Hero

by | November 14, 2018
How to Shift from a Manual Maven to an Automation Hero

By definition, a maven is an expert or connoisseur of something. There are fashion mavens, sports mavens, and many of you reading this, including myself, are networking mavens. We have built our careers around knowing the inner workings of the network devices we manage. The CLI has been our friend for what seems like forever, and we relish the knowledge base that we have built, which makes us unique and valuable.

We have used this expertise to create scripts and templates that enable us to translate the network knowledge we have in our heads into repeatable steps and processes. It is not dynamic or flexible, but it does allow us to save our sanity (to some extent, at least) by doing those ultra-repetitive tasks we grow to hate with little to no thought. The reality, however, is that others can’t easily pick up those scripts and reuse them for even slightly different activities without having the same level of knowledge or understanding of the script creators. These scripts require modification if even the slightest detail changes.

In today’s world, we are all expected to do more with less. Not to mention, do it faster, cheaper and more efficiently than ever before. Merely being a network maven that can accomplish any feat placed before you with a few scripts and a CLI command here just won’t suffice anymore. In a world being rocked by the introduction of cloud, Network Function Virtualization (NFV), Software Defined Networking (SDN), constant security threats requiring ever-changing rules and remediation, 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s poised to exponentially increase the size and complexity of the network. The network has become the bottleneck to innovation and digital transformation, which means it’s time for networking pros to shift from manual mavens to automation heroes.

Over the last 10 years or so, we have seen technology attempt to mitigate the problem with  controllers and orchestrators or the attempts of OSS to automate the network and in most cases, fail. This has only resulted in creating a more complex and fractured landscape due to multi-vendor networks and separate siloed controllers and orchestrators for every use case a vendor presents such as SD-WAN, NFV, Network as a Service, Platform as a Service, and on and on. This chaos is the enemy, and a formidable one at that. So, how do we go about effecting change in the midst of chaos?

The good news is that all the expertise acquired over our careers is the catalyst for transformation. But, that knowledge alone isn’t enough and unfortunately, the technology complexity will only continue to increase as time goes by. We need to stop operating in a silo, closed off to IT and start being the change agents of network transformation. It is imperative that we shift from tools that are manual and error-prone, from hoarding network knowledge in human minds that operate in siloed groups functioning independently and move toward tools that democratize network management, leverage existing investments, while also supporting new technology and ultimately enabling true network programmability. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together aiming to achieve the same goal.

Itential’s low-code solution was purpose-built for the network. With built-in network intelligence, our solution enables both experienced network engineers and non-engineers alike to become networking heroes the world needs. Manual mavens will become capable of drastically increasing the amount of work that they can accomplish. This work can span multiple domains including cloud, security, physical networks, virtual networks and multiple vendor solutions supporting those domains, all within a single network intelligent workflow. What used to take multiple people, across multiple departments, swivel chairing between multiple tools to manage, can now be completed by a single user of Itential. Not only can more work be done by the same or fewer resources, but this work can be performed at a faster pace. When we remove the manual transitions between tools and departments, significant time is saved. One customer has been able to reduce the time to complete a major network upgrade from over a year, to only a few months. Another customer has found they can perform device upgrades 44 times faster using Itential than what was possible before, reducing the upgrade cycle from barely being able to be completed before the next software version is available to that cycle being completed within a few weeks.

In a time where the network is becoming increasingly dynamic and constantly changing, we need heroes to manage it effectively. Are you ready to shift from a manual maven to an automation hero? Watch our short video demo here to see Itential in action.

Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore currently serves as the Director of Network Automation Strategy at Itential where he has responsibility for managing the delivery of services to implement network automation for clients leveraging both Itential products and custom developed solutions.

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