[Research] The Future State of Network Automation Initiatives, Barriers, Solutions & Skills

by | February 21, 2020
[Research] The Future State of Network Automation Initiatives, Barriers, Solutions & Skills

In a previous blog post, we uncovered some of the most interesting findings related to the current state of network automation from a recent research report from analyst firm, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) on, “Enterprise Network Automation for 2020 & Beyond.” The research revealed what enterprise peers are doing today with network automation and where your organization fits in the landscape. We discussed the top goals of network automation, the state of current efforts, top use cases and the importance of a network source of truth, now it’s time to focus on what this means for the future of network automation.

Enterprises are ready to start pushing the envelope by using advanced techniques and tools to automate both simple and complex network management. In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll break down some of the most interesting findings related to the future state of network automation so you can plan for 2020 and beyond.

Barriers to Network Automation

Before you can begin to plan your future strategy, it’s imperative to understand the business and cultural barriers that may prevent you from successfully implementing the right strategy. Here are the top 5:

It’s interesting that security risk is the top response, as security risk reduction is one of the top goals of automation. Culture being one of the biggest barriers is no surprise as one respondent stated:

“The problem is pushback from the old guard, who are used to doing things a certain way. This automation scares them a little bit.”

By knowing what you’re up against, it’ll be much easier to overcome these barriers and make successful progress on your future strategy.

Popular Network Automation Technologies

In the world of tool sprawl, it’s no surprise that most enterprises are not using a single off the shelf tool for network automation. Instead, it’s a collection of technologies, come commercial, some open source, some homegrown. In fact, the typical enterprise has two or three tools, excluding one-off scripts. There are five general categories of technology being used:

The most popular type of automation solution is a third-party software that can automate multiple vendors, with scripts and homegrown software being the least popular as these options are directly linked to mostly unsuccessful projects. 2020 will be all about ensuring your team has the right tools to execute your network automation projects.

All About APIs

Respondents made it very clear that network device APIs are critical to their network automation strategy. 52% of enterprises consider network device APIs to be critical and 44% consider APIs to be helpful, but not required. But what’s most interesting is the success rate of enterprises who leverage APIs.

That’s a strong correlation between use of network device APIs and successful network automation projects. With this, it’s evident that 2020 will be the year of APIs for network automation.

Network Automation Skills Gap

It’s glaringly obvious that network automation tends to expose skills gaps in the IT organization as only 3% of respondents claim their current skillset is sufficient.

One important thing to note from these findings is that the skills gap is one of the biggest problems facing enterprises as they look to strategically plan network automation in 2020. In order to run any successful project, organizations must figure out a way to bridge the gap and ensure their teams are properly equipped with the right tools and skills.

The Future of Network Automation

One thing is for sure, scripts won’t cut it anymore. The future of network automation lies in infrastructure as code or DevOps automation tools.

What’s Next?

Network automation is inevitable. Enterprises are doing their best to understand and implement new technologies aimed at helping drive initiatives forward. These findings are aimed to help equip your enterprise with the knowledge needed to set your network automation strategy for 2020 and beyond.

You can check out part 1 of the series featuring the current state findings here or download the full report from EMA Research, “Enterprise Network Automation for 2020 & Beyond.” Lastly, you can check out the infographic breaking down the highlights.

Download the full report here.

Infographic detailing the current and future state of network automation on a blue background.

Itential simplifies and automates the journey toward the Modern Network. Our Intelligent Network Automation solution bridges the gap between IT and networking teams, enabling users to easily build, execute and visualize Network Intelligent Workflows.

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