What is Network Intelligence?

by | July 30, 2019
What is Network Intelligence?

Network Engineers know their networks inside and out and the CLI has been their main resource for configuring, troubleshooting, and maintaining networks. When the CLI couldn’t provide enough scale to meet the growth of network demands, network automation was born through bespoke ad-hoc scripts; but the demands for network expansion has continued to snowball past these traditional automation methods. As the backbone of business-critical applications, the networking space has been resistant to and slow to change. Over time this aversion has resulted in an accumulation of legacy systems built upon each other in a patchwork manner as well as years of knowledge siloes from the network engineers implementing these ad-hoc scripts.

The network automation ecosystem has continued to explode with domain-specific tools, software-driven technologies, modeling and scripting languages, and philosophies (I’m sure you’ve heard of NetDevOps or Network as Code). With such a complex and evolving landscape, it is no wonder why so many organizations are continuously working to define, implement, and maintain a network automation strategy. Current network automation strategies need network intelligence in order to stand a chance at keeping up with the pace of digital transformation.

Itential’s Automation Platform simplifies network automation and enables cross-collaboration across network engineering, software development, and DevOps through the concept of “Built-in Network Intelligence.” So what exactly is network intelligence, where does it fit into automating network operations and how can it help you on your overall automation journey?

Let’s Start With the What:

Itential’s network intelligence is the ability to consume, understand, and execute network specific tasks. This includes the automation of:

  • Deploying service models that span multiple network orchestrators and modeling languages (YANG, TOSCA, etc).
  • Executing configuration compliance and remediation of all devices regardless of role, vendor, or location generated from mismatched configurations between live and defined Golden Configuration standards
  • Device configuration backups across multi-domain networks irrespective of the orchestrator/controller technology.
  • Pre and Post checks that ensure network status by inspecting the operational state of live network devices. This replaces repetitive manual CLI commands with adaptable, repeatable command templates.
  • Dynamically accessing APIs from network/IT systems that seamlessly integrates and owns the bi-directional communication with these systems. This serves as the Network API to bridge your IT systems to network technologies that federates the data, processes and logic from your network ecosystem.

With over 300 out of the box built-in network intelligence features, Itential’s network intelligence extends beyond just posting API calls to external systems by being able to understand and translate network-specific standards that build upon each other to complete an end-to-end network automation. These network-specific standards include modeling languages such as YANG, Ansible YAML, and TOSCA. The power of modeling languages is their ability to abstract complexity away from the underlying network in order to execute network activities in a repeatable fashion. The problem is that these languages are not interoperable, nor do they address automation across ITSM and other network focused tools needed to build and execute network automations.

Enter network intelligence…

Where Does Network Intelligence Fit?

Itential’s built-in network intelligence spans various network domains from traditional physical networks to programmable and software-defined networks (cloud, ip services, data center, etc) and anything in between. Itential’s Automation Platform facilitates the intersection of these natively siloed verticals with a use case driven lens in a low-code manner, which enables more groups to participate in network automation and leave behind those knowledge siloes. With a network intelligent enabled platform, engineers can quickly build end-to-end operational automations without having to create custom scripts or manually swivel-chair between disparate systems to bridge that multi-domain language barrier.

How Can Network Intelligence Help Your Network Automation Journey?

Keeping up with the move toward a more programmable “modern network” is a difficult challenge that network automation strategies and initiatives have been seeking to address. Because network automation strategies and initiatives are not a new concept, it is easy for organizations to have acquired an amalgamation of network orchestrators, management tools, support systems, and ad-hoc scripts. Knowledge and expertise of the intricacies for each of the acquired toolsets is scattered across teams making it increasingly difficult to find a common ground to achieve end-to-end automations. Network Intelligence is a key piece to breaking down the knowledge silos that have been created and instead embrace and leverage this wide ecosystem.

It is unrealistic to expect an organization to be able to realize the true benefits of a successful network automation strategy when the Network, DevOps, and IT teams are speaking different languages. Engineers of all skill levels across these teams should be able to participate in building, executing, and maintaining network automations that reduce human errors, decrease cycle time and increase operational efficiencies.

Itential’s Network Intelligence lowers the barrier of entry and expedites the time required to build, execute, and maintain network automations. Itential’s Automation Platform has over 300 out of the box, built-in network intelligence features to help enable rapid automation. Using our workflow canvas, users can easily drag-and-drop these pre-built functions into automation workflows without deep network knowledge for interacting with the underlying network systems. Start enabling users to accelerate the automation of network changes and activities in a multi-domain end-to-end approach with Itential.

Idaliz Baez

Idaliz Baez is a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer at Itential and is responsible for bringing our products to market. She has over 5+ years of industry experience driving value across the IT stack and has presented at many technology conferences such as Dreamforce and API World.

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