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What is Network Automation?

Now, networking is evolving! Increasing in size, quality, and complexity as a result of fast technological development. Due to this rising complexity and extended downtimes, network equipment may fail, which might have a negative financial impact on an organization's operations and overburden IT workers during remediation.

However, as every problem has a solution, Network Automation is a viable option in this case. Network Automation is not limited to automating the configuration, management, deployment, testing, and operation of physical and virtual network equipment. However, it assists IT infrastructure in coping with this increasing complexity.

Network automation is the practice of utilizing software to automate network and security provisioning and administration in order to maximize network efficiency and functionality on an ongoing basis. Network virtualization is frequently used in tandem with network automation.

Network Automation optimizes network services by automating every function and by controlling and managing repetitive activities automatically. And the most remarkable aspect is that network automation may be used on any sort of network. Hardware- and software-based solutions enable data centers, service providers, and organizations to increase productivity, reduce human error, and reduce operational expenditures, which is what every firm wants in addition to a reliable, scalable, and robust network.

What is Network Automation?

Figure 1. What is Network Automation?

What Problems Does Network Automation Solve?

Today's businesses need increased agility and swiftness in their IT operations. They want to seize a commercial edge by innovating with new technologies and responding swiftly to altering market trends. In order to support these bigger business objectives, IT teams are pursuing increased degrees of simplification and automation, as well as a more effective deployment of scarce resources.

The fact that enterprise networks are more complex to operate than ever before is a significant obstacle for many businesses in their quest for efficiency. Distributed workloads and IT resources have resulted in exceedingly complicated setups and limited visibility throughout the environment. To make matters worse, a command-line entry has typically been used for the majority of network management tasks. This has proven to be laborious, expensive, unnecessary inflexible, and error-prone.

According to industry studies, between 40 and 80 percent of network failures are caused by human error.

Obviously, network disruptions are a significant pain point in workplace networking, but there are others. Complex, difficult-to-manage networks impede company innovation, complicate crucial security enhancements, and increase expenses. This collection of problems has necessitated the search for alternatives.

Network Automation is the key solution to all the above-mentioned problems. Before we dive into the benefits of automation let's grasp what problems can be solved by network automation.

Currently, network automation systems may perform a variety of functions, including:

  • Network design and planning, including scenario planning and inventory administration.
  • Testing and setup verification of devices.
  • Provision of deployed physical devices and services as well as deployment and provisioning of virtual devices.
  • Real-time collection of network information on devices, systems, software, network architecture, traffic, and services.
  • Data analysis, including AI and ML-based predictive analytics, that provides insights into the current and future network activity.
  • Conformity of configuration guarantees that all network devices and services are operating as intended.
  • A software update, including software rollback if needed.
  • Closed-loop network problem resolution, including diagnosis and repair of subtle gray failures.
  • Reports, dashboards, alerts, and alarms should provide insight.
  • Implementing compliance security.
  • Monitoring the network and its services to verify SLA compliance and customer satisfaction promises.

What Are the Benefits of Network Automation?

The rising complexity of networks has made it harder for businesses to function without automation.

Using the most recent technologies, network automation is the process of automating various processes, such as configuring, provisioning, maintaining, and testing network equipment.

Networking firms and service providers automate their operations to boost productivity, reduce human error, and reduce operational expenses.

As activities such as network configuration, device provisioning, and network administration are automated, businesses may become more efficient and productive, and their networks become more scalable and reliable.

As stated below, network automation offers a variety of benefits.

1. Reduction in the Number of Issues

It is a bad idea to automate networks in order to cut the amount of personnel. Network automation requires human intervention. Using network automation to decrease the number of human mistakes, which are responsible for up to 80% of network failures, is a fantastic concept. Errors will be reduced and network performance will be maintained by automating repeated manual tasks.

The automation of a network substitutes human operations with predictable, repeatable network modifications. This increases IT productivity as you are free to concentrate on strategic possibilities that drive company expansion.

2. Lower Costs

One of the greatest advantages of network automation is reduced operating costs. By removing tiresome and manual operations with automated and managed infrastructures, you may not only enhance the capabilities of your network but also get a faster return on investment.

Network automation technologies will expedite the achievement of company objectives due to their increased efficiency. It will simplify procedures, minimize resources, and improve software for better work, resulting in cost savings for the business.

3. Increased Network Resiliency

Automation also helps to strengthen the network's resiliency. For a network to function properly, frequent upgrades and maintenance must be performed without interruption or error.

Due to the effort involved in manual optimization of network processes, one must be vigilant and monitor the entire process until it is completed successfully, whereas, with automation, all updates and changes are implemented on a regular basis without any failure, thereby increasing the network's resilience and performance.

In addition, network automation includes a variety of tools that make monitoring the network's functioning through simple. These technologies also notify the staff in advance of anticipated faults, allowing the staff to respond promptly and prevent network outages.

4. Reduction in Network Downtime

As digital transformation continues to disrupt corporate operations, society's dependence on dependable network connectivity increases. Still, the majority of enterprises continue to manually maintain their networks.

There are a variety of business difficulties generated by these manual procedures, including security concerns and the difficulty of rapidly deploying and expanding services. Typically, creating new subnets and assigning IP resources takes weeks or months. This is intolerable, especially considering that manual updates frequently entail errors that result in network failures.

As data and device growth begin to outpace IT skills, automating the network provides a number of benefits. Gartner discovered that enterprises that automate 70% of their network change processes minimize downtime by 50% and offer services 50% more quickly.

By eliminating the possibility of human mistakes, businesses may offer and deliver services of a higher quality and with more consistency across branches and regions.

5. Increase Strategic Workforce

By automating error-prone, repetitive operations, businesses may boost their efficiency, hence fostering corporate development and innovation. Consequently, new employment prospects appear for the current labor force.

Without automation, IT personnel must manually do all administration, maintenance, troubleshooting, and monitoring responsibilities. Network automation helps your team to focus on strategic initiatives that enhance productivity, find new possibilities, and promote business improvements and innovation by relieving IT of monotonous activities.

6. Greater Insight and Network Control

Through analytics, automation makes IT operations more responsive to change. You receive more network visibility and have the power to regulate and adjust your network as necessary.

Network automation gives access to extensive performance monitoring tools in order to identify performance concerns, resource use spikes, and network failures.

On a fundamental level, network data analysis helps you to discover and solve problems as well as forecast future ones. However, network automation enables the correlation of data from numerous sources, including routers, switches, event logs, configuration files, and mobile devices. This can offer a greater understanding of performance, usage, security, and resource allocation.

Future of Network Automation

For decades, network automation and the promise of lower costs and more efficiency have been the rallying cries of telecommunications operators. Specifically, the list of use cases includes the ability to automatically set up, add, delete, deploy, and retire services, as well as the plug-and-play of real and virtual devices. The last stages of digital transformation are now in sight for many operators, and the focus has shifted to future networks, which are fast and drastically altering the way networks are designed, run, and managed. 5G promotes the composition of future networks with heterogeneous hardware, software, services, and vertical applications. To adapt to these ever-evolving settings and innovations, telecommunication operators are moving their focus from automation to enhanced processing and expanded capabilities. Future network operators will require these new autonomous networks to be able to manage the complexity and dynamic of future network environments and to offer 5G services with agility and swiftness.

Operators have historically deployed "reactive automation," in which rule-based or "event condition action" methodologies are used to respond retrospectively to errors. Such methods are conducted automatically and may require human intervention. However, these pre-defined (semi-static) techniques frequently fail in dynamic situations, resulting in a deficient network experience since they do not address the issue at hand. This circumstance not only contradicts the objectives of 5G and future networks but also prevents the adoption of complicated applications and services. For future autonomous networks, "proactive automation" that operates with minimum human intervention, or "zero-touch automation," is necessary.

Towards the future, networks will be able to perform the following:

  • Networks powered by AI and ML can understand the purpose of network behavior, perform predictive analyses, and offer recommendations/remediations.
  • Implement automatic service placement and service motion.
  • Utilize sophisticated probing technologies to actively monitor service assurance and modify traffic flows in accordance with service needs.
  • Provide upgrades based on the configuration of the services.
  • Provide network operators with active monitoring and reporting to guarantee that network performance and behaviors stay aligned with corporate objectives while operating independently.
  • The path toward an autonomous network depends on telemetry, automation, machine learning, and declarative intent programming. This future network is referred to as the Self-Driving NetworkTM, a predictive and environment-adaptive autonomous network.

Automation must transcend conventional silos in order to handle all network infrastructure elements, teams, and operations support systems in order to be effective.