With the rapid digitalisation of so many business processes in recent years, networks are more complex and distributed than ever before. Most organisations have multiple network domains, from physical networks to Software-Defined networks (SD-WAN), so managing this complexity is time-consuming and often highly manual.
Couple this with Uptime Institute research that found over 70% of network outages are caused by human error, and it’s easy to see why network automation is such a hot topic.
More time for innovation
Due to the ever-growing complexity in modern environments, IT teams are consumed by alert noise and are so busy fire-fighting issues that the root cause of outages are often not addressed, leading to valuable resources being wasted on recurring problems. This hinders innovation and puts businesses at risk of prolonger system downtime and the financial and reputational costs this brings with it.
Network automation delivers the speed, efficiency and consistency required to protect against system downtime and enable talented IT professionals more time to fix the root cause of issues and innovate.
Before we delve into the benefits, let’s look at what network automation means.
Simplifying network automation
Network automation involves using software to automate tasks involved in the configuration, provisioning, managing, testing and deploying of network equipment. By automating many of the repetitive, manual tasks involved in network management, network availability is improved.
Any type of network can be automated, driving efficiency, reducing the risk of human error and reducing the costs of managing the network over time.
So, lets delve into some of these benefits that make network automation a no-brainer.
5 benefits of automating network management
- Reduce manual tasks. Tasks involved in network management are traditionally resource-heavy, repetitive and at risk of human error. Automating common manual tasks reduces the risk of error, improves speed, consistency and predictability, and increases productivity. This means improvements and new services can be released more quickly and IT Ops teams have more time to spend on more valuable tasks which drive growth.
- Standardise processes and increase consistency. Automation ensures consistency and standardised processes, which means that if you lose a key member of your team, you don’t lose the knowledge with them. The one watch-out here is to ensure that processes are standardised before applying automation so that bad processes aren’t simply automatated.
- Improve scaling. Automating processes increases the ability to scale your IT infrastructure at pace. It enables faster rollout of new services, updates and applications based on established processes. Network automation can also enable “load-bearing” updates and changes to be applied automatically, based on demand data. This avoids any impact on services when there is a surge in demand on the network.
- Increase resilience. Automating updates and improving consistency ensures optimal network performance is achieved. Unlike where manual processes are at risk of being delayed or overlooked by overloaded personnel, network automation ensures these tasks are undertaken as required.Automated network monitoring tools can also surface the root cause of issues far faster than a human might because of the speed with which technology can process vast quantities of data. Relieving this pressure on IT teams and giving them the information they need to resolve issues more quickly increases network resilience.
- Reduce risk. By removing the risk of human error and improving consistency when deploying and configuring network devices, the risk of system downtime is reduced. Remediation of common issues can be deployed without human intervention, preventing outages from occurring in the first place, and increasing the robustness of the network.
Network automation helps to simplify the complexity in IT infrastructures so that your network is more stable, scalable and resilient. It also frees IT teams from the heavy admin burden of network management, enabling them to spend more time on strategic tasks that will help drive the business forward.
Getting your strategy right
When planning a network automation strategy, identify quick wins and start with processes that will build the foundations for wider-scale automations. There is no need to attempt to boil the ocean! Proving the value of repeatable and scalable processes will increase buy-in from across the business and result in faster, better adoption in the long run.