Most of us have heard at least once that when done right, automating our company’s network can lead to great business outcomes: more agile network operations, better performance, reduced manual errors, or lower downtime for production maximization, to name a few.
However, many of us have still a lot of questions about the topic and the actual implications for our business and our teams. If this is your case, this article will help you shed some light on it.
Network automation refers to the process of automating configuration, management, testing, deployment, and operation of services through software. The purpose is to allow for more agile network management, improved network reliability, and enhanced consistency while improving network performance and command execution.
Let me make this clear: manual processes are subject to human error. ALWAYS. And more especially in those organizations where IT teams have to monitor a large number of devices.
Indeed, when teams are stretched thin it’s easy for people to make mistakes… no matter how good they are.
The problem is that those minor mistakes, like a typo or applying a change to the wrong device, can sometimes lead to major issues down the line: they can cause service errors, network configuration drift, and even downtime.
Now, the good news is that network automation will help your team mitigate these manual errors, leading to increased accuracy and a reduced risk of network failure.
To maintain optimal operational efficiency your network should adapt to your unique business demands. But then again, as your network infrastructure evolves and increases in complexity it is often challenging to keep a good operational pace.
Integrating scalable network automation adapted to your business’ needs allows for more dynamic networks and ensures your company can continue to grow and scale without compromising IT agility.
This is particularly important when having to run the same configuration change across hundreds of networks, or when looking for a concrete client across thousands of devices. In other words, automation helps you scale.
Failure to automate your network means more manual tasks will be needed to manage, maintain, monitor, and troubleshoot the system.
Automation reduces the number of manual, time-consuming tasks a Network Engineer has to run over and over again. As such, your company will experience simplified processes, increased efficiency, and faster operations.
This can help you increase business cost-efficiency while keeping your IT teams motivated as they will have more time to focus on more value-added processes. This takes us to the next benefit…
By eliminating repetitive tasks, automation frees up your team to focus on more strategic operations. This will allow the enterprise to stay proactive in exploiting newer opportunities for your business.
Moreover, this can help you attract new talent and keep your team. YES, really.
Freeing up your team’s time to run more interesting, challenging, and valuable will most likely keep them happy and motivated over time.
If you or your Network Engineers operate manually, then you will have limited time and resources to conduct frequent system management tasks. As a result, a few low-value tasks may get neglected, and end up causing you big trouble down the line.
Network automation helps you overcome this barrier as it reduces the drain on resources and time wastage.
You can easily program any system changes and update automatically, therefore, reducing instances of network failure and keeping your infrastructure up-to-date.
Network automation enables deeper system analysis to identify underlying problems, potential misconfiguration, or risk of non-compliance with internal standards.
Since you will improve network consistency due to improved configuration, your system will become more reliable and downtime will be limited.
This also allows for more reactivity and proactivity as you can easily audit your networks against golden rules and be alerted when non-compliant changes take place
Did you know that outages and breaches are often caused by system misconfiguration frequently due to human error while making manual changes?
According to a 2014 study by Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute!
Now, if automation can minimize outages, it can contribute to reducing unnecessary costs.
Not to forget, network automation helps reduce Operational Expenses – which represent a significant part of the overall network cost.
Now that you are all set on the biggest advantages Network Automation can bring to your business, you may be wondering where to start.
Well, depending on how you plan to automate your network, this can be an extremely easy or complex process.
Before automating, you should define the amount of effort needed to improve your network efficiency. Indeed, as you plan for network automation, the organization and implementing processes can get tricky!
We recommend starting by identifying the tasks that take up most of your staff’s time and effort. The aim is to reduce the number of repetitive tasks you and your team have to perform, and incorporate them into your automated network.
Also, consider defining the repetitive, low-value tasks in your enterprise to include in your automated network. Some of these repetitive and low-value tasks could include (but are not limited to):
When executed well, this practice should significantly create efficiency as your team will have more time to focus on the tasks that you cannot automate.
Indeed, the goal of network automation is to free up your staff to ensure they spend more time on complex tasks.
With limited staffing and resources, you want your teams to focus on the higher-value tasks. These are the tasks that could lead to major operational optimizations and promote innovative strategies and business improvement.
Nowadays, many vendors are opening their application programming interfaces for enterprises and technology partners to automate network infrastructures.
Application Programming Interfaces (more frequently known as APIs) allow for network automation and ease the work for network administrators.
For instance, as an enterprise, you can integrate APIs to improve command execution by enhancing network quality. APIs can feed your system with data that your network can utilize for quality service delivery.
Cisco Meraki is a great example of how vendors are using their APIs to empower their customers and partners.
Meraki has opened access to the Meraki Dashboard API so that organizations and technology partners can create automation workflows and tools. This move accelerates the use of the Dashboard, extracts data, and enables IT teams to do much more. Here are a few examples of how they do that.
This is really great, but the truth is that while an increasing number of businesses are willing to start automating their networks using APIs, many of them are hesitant to take the step as they don’t have enough programming expertise, or lack the resources to ensure the correct maintenance of the automated networks.
Thanks to the Cisco Meraki partner community, these companies can still benefit from the advantages of API-based automation by using off-the-shelf network automation tools, like Boundless Automation.
The perks of using an advanced platform like Boundless Automation are numerous, but here are the 3 most significant ones:
The simpler the network management, the easier for the enterprise to scale, and the faster it is to operate. Production maximization and resource optimization has never been easier.
Getting off-shelf network automation solutions is the best approach to reducing time-consuming and low-value tasks that are executed manually. This allows for more simplicity, better reliability, and faster time to market.
Automating your network infrastructures using Boundless Automation will enable your business to improve IT operations regardless of your team size or available resources.
Always aim to achieve exceptional network productivity by relying on excellent IT automation tools from Boundless Digital.
Get a deep understanding on how to automate low-value and redundant network operations using the Meraki APIs.