what is network automation? what is network automation?

What is Network Automation? A 5-Way Free Guide

Organizations boost agility, scalability, and security while lowering the risk of human error by automating various network-related tasks, including device provisioning, configuration updates, monitoring, and troubleshooting.

Also, modern network management is fundamentally based on network automation, enabling companies to respond more successfully to changing operational and technological needs.

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1. What is Network Automation? 

Network automation manages, configures, and runs computer networks more quickly and easily by utilizing software tools, scripts, and other technologies. Also, it seeks to increase productivity, lessen manual labor and repetitive jobs, and raise network infrastructure dependability overall. 

Modern IT telecommunications systems require network automation, which has many advantages, including:

1.1. Efficiency 

Routine network procedures like provisioning and configuration modification take less time and effort when automated. Besides, faster service delivery and troubleshooting result from this. 

1.2. Consistency 

Automation ensures that network configurations are uniform across all devices, lowering the possibility of configuration mistakes resulting in network failures or security flaws. 

1.3. Scalability 

Automation can help scale network operations when network infrastructures expand without proportionally growing the network operations personnel. 

1.4. Agility 

Network automation makes it possible to deliver new services or configurations more quickly and to react quickly to shifting business needs. 

1.5. Reduced Human Error 

Automation reduces the possibility of human error during repeated, difficult, or tiresome jobs. 

1.6. Compliance 

Automation helps firms comply with regulatory requirements by constantly enforcing network policies and compliance standards.

network automation
By Conny Schneider/Unsplash

Jamie Frew, an experienced CEO of Care Patron, offers insights on the challenges organizations face, particularly in the healthcare sector, when adopting network automation and strategies to address these effectively:

  • Integration with Legacy Systems: One of the main hurdles is integrating advanced network automation tools with legacy systems.

We addressed this by adopting a phased approach, starting with less critical functions and gradually scaling up, ensuring each step was compatible with our existing infrastructure.

  • Balancing Cybersecurity Needs: Cybersecurity becomes more complex yet crucial with network automation.

We tackled this by partnering with cybersecurity specialists to develop robust protocols and continuously monitor network activities, ensuring patient data security and compliance with healthcare regulations.

  • Managing Organizational Change: Implementing network automation requires a cultural shift within the organization.

 We focused on transparent communication and training programs to prepare our team for the transition, emphasizing the benefits of automation in improving efficiency and patient care.

  • Ensuring Compliance with Regulations: In healthcare [compliance with industry regulations] is paramount.

We worked closely with compliance consultants to ensure our network automation strategies adhered to all regulatory requirements, particularly regarding patient data privacy and security.

Adopting network automation is not just about technological upgradation; it’s about strategically aligning technology with organizational goals, Cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance to enhance overall efficiency and service quality.

Jamie Frew
Jamie Frew

2. Types of Network Automation 

2.1. Configuration Automation 

As part of configuration automation, the provisioning and management of network devices, such as routers, switches, and firewalls.

Also, it guarantees standardized device configuration, minimizing human error and accelerating the deployment of network services. 

2.2. Orchestration 

The goal of orchestration is to coordinate the installation of various network services and applications.

Moreover, it makes it possible to automate entire workflows, from creating virtual machines to setting up networking parts, ensuring that services are connected and operating as intended. 

2.3. Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

By separating the control plane from the data plane, SDN automates network control and management. Moreover, software-based network behavior adjustment enables administrators to more easily adapt to shifting traffic patterns and network requirements. 

2.4. Network Marketing and Analytics 

Automation for network management entails gathering and analyzing data from network devices to offer insights into the performance and security of networks. Moreover, automation tools can find anomalies, send out alerts, and even respond to network problems by taking corrective action. 

2.5. Security Automation 

Threat detection, incident response, and enforcing security policies are among the security tasks that security automation focuses on automating. Also, it enables organizations to react to security threats and vulnerabilities sooner. 

What is Network Automation?
By Jefferson Santos / Unsplash

2.6. Change Management 

Automating change management makes it easier to implement network changes. Moreover, some requirements are included in the change request workflows, approval processes, and testing. Also, it includes change request workflows.

2.7. Self-Service Portals 

Self-service portals provide intuitive interfaces that let end users, clients, or employees request and manage network services or resources. Besides, based on user input, automation provides services and fulfills these requests.  

3. Network Design for Network Automation 

3.1. Modularity and Scalability 

Networks should be designed with modularity, and logical divisions, such as VLANs, subnets, and security zones, should be created within the network. Besides, this makes it simpler to automate modifications or additions to particular network components without affecting the system as a whole. 

3.2. Standardization 

Ensure network devices, interfaces, and services have uniform configurations and naming practices. Nevertheless, this consistency made writing automation scripts or network-wide reusable templates simpler. 

3.3. Centralized Control 

For controlling the network’s policies and configurations, consider employing centralized controllers or orchestrators, such as SDN controllers. 

Network
By Google DeepMind/ Pexels

3.4. API Support 

Furthermore, make sure the application programming interfaces (APIs) for the network devices and services in the design are available. Moreover, automation tools can communicate programmatically with network hardware thanks to APIs.  

3.5. Segmentation and Security 

Implement security policies and network segmentation as part of the design. Moreover, this makes it possible for automation tools to monitor network traffic and enforce security policies successfully. 

3.6. Redundancy and High Availability in Network Automation

Include redundancy and high availability in the network design. Also, for maximal network stability, automation can be used to configure failover and load balancing. 

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3.7. Documentation 

They are updating and maintaining precise network documentation. Besides, this is essential for automation because automated processes depend on precise network information. 

3.8. Testing Environments

Before implementing automation scripts and modifications, try to develop a separate network environment for testing and validating them. Moreover, the problems that might affect the live network are avoided by doing this. 

3.9. Integration with IT Workflow

Moreover, ensure the design is easy to integrate with larger IT workflows and systems, like IT service management (ITSM) platforms. Similarly, integration of automation into the entire IT infrastructure should be seamless. 

3.10. Monitoring and Reporting 

Track the performance and overall health of the network by including monitoring and reporting tools in the design. Automatic responses to alerts and anomalies are also possible with automation. 

3.11. Training and Skill Development 

Also, spend money on network administrator and engineer training to help them gain the expertise needed for network automation. Moreover, being familiar with automation frameworks and scripting languages is crucial.

Adapting to the Automation Era: A GM’s Insights on Evolving Network Administrators

Gianluca Ferruggia, pioneering digital agency connections and growth strategies as the General Manager of DesignRush, offers insightful views on this matter:

“With automation, administrators will transition from manual configuration tasks towards understanding and leveraging APIs and scripts.

They will also increasingly take on oversight and strategic roles, as their superior understanding of the network ecosystem will prove vital in improving strategic decision-making.

[In terms of] the necessary skill set, administrators should focus on learning programming languages specific to automation, such as Python, YAML, or JSON.

[Equally essential will be] the knowledge of automation tools like Ansible, Puppet, or Chef. Understanding cloud platforms (AWS, Azure) and DevOps methodologies will [be beneficial as well].

To adequately prepare for these changes, professionals should seek training and development programs that offer pertinent certifications and incorporate practical exercises alongside theoretical learning.

Reskilling initiatives and continued education programs [offered by employers] are also very beneficial in this transition.”

Gianluca Ferruggia
Gianluca Ferruggia

4. Profiles in Network Automation

4.1. User Profiles 

Roles and permissions for people or groups interacting with the network automation system are specified in user profiles. Moreover, they control who can access particular network resources and who can take what actions. Also, user profiles assist in limiting the scope of network automation activities and controlling access. 

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4.2. Device Profiles

Each network device(such as routers, switches, and firewalls) has a profile containing specific information. These profiles contain information about the model, type, configuration templates, firmware versions, and network interfaces of the devices. Also, device profiles guide automation scripts and help guarantee reliable and uniform configurations across all devices. 

4.3. Service Profiles 

Service profiles define the characteristics of particular network services or applications. Besides, these profiles might contain information about service ports, QoS settings, and security policies. Also, to set up or alter services consistently, automation can refer to service profiles. 

5. Policies in Network Automation

5.1. Access Control Policies 

The person who has access to network automation tools and what actions they can take are determined by access control policies. However, these guidelines aid in limiting unauthorized access and the possibility of human error. Also, the automation system’s security and integrity must always be maintained through access control policies. 

apps
By Pixabay / Pexels

5.2. Configuration Policies 

The regulations and instructions for setting up the network devices are laid out in configuration policies. However, they specify ideal procedures and typical setups that automation scripts should adhere to. Also, these regulations ensure that device configurations are uniform and in line with the organization’s needs. 

5.3. Security Policies 

Security guidelines specify the protocols and safety precautions that must be in place to safeguard the network infrastructure. They cover topics like access controls, intrusion detection and prevention, firewall rules, and intrusion detection. Also, automation can implement these security policies to improve network security. 

5.4. Compliance Policies 

Network needs and standards, such as its own rules or market regulations, are outlined in compliance policies. Regular system audits using automation tools can check for policy adherence and launch corrective actions when violations are found. 

5.5. Change Management Policies 

The procedure for implementing modifications to the network is laid out in change management policies. However, workflows for requesting, approving, testing, and deploying changes are included in this. To minimize the risk of disruptions, automation may reduce the enforcement of these policies to handle changes. 

5.6. Quality of Services (QoS) Policies 

Different types of web traffic are prioritized and handled according to QoS policies. However, these rules can be automatically adjusted to change QoS places to ensure critical applications receive the necessary network resources. 

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By Erik Mclean / Unsplash

5.7. Monitoring and Reporting Policies

The standards for network monitoring and reporting are outlined in these policies. They outline what network metrics should be tracked and how reports should be produced. However, automation can set up monitoring software to follow these rules. As a result, network automation profiles and policies offer a well-organized framework for managing network resources, restricting access, and enforcing rules and standards.

However, they lessen the possibility of human error while improving the overall efficiency, security, and dependability of network activities. Automation systems use these profiles and policies as guidelines to carry out tasks and keep the network in a consistent and compliant state.

6. Vital Role of Network Automation 

In the final analysis, the adaptation of network automation is becoming increasingly vital for organizations aiming to preserve affordable and strong network conditions as technology continues to advance. Network automation allows businesses to respond quickly to shifting customer needs, improve security, and streamline network operations.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

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