What is Network Automation?

I attended at a DevOps meetup a few weeks ago, where the presenter started with this line: “I assume you all know what DevOps is, so let’s get started to look at the challenges.” After about ten minutes, a small argument evolved and turned out everyone in the room had a different definition.

As I am keep talking about Network Automation, I think it’s time to explain what I mean by this term.

Network Automation [My definition]

….and now I am staring at the screen. Where shall I start?

Network Automation is common sense. It’s a culture and collaborative effort to operate networks in a way, which is in line with the origanization’s goals and mission. 

steps-388914_1920

It is a mindset, constantly challenging the status quo in order to work more efficiently. It’s a constant loop of failure and success, when after each iteration you end up in a better state compared to where you were before. Network Automation is creating and applying the tooling to accelerate business processes, helping the organization moving forward.

IT (Information Technology) has been looked at as cost in the past, Network Automation is the opposite. It’s the enabler.

Elements of Network Automation

It’s a very broad term and includes a lot of technical and non-technical aspects. The non-technical bit comes first: What are you trying to achieve? Then the technical details will describe How?

Network Automation
What is the goal?
How to get there?
Non-technical aspects
The people in the company must sit down and define where they want to get to. They need to be empowered to think outside the box and identify the tools that will allow them to move towards the vision.
Technical aspects
People must learn new skills and the company must support them by allowing them to take the time and provide them with training. The main core skills are:

  • Networks
  • Programming
  • Frameworks/Orchestration tools

The answer to ‘What is the goal?‘ will be different in every company. This automatically means the answer to ‘How to get there?” will also be different in each case. There is no cookbook or magic tick-list that one person can do as a ‘project’ and close in a year or two and say: “Yes! We implemented network automation.”

Pipelines

A pipeline is a way to group activities to match up a business goal. All parts are well defined and heavily relying on the tools covered by the technical aspect.

Conclusion

Tweet: Network Automation only works if everyone is on board. Please click to share and help to create a Movement!
It’s easier to define what Network Automation is not. Network Automation is not rocket science. It starts with asking with simple and fundamental questions and making sure that what we’re doing is in line with the bigger picture. It creates a work environment where the work is meaningful and fun. Networks and network configuration are not a value in themselves. They are only value if they are serving the users and the business well.

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