By Keith Sinclair, Opmantek
Murphy's Law states: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." Equipment always breaks when you're on vacation, often when the on-call engineer is as far away as possible, and with little useful information from the network management software (NMS).
It's critical for a network to be available 100% of the time and always performing at 100%. Network management is a core component of IT infrastructure that is put in place to minimize disruptions, ensure high performance, and help businesses avoid security issues. Network architectures and networking products handle the brunt of the work, but management tools and technologies are essential for picking up the slack and allowing the shift from reactive to proactive strategies.
Network automation can automate repetitive tasks to improve efficiency and ensure consistency in network teams. Ultimately, automation will improve the meantime to resolve (MTTR) and drive down the total cost of ownership (TCO). Network automation enables staff to gain process and configuration agility while maintaining compliance standards. It will help simplify your network and lower maintenance costs.
Save Time And Money With Automation
According to Gartner, "The undisputed number one cause of network outages is human error." As humans, we all make mistakes, which is why businesses must have comprehensive automation in place. Automation can reduce the likelihood of issues being missed by ensuring consistency and reducing the need for tedious manual configuration. It also can save time, money and improve productivity. The following are four steps organizations can take to build a reliable and agile network through automation.
- Implement Operation Process Automation (OPA)
OPA is about getting the right systems in place to automate repetitive operational tasks to improve efficiency and ensure consistency in operations teams. OPA delivers process automation specifically to IT and network operations teams. As well as emulating actions that network engineers take within a network management system, OPA also can perform advanced maintenance tasks, assist in the interpretation of network data, and communicate effectively with other digital systems to categorize, resolve, and escalate potential network issues. Ultimately, OPA is about improving the MTTR and decreasing the cost of operations.
- Improve Configuration Management
When considering automation solutions to scale your business, a critical variable to consider is time saved through automation compared to the amount of time tasks take if performed manually. A significant amount of administration time is consumed managing configurations and firmware updates, which could be better spent on proactive tasks. Organizations looking to become more efficient should consider an automated network management tool that integrates configuration management to reduce the risk of human errors and enable easier implementation of network-wide changes. This concept is not new, and it is the fundamental basis of making impactful decisions on how your organization can scale.
- Single View Multi-Vendor Support
Most networks are composed of elements from multiple manufacturers. This can create challenges when overseeing the elements of each management system. A better, more efficient approach is to find and deploy management tools that offer true multi-vendor support. This will reduce the number of tools needed for day-to-day tasks and eliminate the need for learning and maintaining multiple management tools, which will improve operational responsiveness and efficiency.
- Policy-Based Management Systems
Many common network administration activities should be handled by the network management system automatically. These systems should not require repeated configuration but be configured through a policy that captures the business rules and ensures that devices are handled consistently. Automated device discovery and classification is another important aspect, automatically determining what the device is, what to monitor, and what type of alerts and events will be generated, all without human intervention.
Combining People And Process Automation
According to Forrester, 56% of global infrastructure technology decision makers have implemented/are implementing or are expanding/upgrading their implementation of automation software. It's important to note that automation does not mean the replacement of individuals. Instead, it can benefit IT workers by transferring routine and tedious elements of managing networks to machine learning models that can reduce the noise from the vast number of alerts and notifications. For organizations that are looking to scale, a combination of people and process automation will yield the best results.
About The Author
Keith Sinclair is the CTO at Opmantek and NMIS Founder. He has a history of designing and developing software and solutions for infrastructure management and operations, having designed and built systems for NetStar, Cisco, and many more. To learn more about Opmantek, please visit opmantek.com.