What is Network Automation? – Definition, Types, Benefits and More
Network Automation Definition
Network Automation is a procedure in which software automatically configures, provision manages and tests network devices. The use of network automation is by companies and service providers, which improves efficiency and reduces human errors and also operational expenses.
The tools of network automation support functions that range from basic network allocation and device discovery to more complex workflows, such as network configuration management and virtual network resource provisioning.
It also plays a key role in software-defined networks, network virtualization, and network orchestration, allowing automatic provisioning of tenants and virtual network functions, such as virtual load balancing.
In summary, it automates any network resource controlled through the command-line interface (CLI) or an application programming interface (API).
Scripting-based network automation uses scripting and programming languages to execute tasks, ideally those with specific triggers and consistent procedures.
[Network automation] prevails inherited languages, such as Perl and Tcl, due to their familiarity. But, as networks become more complex, new open-source programming languages. Such as Python and Ruby, have gained popularity for their ease of use and flexibility.
Software-based network automation, often called intelligent network automation, coordinates through an administrative portal that eliminates the need to execute commands by hand.
These platforms usually provide templates for creating and executing tasks based on simple language policies.
It has three main benefits.
Improved efficiency: When automating functions on network devices, humans no longer have to perform time-consuming tasks.
Lower probability of human error: Manual tasks are prone to human errors, and when the stability of a company or network of service providers is at stake. The consequences of a miscalculation or incorrect entry can be significant. Setting up a task for automation means that it must only be entered correctly once.
Lower operational expenses: This benefit comes as a result of the two previous items. By eliminating specific manual tasks related to network device provisioning and network management, companies can operate with greater speed and agility.
For example, automatic provisioning can prevent a network engineer from having to travel to a new branch to establish network connectivity, allowing employees at that site to work faster.
Tools in Network automation
CLI is the most traditional vehicle to implement [network automation]. Although it is available for free, it is time tested and highly customizable, it requires proficiency in the CLI syntax.
A variety of open-source tools, including Ansible, Chef, and Puppet, offer [network automation] frameworks. These tools generally provide a library of common commands or workflows for an easy repeat.
Commercial [network automation] tools are also available. Most network infrastructure providers have developed software-based platforms that offer automation capabilities. Usually for their own products, through a specialized API.
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