In a world where everyone across the enterprise requires the network, the Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) team has a lot on their plate. Business units, departments, and even individual employees often need to spin up new network resources in order to do their work, take advantage of new business opportunities, and focus on innovation.
As the gatekeepers of the network, it’s up to the I&O team to facilitate these connections. Many do so by using a “ClickOps” approach, which is a cheeky way to refer to clicking options to manually select the network resources that have been requested.
But as the network gets more complex, a manual ClickOps approach can be an impediment to business users who just want to get to work. Here’s how a ClickOps approach may be holding your business back.
The 2000s Way: The Era of ClickOps
ClickOps is closely associated with the 2000s thanks to the rise of software-defined networking solutions. Rather than mess around with hardware, network administrators could simply log into a web console to provision out resources.
However, each network resource still required its own web console. This meant that admins would have to log into each console, click through a series of screens and buttons to select what they needed, and then log out. A simple request requiring resources from different vendors meant logging into each console one at a time, clicking a bunch of buttons, and then logging into the next one to repeat the process.
And as you know, few requests are simple; provisioning out robust network resources for an entire department could include logging into dozens of consoles and selecting hundreds of options. Not only is this time-consuming and unscalable across the growing needs of the enterprise, but the process is prone to errors, with one wrong button clicked across hundreds of options often being the difference between success and failure.
Why not use one vendor, and with it one portal? A multi-vendor strategy gives I&O teams the opportunity to use the right tool for the job, allowing them to select the resource that offers the most efficiency, lowest cost, and highest performance depending on the exact task that needs to be accomplished, while equal-cost multi-path (ECMP) routing strategies allow networks to automatically send packets along the best path.
While a multi-vendor strategy delivers best-in-class functionality and greater resiliency, this requires the enterprise to either have one network engineer who is an expert in multiple technologies or an entire team of dedicated experts for each technology. Given today’s competitive talent markets and tight I&O budgets, neither approach is a viable option.
The 2023 Way: Network Automation
If a ClickOps approach sounds costly, time-consuming, and complex, that’s because it is. But with network automation, you can use APIs to connect and collect all your network technologies and processes into a single pane of glass.
This means that instead of logging into multiple consoles and clicking hundreds of buttons, you can log into one platform and click a few buttons to tell the platform what you want. The platform then does all the work of going into each system and “pushing” the buttons required to accomplish the task.
Network automation uses runbooks that are approved, tested, and well-documented by your SMEs so you know exactly what the automation is doing and why. By leveraging the expertise of your SMEs, you’ll have confidence that the automaton is doing its job correctly, freeing the SME to focus on other tasks.
And with network automation, you can ensure that all of your policy and governance requirements are addressed with every provisioning, config update, health check, and troubleshooting event, keeping your network compliant with internal and external regulations.
The time for I&O teams to make a change and adapt network automation is now. To learn more, download our latest eBook, Trapped In Time: 3 NetOps Practices to Modernize ASAP.