Gartner®, in its latest Market Guide for Network Automation Platforms released November 2023, followed the company’s track record of research that provides recommendations to industry leaders, showcases market trends, and shares next-level automation insights.
The market for network operations platforms extend beyond point network automation tools and legacy Network Configuration and Change Management (NCCM), Gartner said in its report, which defined network automation platforms as products that automate and orchestrate multiple vendors’ network functionality. They support a wide range of capabilities, such as provisioning, deprovisioning, orchestration, troubleshooting, operations, workflow, configuration management, event-drive automation, validation, and reporting.
As the Resolve Actions platform is built to automate across silos and environments with cross-domain coverage, it leads Network Operations (NetOps) to this top priority: getting beyond the walls and improving the overall level of automation.
Gartner’s research produced key findings, including that multivendor network automation platforms help organizations scale the level of network automation and create workflows that connect disparate automation tools, and that these platforms are best fit for the needs of the larger scale, and/or technologically advanced enterprises.
Why Do Network Automation Platforms Matter?
Thirty percent of enterprises will automate more than half their network activities by 2026, Gartner research determined, an increase from under 10 percent mid-2023.
Network automation platforms help organizations by directly interacting with network devices, other automation and orchestration tools, network management systems, and network services. It’s all part of organizations’ aims to increase efficiency, lower costs, reduce human error, and better comply with rules and regulations. Plus, as Gartner said, network automation platforms allow organizations to deploy network activities continuous integration and continuous delivery/continuous deployment (CI/CD) style, manage network activities across hundreds, thousands, or more devices in short amounts of time, respond to incidents and requests, and enable provisioning and troubleshooting of networks with very little human interaction.
The network automation platform market’s must-have capabilities, according to the Market Guide, include:
Core Network Automation: The ability to automate networking activities in “brownfield” and “greenfield” environments, across multiple vendors, as well as the ability to do so across multipole networking domains, such as a data center, public cloud, network security, and more.
Low-code Workflow: Creating ad hoc dynamic automation workflows that can incorporate logic based on inputs is a requirement, and it must be enabled via a low-code orchestration user interface (UI) canvas. This must-have includes the ability to ingest and manipulate data from other systems, like cloud management platforms, ITSM, logging services, among others.
Network Automation Platforms Don’t Equal Network Automation Tools
It’s important to note, along with the Market Guide, that there’s a distinct difference between network automation platforms and network automation tools. There are tons of tools, and Gartner found that most enterprises use at least three.
Network automation platforms, unlike tools, are multivendor, support multiple networking domains, support provisioning and Day 2 operations, include orchestration and workflows, offer low-code UI, and support event-driven automation in response to externally generate events.
Plus, the market for network automation platforms is in its early stages, with few vendors who meet the full set of standard requirements Gartner’s research laid out.
What’s Ahead for the Network Automation Platforms Market?
The need for even more network automation is on the rise, and looks to continue its climb. As such, Gartner said enterprises are increasing their use of CI-CD, agile, infrastructure as code (IaC), and Development Operations (DevOps) approaches.
The Market Guide predicts the network automation platforms market will make the following four shifts over the next year:
- The addition of NCCM product functionality so that it becomes a feature
- A continuous rise in delivering functionality via “as-a-service” models
- A widening spectrum of capabilities that include network source of truth (NSOT)
- A lessening distinction as a stand-alone discipline, so that these platforms become more intertwined with broader infrastructure automation tooling
Current Market Trends: Network Automation on the Rise
Enterprises are using network automation more and more, with its growth happening in a step-by-step fashion, which Gartner said is mainly driven by a heightened usage and deployment of network automation tools.
DIY Tools are a big driver of this trend, as the report stated, “Open-source network automation tools typically provide multivendor capabilities, and are a low-friction way to access tools and allow for community participation.”
With dozens of tools available, independent product and platform teams, and network operations teams in large organizations are commonly taking a DIY automation approach with a combination of tools. Though relatively easy to get started, a DIY automation tool approach can be hard to scale and sustain.
When it comes to NCCM, the report found network teams use it as a legacy tool to take care of processes like inventory, configuration archival, firmware management, patching, and change history of the network infrastructure. These tools are known for providing device-level management that’s based on configuration files.
On the other hand, “The usage of multiple tools creates fragmentation, or silos/islands of automation that make it difficult to automate and end-to-end service to their business owners,” Gartner said in the report. “For example, deploying a new application in a data center that is used by branch users often requires integrations across several platforms. This requires custom coding and integration beyond what most enterprises can reasonably achieve and scale. This limits how fast network teams can deliver to their business.”
Along with adding unnecessary complications, silos slow companies down when today, it’s important to deliver value quickly.
From Silos to Workflows: Automation for Better Incident Response
As discussed above, network automation platforms above are now focused on solving the growing problem of automation silos, which is why Resolve Actions can stitch together and integrate with hundreds of automations to fill the needs of enterprises today.
Network as Code: Makes it possible to apply IaC principles to network activities, including the use of automated pipeline with pre- and post-validation checks, and pre- and post-testing, which is heavily used in data centers and cloud environments
Day 2 Automation: Includes troubleshooting activities and workflows for incidents and tickets, as well as delivers automated troubleshooting and ties with ticketing systems
Driven by events, Day 2 automation allows for faster incident response and as a direct result, reduces toil and improves mean time to resolution (MTTR). IT teams today face a volume of incidents that’s too great to handle without automation, and the pressure to do more with less makes the challenge even harder. On top of that, customer experiences are paramount to compete in the marketplace. With expectations at a seemingly all-time high, Day 2 automation is critical for meeting the perfection customers want from their digital services.
Resolve Actions can help your organization unlock sustainable improvements in network automation, leading to greater, lasting results. For more information, request a demo.