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Top Network Automation Use Cases to Maximize ROI

Top Network Automation Use Cases to Maximize ROI
November 18, 2020 • Marcus Rebelo, Director of Sales Engineering

Today, network automation has shifted from nice-to-have to must-have. Automating key NOC processes (ranging from simple to complex) offers a wide range of benefits. But don't take my word for it — the ROI numbers speak for themselves. Here are a few real-world customer success metrics to whet your appetite:

$15M Saved Annually in Operations Costs – In addition to saving big bucks with automation, this organization also achieved improved network uptime and faster incident resolution, all while reducing escalations and enhancing call center service delivery. Notably, this was accomplished by augmenting existing diagnostic systems, rather than ripping and replacing what was already in place.

750K Hours Saved – This customer’s support staff reduced the time spent on repetitive tasks and eliminated manual and time-consuming event resolution procedures with automation. This freed up staff to troubleshoot more complex issues and tackle new projects, and also enabled the network business to grow by 30% without adding additional headcount.

99.9% Faster Resolution of Incidents – This organization consolidated multiple call centers by leveraging automation, while simultaneously improving customer experience and reducing MTTR. Creating a common toolset paired with a robust knowledge base for troubleshooting enabled the network engineers to respond faster – in some cases, response times went from 6 minutes to 4 seconds.

So how do you achieve this ROI in your NOC? Here are our top recommendations!

Proactive Network Testing

Top Benefits: Increases performance, accelerates testing cycles, improves efficiency, enforces standardization

Bonus Points: Proactive testing identifies issues before they affect services or become visible to customers or end users

Real-World Example: Rolling out thousands of new cells on a telco network typically inundates the NOC with alarms related to specific types of issues, like voltage standing wave ratio or passive intermodulation (PIM). With automation, you can be more proactive and run diagnostics against thousands of cells on a per site basis, checking the status and health of each potential point of failure before releasing the cells into production. As a result, you can be way more confident when you flip the switch.

So, what's happening behind the scenes? In this example, Resolve ingests and parses data from individual sites and their associated cells and then executes a PIM test. A series of steps is executed, the output of which is visible in the automation dashboard with step-by-step detail. Resolve reaches out and connects with the element management systems, connects to the specific network elements, check loads, and compares power levels before and after the simulated loads. Executing all of those steps manually is very time consuming, but with automation they can run autonomously to offer a huge time savings while preventing outages and safeguarding performance.

Alarm Validation, Diagnostics, & Remediation

Top Benefits: Reduces MTTR, left-shifts workloads, and minimizes escalations

Bonus Points: End-to-end or zero-touch automation is truly possible — where the goal is to automate an entire process from start to finish, without any human intervention.

Real-World Example: We worked with a communication service provider to automate resolution of radio access network incidents. Automation resolves the ticket from start to finish – picking up the alarm, creating the ticket, executing all of the diagnostic, validation, and remediation steps, which are captured in detail in the work notes of the (closed) ticket. The end-to-end resolution process is automatically triggered the moment the initiating event is received. The Resolve dashboard offers easy access to drill into more detail to see exactly which actions were performed at each step.

Virtual Network Provisioning

Top Benefits: Speeds provisioning, eliminates hours of manual effort, and enforces policies and best practices

Bonus Points: Creates an audit trail of all actions and updates asset inventories and CMDBs

Real-World Example: Resolve has worked with a number of organizations to automate end-to-end virtual network provisioning. First, the process is kicked off by checking entitlements and ensuring the network engineer at the helm has proper permissions to perform provisioning. Next, a service request is automatically created to capture all information in a central location. Before provisioning starts, system information like the device name and IP address are verified and any potential errors or duplicates are flagged. The configuration template is also selected based on the environment and rulesets.

And, of course, Resolve automates the actual provisioning tasks. Once those are completed, post-deployment checks are executed to ensure everything tests correctly and post-deployment config tasks like updating inventories and CMDBs are executed. Finally, the service request is closed out and a complete audit trail is auto-appended to the ticket.

Network Configuration

Top Benefits: Enforces standard and secure configurations, reduces human error, and saves time by eliminating manual, repetitive tasks

Bonus Points: Integrates and synchronizes with service and change request systems

Real-World Example: When compiling and deploying new configurations by hand, there are lots of opportunities for human error. Manual steps typically include validating the proposed configuration, searching for the target node, expanding all the way down to the physical port, opening up the properties of that port, and checking various tabs and properties to ensure you don't inadvertently break anything.

With Resolve, you can standardize your operating procedures and automate the entire config rollout. Prebuilt automated processes validate the proposed configuration, compile the required configuration script, and deploy it to target node. The use of a standardized input form makes the process far more efficient and radically reduces the time to deploy the config and have a new service operational.

Resolve also integrates with your network inventory tool to enable network technicians to select items from dropdown boxes, eliminating service request rejections that occurred due to input errors.

Preventative Maintenance & Ongoing Performance Monitoring

Top Benefits: Manage more infrastructure with fewer resources, improve reliability, and reduce costs

Bonus Points: Mitigate risk and prevent outages by automating routine maintenance actions

Real-World Example: To ensure maximum uptime for redundant load balancer pairs, every few months admins are notified that a health check is in order. Without human intervention, Resolve picks up the alert and automatically initiates a “sanity reboot,” or a synchronized and sequenced reboot, of the load balancer pair to ensure that it doesn’t start to cause problems in the future.

Resolve performs all the diagnostics, synchronization between redundant pairs, restarts, synchronization from active standby and back again, and periodic synchronization status checks. Each of those steps is very time consuming when performed manually, with the entire process taking at least 45 minutes per load balancer pair, and we see many customers that need to perform at least 100 of these at any given time. With automation, you can regain that time for more innovative projects and keep your load balancer pairs up and running.

Ready to dive in? Watch guided demos of all of these uses cases and more in our on-demand Network Automation Tech Talk!

Marcus Rebelo

About the Author, Marcus Rebelo:

Marcus Rebelo serves as the director of sales engineering and product management at Resolve, where he works with the Fortune 1000, leading telcos, and global MSPs to design and implement creative IT automation solutions that enable more agile, efficient IT operations. With more than two decades of experience in networking, software, and hardware technologies, Marcus has deep expertise designing and architecting IT solutions that create strong foundations for innovation.

His love of technology started with his first Basic programming course in the early 1980s and since then he has held positions ranging from the service desk to complex service development across a wide variety of organizations including NTT Communications, IPsoft, BMC Software, Wipro, and Hewlett Packard. In his current role at Resolve, he has grown the sales engineering team to a global organization and worked with numerous customers on their journey to automation success. He frequently speaks at industry events on automation, digital transformation, and cybersecurity topics.

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