Top 5 Best Practices to Implement Network Automation
Network automation and the broader, rapidly evolving infrastructure-as-code approach to problem solving may appear intimidating. Even terrifying. Individuals and entire businesses alike are hesitant to adopt this new methodology.
However, automation has real value. It makes your network more agile, reduces human errors significantly, and gives machine intelligence a seat at the table. In today’s networking industry, infrastructure as code easily provides the highest return on investment.
The payoff for even starting on this journey is enormous. Why? Because all of the tools required to create these sophisticated automated solutions are free. However, they must be used correctly. As you begin or continue your automation journey, this article will discuss the five best network automation implementation practices.
Let’s dive in!
1.Device Locator – Determine the location of a network-connected device using its name, IP address, or MAC address. This is a common operational task, especially when a firewall detects malware on an endpoint and you need to locate it. You could divide this task into several steps. To begin, use the device name to determine the IP address of the device. After that, determine the subnet and map the IP address to a MAC address. Finally, locate the switch port to which the device is connected.
2.Application Connectivity Check – Examine the path that connects an endpoint to a specific application server, which may be load-balanced. Begin with simple tests such as pings from both the endpoint and the server, or as close to each as possible. Because performing these checks manually takes time, create an automation task that can run the tests quickly and produce results that are easy to read.
3.Network Infrastructure Peer Connectivity – Network mapping checks that every network infrastructure device, such as a router, switch, load balancer, firewall, and so on, is correctly connected to its neighbors. To keep things simple, this task will necessitate a small database that identifies each neighbouring network device and the interfaces that connect them. This task identifies areas where connectivity has failed or connections have been made to the incorrect interfaces. Begin with critical interfaces, such as EtherChannel groups, and progress to router-to-switch and switch-to-switch links.
4.Network Configuration Checks- Determine discrepancies between network configuration components and your configuration templates. Begin by comparing snippets of simple configuration, such as Network Time Protocol, Simple Network Automation Management Protocol, and admin logins. You can then progress to more complex configurations, such as the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). This automation should only report anomalies and make no changes.
5.Automate Password Resets –Password reset is a time-consuming but necessary task. Improve it by ensuring that new passwords adhere to your organization’s password policies. Implement a two-factor authentication mechanism if possible, validate user input carefully, and store passwords only in a secure identity repository.
The key to a successful network automation project and management is to keep an eye on tasks that consume a significant amount of time. Whether your network staff is wasting time manually creating status reports for upper management, performing simple moves/adds/changes, or dealing with the same troubleshooting tasks over and over, the goal should be to identify repetitive tasks and automate them.
Remember that your goal here is to create efficiencies that will allow your network team to focus on tasks that cannot be automated, such as designing complex next-generation network architectures. While automation will require new maintenance tasks for in-house staff, the time spent managing your automation processes should be significantly less than the time spent manually performing the functions.