When implemented correctly, network automation can be a powerful tool. It can streamline and automate time-consuming processes, free up IT managers' time, boost an organization's agility and resilience and facilitate better data use and management.
But if a network automation and platform integration project is implemented poorly, the results can fall short of expectations.
The first of several network automation best practices is to automate only well-functioning processes. Automating bad processes will not make them better. They will still be bad processes, and if they are automated, they will be carried out without human intervention. And they can affect the network at scale. If an automated process that deploys changes to 100 devices is flawed, it can affect every device simultaneously.
Before beginning a network automation project, you should determine whether the processes you want to automate are fit for the purpose and already efficient. Ask yourself:
- Does the process achieve the intended outcome in the best way?
- Is the process performed consistently and concisely?
- Is the business ready for automation?
Consider your infrastructure, establish key product features and scope and develop a plan for each automation deployment. And you must ensure that outcomes are automated, too.
Though there are several network automation best practices, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You must account for your organization's skill set and long-term digitization goals. Depending on your goals and priorities, it might be more beneficial to automate certain processes and data points first. For example, if you are looking to enable better platform integration and network orchestration while also democratizing data, it might be best to start with application-aware software, which can reroute data through the correct path depending on how critical it is.
Similarly, network automation best practices dictate that your business should not reinvent data usage. Focus instead on using the right data sources in the right way to achieve the best outcomes.