Last month in my blog Journey to “Self-Healing” Enterprise Networks, we discussed reasons why IT process automation solutions for network domain has not fulfilled its promise. Today we will first reason of the two – “Need for out-of-the-box workflow templates for rapid development of network operation process automation for quick-wins”.

In today’s high performance distributed environment, network is vital to maintaining an efficient business. Efficient, scalable and stable network environment requires time and resources from the organization. Information Technology (IT) environments encompass multiple advanced network technologies that include security and wireless for borderless networks, video systems for unified communications, and storage and virtualization management for flexible deployments.

Significant time, effort, and expertise are required by network operations groups to support these complex networks. Added to this complexity are the demands from the business to support more devices, more crossover technologies, and more network services, each of which place an additional strain on the network service delivery infrastructure. Increasingly, network operations teams are asked to do more with less and hence, network operations teams spends large amount of time on routine setup, provisioning, repetitive maintenance procedures, housekeeping tasks, and rudimentary support procedures. Because most of these tasks are manually coordinated, configuration errors are responsible for a majority of problems in a typical network. Here, automation in network operations can surely create efficiency and leads to high return on investments.

Many IT automation solutions talk about workload automation, run-book automations, scripts based automation and complex process automation such as ITIL, change control, etc. without network domain knowledge integrated as part of the solution. Getting benefits from automation in network domain requires detail knowledge and interfaces in-built into the automation solution. Considering the first inhibitor – solution should come with pre-built IP; Cisco has articulated network operation automation deployment architecture (Figure 2 below) that can be implemented in the customer environment that comes with more than 90 plus detail workflows – ‘pre-canned’ templates – for various commonly performed tasks that can be customized with minimal changes for any customer environment and many adapters to industry standard solution out of box that have touch points and triggers that integrate with your data center systems, including different OS, legacy systems, integration with help desk, monitoring and management systems, etc.

 NOA Architecture

Today we reviewed a solution with pre-existing IP and interfaces in-built into the automation solution as an important solution for the first inhibitor. In my next blog, I would discuss steps to overcome second inhibitor – in-depth understanding of complex network implementations with domain knowledge of the Enterprise processes and industry best-practices for support.

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Parag Parekh

Data Center and Cloud Services

Advanced Services Product Management