It’s easy to forget that Cisco ACI, the world’s leading software-defined networking (SDN) solution, was introduced all the way back in 2013. Abstracting underlying hardware from overarching configuration and management and making the network more application-aware were radical ideas at the time. And for many, it was too big of a leap from traditional, highly manual methods of network deployment and orchestration.
Skip forward nearly a decade, and automation has become a top priority for countless IT teams. Not only within their core networks, but also their compute and storage infrastructure as well as cloud and edge environments.
The swift rise of cloud models and DevOps practices certainly helped accelerate these trends, and operational philosophies, processes, and skillsets have evolved accordingly. But the network remains a critical, foundational enabler of IT automation and, in turn, business agility.
Great Southern Bank, for example, is using speed and agility to compete with Australia’s “big four” banking institutions. Network automation has been an essential driver, helping accelerate everything from service innovation and delivery to customer support and loan processing.
Speed and agility can’t come at the expense of security or assurance, of course, especially for a highly regulated financial institution. That’s why ACI – with validated designs, built-in automation, and simplified operations – was the best choice for Great Southern Bank.
But that’s not the only way to attain network automation.
Organizations wanting the highest levels of customization and control can build these capabilities from the ground up. For example, the University of Melbourne has established infrastructure-as-code with the combination of Nexus 9300 switches, Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller (formerly DCNM), and Ansible Tower.
While this type of “DIY” approach is slower and requires more resources than a prebuilt solution like ACI, it was perfect for a research-focused university that has a wide variety of users, high-performance computing needs, smart campus initiatives, and a culture of “learning-by-doing.”
As long as you work with trusted partners who can help you achieve your top priorities, there’s no right or wrong way when it comes to network automation. And no matter how you go about it, rest assured the technologies are mature, the resulting benefits are compelling, and industry leaders like Cisco and our ecosystem of partners are eager to help.