Business growth can create tension, stress and challenges to future success and productivity. One of the biggest challenges your business faces as it grows is increasing complexity in its IT network infrastructure. As your business grows, you add more users and devices to your network, and force the network to accommodate greater mobility.
However, with this greater complexity your network team and/or manager is left facing the challenge of creating a more efficient and responsive network. The solution is, in one word, automation.
What is Network Automation?
Network automation is a strategy where both physical and virtual devices within a network have their processes automated. These processes include configuration, management, testing, deployment and operations. The aim of network automation is to continuously strive toward greater network efficiency and functionality.
Network Automation Benefits
Network automation has the potential to provide numerous benefits to businesses of all sizes. Enterprises may implement network automation with the intention of improving efficiency, lowering operating expenses and reducing incidences of human error.
Holistically, network automation provides benefits in the areas of documentation and monitoring, change and configuration and compliance. Let's take a look at each of these categories in greater detail.
Documentation and Monitoring
With the aid of automation, your team can more effectively document and monitor the activity on your IT network. There is a lot that happens each day on your network, and it is easy for little (and sometimes big) things to fall through the cracks.
Standard procedures today include companies using a combination of manual processes and software programs to track activity. Ping sweeps, freeware scanning, spreadsheets and databases are commonly used tools, but these all require manual hours–which pull your team away from other IT priorities. Worse yet, when this approach is applied, the task of monitoring the network infrastructure is never done and there is a risk of the information being outdated, incorrect or incomplete.
Automation brings the power of cost-effective discovery and monitoring to your network.
Continuous monitoring offered through automation services can alert your network team when new devices are connected to the network, allow them to view each device and its connections (to the network and other devices), identify rogue devices and manage the domains accessed by devices based on type, vendor and location of the device.
Your network team will still have access to spreadsheets and databases, but now those databases will contain relevant data that is up to date and useful in monitoring the network.
Change and Configuration
Automation can also help your business avoid human errors that can have an effect on the rest of your network. Highly skilled IT professionals are required to make changes and set configurations without disrupting the network. Mistakes made can drastically (to devices, configurations, standards, etc.) impact the network and related components.
However, automating this process is possible–and you’ll also be able to save time by getting the job done with greater efficiency.
Change-and-configuration management can be automated to reduce the complexity of your IT network by detecting and tracking changes, collecting and archiving configuration data, simplifying configuration comparison and still allowing for user-based access controls.
Now your network team can perform tasks with a simple click of a mouse and empower less-experienced staff to handle change-and-configuration management, freeing up your experienced staff for other critical operations.
One of the biggest challenges created by network infrastructure complexity is security. The more complex your network becomes, the tougher it is to maintain security and compliance measures. Security breaches and its after effects are immense costs for any business.
Automation allows your network team to save time researching new standards for compliance by streamlining this process.
Automation programs allow your team to build rules, policies and templates into the network, while continuously checking for non-compliance and violations occurring on the network.
Additionally, you will receive real-time reports that alert administrators to violations, identify the root cause of problems, and even provide possible solutions to each incident of non-compliance. Automation can also offer oversight to access control lists and rules for routers, switches and firewalls.
If your business lacks the IT experience to implement and manage an automation program, a managed services provider can help. The IT professionals employed by a managed services company can help analyze your business network, identify potential problem areas and get an automation program operating that helps streamline your network and allows your IT staff to focus on critical business operations. Request a consultation with a specialist.