What is Network Automation?
Network automation is the process of automating the planning, deployment, operations and optimization of networks and their services. At a basic level, network automation solutions transition the manual tasks and processes performed in each stage of the network lifecycle to software applications that are able to complete them repeatably and reliably.
What Problem Does Network Automation Solve?
With the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), advanced network automation solutions analyze meta-data and leverage model-driven network programmability to learn network behaviors, deliver predictive analysis, and provide recommendations to network operations teams. These advanced automation solutions can be configured to take remedial action autonomously, providing closed-loop remediation of network issues, at-times, even before they even occur. In doing so, network automation improves operational efficiency, reduces the potential for human error, increases network service availability, and delivers a better customer experience.
Today, network automation solutions can undertake a broad array of tasks, some of which include:
- Network planning and design, including scenario planning and inventory management
- Device testing and configuration verification
- Provisioning of deployed physical devices and services and the deployment and provisioning of virtual devices
- Collection of network data pertaining to devices, systems, software, network topology, traffic, and services in real-time
- Analysis of data, including AI and ML predictive analytics, which delivers insights into current and future network behavior
- Configuration compliance, which ensures that all the network devices and services are running as intended
- Updating software, including rollback of software if required
- Closed-loop remediation of network issues, including troubleshooting and repair of insidious gray failures
- Provide insight into reports, dashboards, alerts, and alarms
- Implementing security compliance
- Monitoring the network and its services to ensure alignment with SLAs and customer satisfaction guarantees
Benefits of Network Automation
As the shift to the cloud continues, enterprise customers and their applications will become increasingly dependent upon the network for success. Due to this shift, networks are expected to be highly reliable with minimum outages. For service providers, automation is a cornerstone strategy to increase network agility and reliability while controlling operational expenditures (OpEx) and capital expenditures (CapEx).
In automating their networks and services, organizations benefit from the following:
- Reduction in number of issues — By leveraging low-code and playbook powered workflows, and with the efficiency of closed-loop, intent based operations, common network issues are resolved spontaneously. The potential for manual process-related errors like configuration errors, typos and more are reduced.
- Lower costs — Because automation reduces the complexities of your underlying infrastructure, dramatically fewer person-hours are required for configuring, provisioning, and managing services and the network. By simplifying operations, consolidating network services, reducing floor space, and cycling underutilized devices off, you need fewer staff to troubleshoot and repair, and reap power savings.
- Increased Network Resiliency — By removing the need for manual interruption in case of an event, companies can offer and deliver a higher level of services with more consistency across branches and geographies.
- Reduction in Network Downtime — By removing the chance for human errors, companies can offer and deliver a higher level of services with more consistency across branches and geographies. For example, Juniper Networks’ Service Now is a remote, automated troubleshooting client that enables Juniper to detect quickly and proactively any problems in a customer’s network before they become aware of them.
- Increase strategic workforce — By automating repetitive tasks subject to human error, companies increase productivity, which helps drive business improvements and innovation. As a result, new job opportunities arise for the existing workforce.
- Greater insight and network control — Automation helps make IT operations more responsive to change through analytics. You gain more visibility into the network and understand precisely what is happening in your network with the ability to control and adapt as needed.
Juniper offers a portfolio of automation products and solutions that deliver end-to-end automation across all network domains. Supporting multi-vendor environments, these solutions can be fully integrated, optimized and customized into each network operator’s unique business and operations environment. Paragon Automation delivers on many use-cases across multiple solutions which are available to run on-premises or in the cloud as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering. Paragon Pathfinder and Paragon Planner simplify, optimize and automate the provisioning, management, and monitoring of Segment Routing and IP/MPLS flows across large networks. Paragon Active Assurance, actively test and monitoring physical, hybrid, and virtual networks, letting network operators verify that each provisioned service works when delivered and continues working throughout its lifetime. To monitor network components and provide actionable insights, Juniper offers Paragon Insights, which is a highly automated data collection and network analytics tool, leveraging ML algorithms and Junos Telemetry. Additional details regarding Juniper automation products and solutions can be found on our automation portfolio page.
Future of Network Automation
Looking ahead, networks of the future will be able to accomplish the following:
- AI and ML-driven networks that can learn the intent of network behaviors, deliver predictive analysis, and provide recommendations/remediations.
- Implement automatic service placement and service motion
- Use advanced probing technology to actively monitor service assurance and adjust traffic flows based on service requirements
- Provide specific upgrades based on configured services
- Operate autonomously, with active monitoring and reporting provided to network operators to ensure that network performance and behaviors remain aligned to business goals
The route forward toward an autonomous network relies on telemetry, automation, machine learning, and programming with declarative intent. This future network is called the Self-Driving Network™, an autonomous network that is predictive and adaptive to its environment.
To be effective, automation must break free of traditional silos to address all network infrastructure elements, teams, and operations support systems. Juniper Networks offers simplified network architectures as essential components for simplified overall IT operations. Designed with a flexible and open standards-based framework, Juniper Networks tools and strategies help network operators by enabling automation across the full operations lifecycle—from network provisioning to management to orchestration.