Eric Stinson, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Juniper Networks

Talking Automation: Challenges of Integrating Automation Tools into Your Network

Network Automation
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The title slide is shown, with the headline: Challenges of Integrating Network Automation Tools Into Your Network … and how to avoid them! White text on a black background.

Talking Automation with Andy Lapteff, veteran network engineer

Andy Lapteff knows that accidents happen with configuration changes. But, he also knows how you can avoid costly configuration mistakes with the right automation platform. Here, he talks to Juniper’s Eric Stinson about the challenges of integrating automation tools into your network –– and the effective ways you can avoid them. 

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You’ll learn

  • Why you should not manually manage your configurations if you are using an automation platform

  • Why Andy says you should look at how your infrastructure is working before automating

  • Why Andy loves an intent-based model like Apstra –– and you should, too 

Who is this for?

Network Professionals Business Leaders


Eric Stinson Headshot
Eric Stinson
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Juniper Networks 

Guest speakers

Andy Lapteff Headshot
Andy Lapteff
Product Manager, Juniper Networks


0:00 [Music]

0:14 we talked about build your own

0:16 automation some of the some of the

0:17 challenges with it um you know we talked

0:20 about you know vendor

0:22 automation have you ever run into trying

0:25 to take

0:26 a vendor's automation and integrate that

0:29 with some build your own automation it's

0:31 not an answer to your specific question

0:32 but i think it's somewhat relevant so

0:35 in an environment i worked in

0:38 we had a vendor who had their own

0:40 automation platform

0:42 that we were not leveraging because when

0:44 that platform was stood up we were just

0:46 doing it like we always did you know

0:48 line by line it there are some

0:50 automation platforms that will allow you

0:52 to also be in the cli and do it manually

0:54 so that's what we were doing for a very

0:57 long time fast forward to

0:59 a business need comes up and something

1:01 has to be updated i know it's a security

1:02 thing or whatever like hey we have to

1:04 update this config line

1:06 in all the devices it could be an ntp

1:08 server it could be snmp you know

1:10 management type stuff that's going to be

1:11 a common setting in all of them so this

1:13 poor unsuspecting soul

1:15 went to this vendor's

1:17 automation platform did what he thought

1:19 he was supposed to do

1:20 put into this

1:22 platform the change he wanted to make

1:25 and that platform went out made that

1:26 change to every device

1:28 the problem was

1:30 that

1:31 because we were managing the configs

1:33 manually that platform all it knew about

1:36 the existing config was that they were

1:37 empty so when it looked and it said oh

1:40 well i have to add this one thing so it

1:42 went into the devices it wiped every

1:45 config out of thousands of switches

1:47 across multiple fabrics and only put in

1:49 this little management change that we

1:50 needed which caused a huge outage so

1:54 it's not the answer to your specific

1:56 question

1:57 where you're trying to integrate

1:59 you know uh open source automation to a

2:02 vendor's automation but i can tell you

2:03 that the simple act of

2:06 manually configuring and managing your

2:09 platform which is what we've been doing

2:11 forever

2:12 and then bringing an automation platform

2:14 in and not really understanding

2:18 the interplay of those two and you know

2:21 i mean now i know that you should not

2:23 manually

2:24 manage your configs if you're using an

2:26 automation platform because there will

2:27 be conflicts and a good automation

2:29 platform like an intent based one like

2:30 abstra will

2:32 look at the whatever you want to call

2:34 golden config but this is what should be

2:35 there and if it does a diff and it sees

2:38 things that it determines shouldn't be

2:40 there they go bye-bye

2:42 which is what happened in that example i

2:43 just gave you oh i see what should be

2:45 here because this is what the

2:46 intelligence knows about so i'm going to

2:48 wipe everything out that shouldn't be

2:49 there and you know that was i don't know

2:52 how common that is in the industry

2:54 but

2:54 you know one of the things with

2:55 automation that i've seen happen and is

2:58 a concern for older school guys like

3:00 myself is

3:02 you can do things very fast

3:04 which is great as long as you're not

3:06 breaking something

3:08 but you can break all the things really

3:10 fast with automation so

3:13 um i think it ties into a couple things

3:15 we're talking about challenges with

3:16 automation challenges with net ops

3:18 expectations of leadership is it easy

3:21 you know it's easy to say well we're

3:22 just going to buy into this vendor

3:23 automation solution and use it but you

3:26 have to look at how your environment is

3:28 working before that automation comes in

3:32 what's different about this automation

3:33 solution

3:35 is there a disconnect between those two

3:36 how do you rectify them and then you

3:38 have to get all of your people on board

3:40 this guy who used the automation

3:42 platform thinking he was doing the right

3:44 thing it was never communicated to him

3:46 that that could be a problem and that

3:48 the fabric had been managed manually all

3:50 this time he had no idea because in a

3:52 larger company people aren't talking you

3:54 know it's

3:55 so there's a lot there right if you're

3:57 going to bring in an automation platform

3:59 that's a vendor

4:01 you have to get it working you have to

4:02 get trained up on it you have to

4:03 understand how it relates to your

4:05 existing infrastructure you have to know

4:07 how to use it you have to know how to

4:08 back out if something weird happens and

4:11 i could tell you that outage that i just

4:12 mentioned it took way too long i mean it

4:15 took so long just to figure out what was

4:17 happening oh my god why did all the

4:18 fabric just disappear

4:20 in most of our data centers right and

4:23 what it wiped out was all the management

4:25 stuff so i don't think we could even get

4:26 in to like fix stuff so

4:30 you know that that's i mean automation's

4:32 great

4:33 but

4:34 you want to go fast

4:36 but you also want to ensure that you

4:37 understand

4:39 the platform you know hopefully the

4:41 platform is simple enough for the user

4:44 to not be able to blow up all your

4:45 fabric and all of your data centers

4:46 right and

4:48 the better solutions i've seen

4:50 they spell that all out it's very you

4:52 know and you know multiple migrations

4:54 like if somebody wants to go to a vendor

4:55 automation platform and they're

4:56 concerned well hey here's you know 300

4:59 fortune 500 companies that have done

5:01 this and they're kicking butt

5:03 you know it's hard to be the first guy

5:04 on the block like hey try this thing we

5:06 won't we won't break your stuff i swear

5:08 but you know products like appstr have a

5:12 track record of hey look at all these

5:13 huge global technical companies that

5:15 have gone to this it went well they

5:17 didn't blow up all their stuff and now

5:19 they're more agile

5:20 they're they're up time you know i've

5:21 seen statistics you know the the up

5:25 error uh what is it outages based on

5:27 configuration most outages i've seen i

5:30 mean yeah circuits go down but you plan

5:33 and you design networks to route around

5:35 physical failures and most outages i've

5:37 seen are the result of

5:40 configuration changes

5:43 that were incorrect we thought they were

5:45 correct they looked correct we lab them

5:46 we had meetings with all that you know

5:48 everybody signed off on it it was

5:49 reviewed but whoops

5:51 we put it in and it did something

5:52 strange

5:53 i love the intent based model because

5:55 you don't need to manually write a

5:57 config and hope that

5:59 the intent that you meant to write in

6:01 all those lines of code

6:03 gets interpreted by the platform and the

6:05 infrastructure as the same thing you can

6:07 just tell an intent-based system this is

6:09 what i want and it just abstracts all

6:11 that minutiae away and it goes and does

6:13 it the intelligence of the system like

6:14 oh you want a new whatever sure i'll go

6:18 do that as opposed to me who something

6:20 as simple as adding a vlan it's it's a

6:22 segment in layer two and networking

6:24 you if you you can add it in a way that

6:28 you wipe out all the existing vlans and

6:30 break all the connectivity that's

6:32 already in place you have to add it to

6:34 these interconnects called trunks and

6:36 if you forget to put switchboard add

6:38 trunk i forget what the command is but

6:40 this is the problem about like manual

6:41 stuff is if you forget this one command

6:44 it adds that and deletes everything that

6:47 already existed and every network

6:49 engineer has done that at one point we

6:51 need new connectivity in this domain

6:53 you add the new net connectivity and you

6:55 break everything else that was already

6:56 working right in an intent based model

7:00 you know like apps it's not going to do

7:01 that it's going to know oh nobody ever

7:04 wipes out all the existing connectivity

7:06 to add new

7:07 but you know again for me who might be

7:09 tired at three in the morning on my

7:10 third maintenance window of the week

7:12 maybe i got a baby at home and i'm not

7:14 sleeping good anyway i mean you know

7:16 accidents happen with config changes it

7:17 breaks stuff

7:19 and any kind of automation system that

7:21 can

7:22 reduce outages because of configuration

7:24 errors to me

7:26 i mean that's just solid gold like why

7:28 wouldn't you

7:29 do that right like you don't want to

7:31 break your stuff

7:32 so

7:33 use a platform that helps you not break

7:35 stuff it's again you can tell i'm not

7:37 trying to be like a company shill guy

7:39 here

7:40 but i think of all the pain that i've

7:42 caused in production

7:44 that could have been you know avoided

7:48 by using a really smart automation

7:50 platform

7:51 so right yeah and you kind of hit on a

7:54 on an interesting point there um

7:57 you know

7:58 fast is great and that's the that's

8:00 always the goal is we want to go fast we

8:02 want to go faster but if you take

8:04 automation whether it's automation you

8:06 build yourself whether it's automation

8:08 from a vendor that

8:09 you know is focused on the speed or even

8:12 if you're just you know trying to type

8:13 real fast right so do it in 23 hours

8:16 instead of 24.

8:18 you're bound to make mistakes you lose

8:20 the reliability so

8:22 having an automation tool that you know

8:25 also has that focus on reliability is

8:28 what's really going to allow you to go

8:30 fast um

8:31 you know there's a saying that the navy

8:33 seals have slow is smooth and smooth is

8:35 fast

8:36 right so you you you pay a little bit

8:39 more attention to exactly what you're

8:41 doing and make sure you're not making

8:43 mistakes which makes you smooth and as

8:45 long as you're smooth the whole

8:47 operation is going to go a lot faster

8:49 and and you know you're not going to

8:50 have to go back and redo it um you know

8:53 consequences a little more dire in their

8:55 circumstances

8:56 um but you know it's like you you get a

8:59 new automation tool you build some new

9:01 automation you just focus on this can

9:03 make it go really fast but if you don't

9:04 focus on making sure it's correct or the

9:07 tool doesn't have the backup to say oh

9:09 hold on stop take a break here we gotta

9:12 we got to make sure this is what you

9:13 really want to do that's when you run

9:15 into problems and it actually takes you

9:16 a lot longer than it would have

9:20 [Music]

9:25 you

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