RPA

10 must-have automations for a lean and efficient network.


Environments with clear operational strategies and structured frameworks inevitably experience a build-up of complexity in infrastructure and operations as businesses grow.

In order to ensure steady and reliable growth, it is crucial to optimise the IT functionThe IT backbone, which serves as the backbone to support all business applications and ensure service excellence across functions. The key to scaling IT to meet the demands of today's business landscape lies in automating operations.

Given an analysis carried out by the consulting firm Exceltic to more than 100 customers, IT departments have to operate at a faster pace than businesses. As modern networks expand, network capacity needs to be increased to accommodate this growth.

Exceltic through its agreement with Resolve.Ioa leading IT automation and remediation company, are collaborating to optimise IT functions and address the growing complexities of infrastructure and operations.

THE POWER OF AUTOMATION

  1. Increased speed of execution: Automation works at a much faster pace than humans, enabling 24/7 operations when combined with self-service and self-help IT capabilities.
  2. Reduction of operating costsAutomation is not only faster and more readily available, but also cheaper compared to the cost of human labour required for manual operations.
  3. Human capacity building: Automation, especially when combined with AI, improves human performance, minimises errors, reduces the need for manual intervention and provides greater flexibility and adaptability.
  4. Expansion of existing automations: Automation does not completely replace manual operations, but opens up opportunities for further improvements and creates new efficient ways of working.

Case Study 1: Device Provisioning

Device provisioning involves the configuration and distribution of IT equipment, an initial step in the lifecycle. Each device must function well, as others in the IT infrastructure depend on it. In an ideal world, the IT department acquires hardware, connects it and benefits from its seamless functionality. However, reality requires several steps to be completed before a device can be used. This includes physical and virtual hardware configuration, role assignment, security and auditing. Automation reduces time and achieves a "hands-off" model for provisioning, including periodic audits.

Case study 2: Incident response

IT incidents affect the infrastructure and the business. They are detected and classified using IT service management and monitoring tools. Lack of standardised procedures can affect customer experience and prolong problem resolution. IT SLAs require high availability. Network operations teams, such as NOCs, collaborate to identify the root cause and correct it, keeping the business informed. Automation streamlines incident response by reducing false positives, triaging and triggering appropriate responses. It ensures continuous reporting and involves operators in critical decisions.

Case study 3: Problem solving

Networks are becoming increasingly complex, with multiple locations and providers. The introduction of the cloud complicates manual maintenance. Troubleshooting network problems in a diverse environment requires managing large amounts of data, making it a laborious and error-prone task. Network administrators and SMEs are tasked with diagnosing and troubleshooting problems. Troubleshooting is time-consuming but essential to analyse the root cause, which can be caused by faulty cables, routing or incorrect IP address configuration. Automation can streamline this process by triggering from monitoring alerts, collecting and analysing data to identify discrepancies.

Case Study 4: Status Checks

Network engineers perform regular checks to ensure the performance and reliability of networks. These checks cover various components, such as physical infrastructure, firewalls, switches, access points and VPNs. The scheduled automation of health checks helps detect and address problems before they impact the business, reducing disruption. It also frees engineers from routine tasks, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks.

Case Study 5: Configuration Management

Network Configuration Management (NCM) is an end-to-end process that spans the lifecycle of devices. It includes discovery, inventory, backup, change monitoring, compliance, activity tracking and troubleshooting. Network operations teams handle these tasks as needed. Automation streamlines the entire lifecycle of network devices and configurations. It simplifies configuration, change management and compliance through automated critical functions such as backup scheduling, user activity tracking and automatically generated reports.

Case Study 6: Configuration Compliance

The term "network" encompasses physical devices, functions, protocols and CLI configurations, including cloud network infrastructure with native services. Network management is based on regulatory compliance to maintain optimal configurations and business performance. Traditionally, a configuration standard is established and compared to the current configuration, addressing any deviations reactively. This manual process involves multiple steps. Automation plays a key role in identifying deviations and comparing them with a "golden configuration". Due to its systematic nature, automation should take care of the process rather than relying on manual execution.

Use case #7: Patching/patch management

Patch management protects against vulnerabilities and risks by obtaining, verifying and installing patches. Neglecting it exposes devices to attacks. Keeping software up to date is crucial to minimise the risk of exploitation and breach.

Automation is essential in patch management to effectively defend against cybercrime. Automated software enables regular scans to be scheduled and patches to be applied automatically, preventing the exploitation of critical vulnerabilities with published exploit codes.

Case n°8: Upgrades

Upgrading the network infrastructure improves security, scalability and reliability, but requires significant manual effort. Automation is ideal for this process.

In addition to planning to minimise the impact on operations, meticulous execution is essential to quickly restore services. Network automation facilitates the deployment of new technologies, optimises architecture, reduces risk and shortens upgrade cycles. This translates into significant cost reductions by supporting new services and upgrading more devices in a maintenance window.

Case study 9: Orchestration

Network orchestration represents a more advanced level of network automation. It manages high-level sequences of interdependent tasks across multiple, diverse, multi-vendor systems.

Orchestration becomes necessary when moving beyond limited point-based automations. It helps to unite individual task-based automations into cohesive workflows, standardises and logs executions for auditing and compliance purposes, and executes workflows based on device states and configurations.

Case study 10: Rollback

The increase in devices and network services, coupled with frequent changes, makes manual processes impractical and error-prone. This delays the deployment of new applications and troubleshooting. A copy-and-paste approach introduces errors and prolongs the process.

Configuration rollback automation allows engineers to quickly restore the last correct configuration. In cases of unauthorised upgrades or changes, automation speeds recovery by quickly identifying and deploying the correct previous configuration. Secure access to a platform with the right tools and the right access to devices or network services is required.

In conclusion, in a rapidly evolving business landscape, automation is crucial to optimise IT functions and address the growing complexities of infrastructure and operations. In this way, organisations can improve operational efficiency, increase network performance and reduce the risk of errors and disruptions.

If you want to learn more about automation, don't miss out on our Free webinar on 7 June. Increased speed, reduced costs, expanded human capabilities, the opportunity for new breakthroughs and much more. Discover all the benefits of automation with Exceltic + Resolve.

Embracing automation enables companies to meet the demands of today's rapidly changing environment and to thrive reliably and consistently.

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