How to outsmart an emergency with Network Automation

The old business adage  “The show must go on” is probably familiar and is definitely relatable during these uncertain times.

We are all reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has never been more critical for businesses to revisit continuity plans and network services capacity. Organizations need to figure out how to go about their daily activities in this new environment and, eventually, how to run the business. What sits in the middle of this discussion today, more than ever, is the network that powers the business and the way it is managed to offer connectivity and supporting users on a highly distributed basis.

Given nearly the entire world is working remotely now, the pressure on the networks and thus the network operators are immense. The surge in the VPN traffic, increasing security risks in the form of cyberattacks and phishing scams, and supporting normal business operations and ongoing projects is challenging for IT staff. They are certainly missing the rendezvous with the network infrastructure during some of the network operations,  but what is even more disturbing is the lack of robust tools to manage them. Managing multiple vendors, their respective method-of-procedures, managing various tools including siloed monitoring tools inviting correlation hassles, are some of the many pegging issues the network operators handle daily.

We are at a stage where the existing manual or half-baked processes have much more impact on the businesses if not done efficiently. Today, there is a need for networks to be always on and operate at higher-than-normal efficiency levels given mission-critical services such as first responder networks, hospitals, government agencies, global supply chains, and the news media. To meet this growing demand, network operators should plan and act swiftly using network automation capabilities to maintain service continuity.

The following are some of the network activity examples supported by low-code automation and monitoring capabilities that are tied to the pandemic and emergency plan effort:

  1. Ensuring VPN performance through stress testing, security policy review, and compliance through audits,
  2. Proactively managing complex MOPs such as breaking down software upgrades into smaller tasks and automating them one at a time using predefined workflows to improve agility,
  3. Enabling zero-touch provisioning to onboard new sets of devices thus maintaining configuration standards,
  4. Ensuring remote monitoring of network operations and applications through intuitive dashboards to pinpoint usage trends and identify issues before they occur,
  5. Enabling streaming telemetry on critical infrastructure to have real-time visibility and insights into the network,
  6. Enabling closed-loop automation by setting up alerting and corresponding remedial workflow action that can correlate multiple alerts so that network teams can focus on real issues plaguing the network,
  7. Analyzing branch location traffic and s, re-prioritizing maintenance or upgrade activities on remote network infrastructure,
  8. Reassessing data traffic priorities to optimize capacity and utilization

Network operators handling critical businesses are trained to anticipate emergencies, but the existing pandemic situation is a wildcard in the mix. Organizations are going to refine their strategies and procedures to handle future pandemic situations to ensure business continuity. The foundation of this strategy will revolve around a practical network automation framework that offers both low-code and closed-loop automation that satisfies developers and operators alike. There will also be a renewed focus on AI & ML use cases that may potentially help in such situations.

Network teams deserve special recognition for their monumental efforts to support business continuity during these trying times. These ninjas, aptly named, are the unsung heroes behind the scenes. They have delivered several times before, during many emergencies such as hurricanes and floods across the globe, and they will do it again. The show will definitely go on…

Author's Bio

Dilip Krishna S

Dilip Krishna S

Product Line Manager, Anuta Networks
Dilip Krishna S is a Product Line Manager at Anuta Networks where he is responsible for their product ATOM which provides Assurance, Telemetry and Orchestration of Multi-Vendor networks. Dilip has 14 years of experience in Pre-Sales and Product Marketing across network automation and mobility portfolios. In his previous outings, he was worked with Cisco Systems and Tier-1 service providers in India.