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Network automation: what it is and how to do it

NetworkTigers discusses network automation best practices.

Managing the integration of applications is becoming difficult as companies continue to expand their operations into several virtual and physical locations to support a global workforce. Businesses are also trying to navigate complicated multi-cloud landscapes, as well as struggling with the need for increased performance and speed to transfer more information. 

This increasing network complexity affects enterprises while hindering growth. Fortunately, automation helps standardize your network structure as it allows you to automate difficult tasks in networking. Automation also helps you build a more reliable business network.

What is network automation?

Network automation is the process of using software to manage network services and resources. This process eliminates the manual and outdated processes involved in managing networks like logging into firewalls, switches, and routers to update configurations manually.

Network automation can help you test, operate, configure and deploy components in your network. You can use a software-defined network (SDN) to achieve network automation. An SDN makes controlling and automating the networks easy as it introduces network virtualization capabilities. 

How does network automation work?

Network automation helps in managing services and resources by allowing IT staff to scale, integrate and configure applications automatically. The IT staff can automate networks with programmable logic on devices’ command line interfaces (CLIs) to enable the nodes to perform automated actions such as bandwidth control and network filtering.

The IT administrator creates programmable scripts and logic using graphical UI, devices’ CLI, automation tools, or external systems to automate and control your network.  After that, the administrator executes the scripts using the API or CLI and manages all the devices within your network via a centralized control panel. 

Top 4 network automation tools

Automation tools can assist you in automating numerous everyday networking tasks like dynamic provisioning and inventory management, as well as predicting and analyzing bandwidth usage. You can also remotely control access ports and change configurations across your organization. Here are network automation tools to help you meet your enterprise’s requirements.

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager

Network Configuration Manager is user-friendly and easy to install. The tool features robust automated processes to manage medium and large networks. Its automation system enhances network reliability by allowing businesses to schedule automated backups, create standard configurations and disperse it to devices on the network.

This bulk capability allows users to perform quick adjustments, saving energy and time while minimizing human error. Network Configuration Manager logs device configuration and user activity to maintain compliance with regulations for switches and routers from Juniper, Cisco, Dell, and more.

This tool also issues email alerts when it detects changes in your network. You can also check for unauthorized changes, reverse those changes efficiently and troubleshoot problems. 

WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp Gold is a powerful tool for monitoring devices, applications, and networks from the Network Configuration Management add-on module with additional enhancement from one central dashboard. The tool queries the status of devices on your network via the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

WhatsUp Gold then tests all the operations while the Network Configuration Management add-on feature scans the configuration of devices. This process allows for the automation of network device monitoring as it logs active devices on the network into an inventory.

The system dashboard then creates standardized configurations for each category of model and device. It also identifies and flags any deviation from a certain set-up through email alerts.

ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager

This tool uses the script-based approach to centralized control and configuration backup. Designed to manage configurations for firewalls, routers, and switches, ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager backs up device settings as pictures, making it easy to implement automated or manual rollbacks after unexpected changes. 

The tool is ideal for large enterprises that want to manage compliance auditing, user activity tracking, and real-time network configuration. It also allows for remote configuration management using its iOS application.

ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager uses Configlets, templates that allow users to schedule and automate commands to enable SNMP or change passwords. The system sends out email alerts each time Configlets are executed.

GFI’s Exinda Network Orchestrator

GFI’s Exinda Network Orchestrator provides real-time network monitoring and gives you control over your network’s security, performance, and resources. This helps you improve the quality of your networking applications and services.

The tool has a user-friendly dashboard to help you identify performance issues and network use. You can also use GFI’s Exinda Network Orchestrator to orchestrate bandwidth scalability and usage to enhance application performance. 

How NetworkTigers can help

Network management is a crucial component of IT infrastructure that helps organizations avoid security issues, ensure high performance, and reduce disruptions. We can help your business lower maintenance and operational costs by automating crucial network processes. Ready to automate your network so that you improve your system’s efficiency? Contact us today to learn about your options for cost savings. 

Maclean Odiesa
Maclean Odiesa
Maclean is a tech freelance writer with 7+ years in content strategy and development. She is also a pillar pages specialist and SEO expert.

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Network automation: what it is and how to do it