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Network Automation: It’s Not Optional

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Illustration showing network automation
Image: ipopba - stock.adobe.com

The scale and speed of cloud computing, coupled with the intensifying business competition, widespread working from home, and the rise of video meetings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic require the need for network agility. Today’s network must be more flexible than manual changes enable so they can quickly adapt to changing business needs.

Counter to good logic, many organizations will delay critical infrastructure projects like this. So, if you haven’t already started the process, now is a good time to adopt automation — and gain an early-mover advantage of agility. 

Adopting Automation
If you’re looking to get started with automation, be sure to join me online at Enterprise Connect Digital Conference & Expo 2020, for my session,  “A Step by Step Guide to Automating Your Network.” In this session, which airs on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 3:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. (and thereafter on demand), I’ll cover the steps that have worked for organizations that have successfully adopted network automation. 

Adopting automation is really more like a journey than it is a destination, to use an old cliché. Like any journey, it will take time.
 
The biggest hurdle will be cultural. Remember the transition from legacy PBX systems to IP telephony/VoIP? Moving  from tip and ring technology to packet-based IP technology required a major cultural shift for technicians. They faced a big learning curve, too. Calling mechanisms were distributed. The network itself could cause voice problems like one-way audio (typically a routing or firewall problem). Music on hold switched to an entirely different mechanism. The same transition is happening as network engineers switch from configuring a single box at a time to working with software-based control systems that can simultaneously configure many network devices.

During my session, you’ll also learn about defining requirements for an automation system. After culture, this is the most important step to get right, because it’s critical for determining which type of system to use. You’ll come away with an understanding of different requirements and how they influence the choice of commercial product or open-source package.

Next, I’ll tackle cost. I’ll discuss hidden costs of commercial products and open-source packages so you know how to create reasonable estimates. You might be surprised to find that a commercial product may actually be less expensive after everything is included.

In addition, I’ll touch on skills, training, and documentation.

Agile Wins the Competition
In the post-pandemic world, agile companies that are able to adapt readily will be the winners. We’ve already heard some CEOs and CFOs talk about continuing a work-from-home policy for some parts of their workforce. It doesn’t take much more effort to extend this to a work-from-anywhere paradigm.

You can add UC automation to the mix. As people move around, can they stay in touch with coworkers and customers in a productive manner? Do self-service portals exist? Are they secure? Automation is required to streamline the moves, adds, changes, deletions processes involved with maintaining a UC system. 

Is your organization, network, and UC system ready to support the transition? Bring your questions to this session and learn about how to be agile and adopt automation. You can register here; I hope to “see” you in August.
 

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