The second question I often hear (after “what is automation?”) is “why automate?”
At first when I’d hear this, I found it confusing. In my mind automating things is better than doing them manually. But, that’s not necessarily conventional wisdom. Many people need “facts not feelings”.
Here’s are 10 reasons to automate network administration, broken up into three categories to align with north-star priorities of security, people, and uptime.
More secure networks
- Backups. When they’re automated, you know they happen, and happen in a way such that they can be easily and quickly restored. When you automate across vendors, you get a consistency that complies with your own policies, instead of trying to make each vendor’s backup solution comply as best they can. Finally, when they’re automated they can be chained with other automations, so you can be sure that any time you change a configuration you have before-and-after backups. Learn what makes BackBox backups more reliable than alternatives.
- OS Updates and Vulnerability Patching. I feel a bit like a broken network here, but most everyone knows that keeping devices up to date is the single most important thing administrators can do to keep them secure. But updating devices is hard. It’s time consuming, potentially disruptive to the business, and requires after-hours work. Automation solves for all three of these pains.
- Fewer errors. 13% of breaches happen because of configuration errors. Automation of repetitive tasks reduces manual errors and keeps networks more secure.
- Compliance. Security and compliance are often co-mingled. The security team comes up with a best practice configuration guide, devices start compliant, but over time drift. You can’t avoid configuration drift, but you can correct for it… with automation. With BackBox companies can also scan the network configurations looking for “compliance” violations as a way to get started building a compliance program. Or, administrators can use out of the box automations for CIS, PCI, NIST, and other compliance best practices as a way to get started.
Better use of people
- Eliminate repetitive manual work. Here’s a special secret about BackBox. We talk about being flexible, powerful… about not requiring scripting. What we really mean is that our customers use the same commands they would when interacting with devices, only they do it inside of BackBox. BackBox then automates those commands (automations) or command sequences (IntelliChecks) with tons of flexibility as to scheduling, logging, and notifications. We work the way your team works, and that leads to greater job satisfaction.
- Upskill. At the same time as working with BackBox the same way administrators work with devices directly, automation provides the opportunity for guardrails to be put on operations to upskill junior administrators without adding risk. These guardrails come in the form of logging, auditing, and video recording of sessions, as well as role-based automation permissioning.
- Do more with less. These days ‘more with less’ is a mantra in many organizations. We face increasing demands on network administrators but don’t have budgets to add people. BackBox backups in particular are “fire and forget”. Our automatons are so trustworthy people feel safe to simply know they’ll be there when needed. When administrators can trust automation to simply work, it’s like they’re doing more than one thing at the same time.
- Reduce manual errors. Losses from misconfigurations cost companies an average of 9% of annual revenue. That’s a mind-blowing number. Manual errors can be avoided by reducing manual operations through automation. An automation platform should also provide automated checks to help roll-back malformed changes to the network that cause issues.
- More compliant. There’s a reason compliance programs are put in place — companies know what works. They test the configs they want and ensure they work. The problem becomes that configurations drift and maybe drift so far they cause downtime. An automation platform helps keep your network compliant with the way you want your devices configured, and that helps they keep running without downtime.
- Fewer unintended consequences. Let’s face it. Backups are often time consuming. It’s just a small change, right? And we backed up last night, so that probably would work if things go sideways… An automation platform automates the annoying manual steps that administrators sometimes skip for convenience ensuring backups, pre- and post-checks, and network hygiene is all kept properly. No matter how inconvenient.