Here at BackBox we talk about automation as if it’s the correct choice for everyone, without questioning why that might be. I mean, we get into features, and we’ve got the best backup solution, etc.
” … there’s a lot of network automation and infrastructure automation going on right now,” <— that’s from a Network World article on hot networking skills in late ’23.
By why would YOU automate. What are you doing today that would be better by infusing some automation, in particular the kind that aligns to the approach we take here (easy to start, designed to improve and grow over time, simple to maintain).
I think there are three reasons to automate:
- Gain process consistency
- Eliminate missing information in your decision process
- Improve performance and security
Let’s dive in.
Gain Process Consistency
Of all the administrative tasks your team is involved in, have a think about the variation in approaches by different team members (or different skill levels).
If you do something more than once, and there are different ways to accomplish the same thing, then there’s a best way to do something.
My wife gets on me about this a lot. I’m a process improvement savant. Anytime I start a conversation “it would have been better if only…” I’m probably digging myself a hole at home. (And yet, still, I can’t help myself.)
We see this in things like macros or shortcuts too. Do you have a flow for manipulating photos? Or posting to social media? Automate it with a Shortcut (Apple terminology).
Why do people do this? To make things easier. To make them more consistent. To lower the cognitive load, especially if it’s an infrequent process they’re automating.
Simply put, it makes their day-to-day better. Why wouldn’t we do this at work?
Do you have a way you think is best for backing up devices? For updating routing tables? For checking in to see how something in your network is configured? For troubleshooting specific types of problems?
Have you ever made a mistake in the past that you’d like to avoid int he future? Automate your process.
And, if you’re anything like me, once automated you’ll tweak and expand, then share.
Imagine taking the best practices you’ve developed and sharing with your team as the team expands. Imagine how efficient and productive that team would be.
Eliminate Missing Information
In the past, I worked in the application integration space. And it always killed me when an org had a piece of information about something they were doing, but didn’t have it when they needed it.
It’s a mundane example, but just the other day I was at the bank and they asked me for my phone number (not to help ID me). Why ask me… it’s right there in my file. Yet, it was simpler to ask me than to find it in their mess of a teller application.
Our networks know a lot about themselves. How many devices do we have? What version of software are they running? When are their SSL certs expiring? And so on.
Yet, most of the time, we manually track these bits of information… and that manual tracking will contain errors.
So when it’s important to know something exactly, like how many firewalls are exposed to the most recent CVE, there’s a scramble. Even though the network knows.
Gartner talks about a Network Source of Truth as being a key requirement for all automation initiatives… and yet the network itself should be the source of truth, accessed via automation.
Want to know the password length on all your devices? Or which devices still use admin/admin as credentials?
Just ask the network.
Improve Performance and Security
How do we keep our network healthy?
When we can move faster to adapt to change, to close security vulnerabilities, and do so while preventing errors and enforcing best practices… we’re going to have a better performing network.
And automation gets us all of those things (and more).
I mean, that kinda says it all.