05 May 2022
Uncovering the benefits of Network Automation and Scripting
Organisations, service providers, and data centres can choose to employ software and hardware-based solutions to automate their networks, lower operational costs, reduce human error, and increase productivity.
It can take longer to provide and implement changes in large IT environments, and each component necessitates specialist knowledge. IT teams can use automation technology to provide self-service and allocate pre-approved resources and settings with minimal manual intervention.
The network will become increasingly important as cloud migration progresses. Cloud transition should make networks more stable and less prone to interruptions. Automation is critical for improving network agility and reliability while lowering operating and capital costs.
Network automation enables regular maintenance, reducing the likelihood of network failure and downtime. Automating the network makes configuration deployment faster, more scalable, and more efficient.
A Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, Aruba is a leading provider of next-generation wireless and wired networking solutions that help organisations capitalise on business opportunities at the Edge. Aruba provides cloud and on-premise software for modern network deployment, monitoring, and orchestration. Aruba network automation solutions assist businesses in reducing human error and shortening deployment times. Each network automation scenario can be tailored to the demands and environment of the business.
Aruba network automation and scripting basics
Aruba products combine network administration, analytics powered by artificial intelligence, and IoT device security for wired, wireless, and SD-WAN networks. For example, in Aruba Central, these features are bundled into a single, easy-to-use platform that includes Network Operation and ClearPass Device Insight applications.
Network Operations enable unified network administration and real-time diagnostics and live monitoring, resulting in simplified and rapid issue response.
ClearPass Device Insight provides a single pane of glass for device visibility with automated device discovery, fingerprinting, and identification powered by machine learning (ML).
Aruba's extensibility features enable network task automation and scripting. The REST API (application programming interface) allows client applications to connect with Aruba services for setup, on-demand polling, and data monitoring through HTTP requests. The Streaming API is used to subscribe to specific topics, receive statistics, and track state changes over a Secure WebSocket (WSS). Webhooks allow the integration of third-party apps and the execution of actions in response to real-time alerts. Using Aruba Central, users can connect Webhooks with third-party services like ServiceNow, Zapier, and IFTTT.
Aruba provides a Python SDK (software development kit) for purposes of network automation. Python is a widely used, general-purpose, high-level programming language. It is popular in the networking world because of its strong vendor support and low barrier to entry for automating and scripting.
Ansible is another tool in Aruba’s automation, offering a free and open-source automation framework created and maintained by Ansible. Ansible is an application deployment orchestration and configuration management tool that automates provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment.
Benefits of network automation
Networks are prone to delays because of their intricate nature, heavy design, and manual operation. When applications and updates are being pushed out rapidly, manually maintained networks present a barrier to change deployment, slowing down overall business operations.
Automation allows businesses to have a more fluid and adaptable networking infrastructure. It improves network security by removing the risks associated with manual processing. Each of the factors mentioned above is critical in today's competitive environment. The sooner businesses master network automation, the sooner they can manage dynamic network infrastructure.
Organisations benefit from automating their networks and services in the following ways:
- Fewer incidents - Common network issues are organically resolved through low-code and playbook-based procedures. Concerns regarding manual processes, such as setup errors and typos, are reduced.
- Cost savings - Automation simplifies the underlying infrastructure, requiring fewer human-hours to configure, operate, and manage services and networks. Companies can reduce the amount of troubleshooting and maintenance needed by streamlining processes and consolidating network services.
- Network resilience - By eliminating the need for manual interruptions in the case of an event, companies can provide and maintain a high level of service.
- Network downtime - By minimising the risk of human error, businesses can offer and deliver higher-quality and more consistent services across locations.
- Strategic workforce - Businesses can boost productivity by automating repetitive operations, which fuels corporate growth and innovation.
- Network insight and control - Automation enables IT operations to be more responsive to changes. Businesses gain greater visibility into their network, allowing them to govern and adjust as needed.
Network automation and scripting use cases
Maintenance and expansion efforts grow more complicated and time-consuming as networks become more sophisticated. Therefore, it is important to deploy, move, and provide new network components across physical and cloud networks efficiently and consistently. Network automation is essential for maintaining a steady rate of change and ensuring compliance.
Here are a few examples of common network automation use cases.
1. Configuration and provisioning
Device provisioning refers to the process of preparing and equipping a network so that it can provide new services to its users. During provisioning, administrators adjust device configuration, such as changing the IP address of a firewall interface or adding appropriate configuration files to a newly installed WAN router.
Network automation eliminates the need for human effort by automating the sequential execution of a series of procedures and enables provisioning schemes to be applied to multiple devices simultaneously.
Network provisioning can be automated with custom Python scripts and Ansible playbooks. Regardless of the automation tool used, repetitive operations, maintaining device inventory files, and creating a continuous delivery plan can enhance configuration management and network performance.
The APIs/SDKs and Python modules of Aruba allow businesses to build solutions around all of Aruba's technologies. For example, using ArubaOs, all switching equipment, mobility controllers, APs, network management, policy management, user and entity behavioural analytics, cloud networking, location analytics, and location-based services can all be automated.
Service assurance systems monitor network resources and restore them as needed. However, some of these systems necessitate regular maintenance. Automation aids in collecting data, the performance of diagnostics, the identification and correction of faults. AI-powered automation is widely used for diagnostics and preventative maintenance.
SLAs for consumer services and internal Key Product Index (KPI) violations trigger network diagnosis, configuration changes, and repair. Automation is essential for quickly acquiring and analysing massive amounts of data in these cases.
Maintenance activities such as renewal of certificates, licensing, and end-of-life management are often done manually. As network systems increase in size, these procedures should be automated to avoid unexpected failures due to certification or license expiration. Network automation technologies enable enterprises to manage larger infrastructures with lower cost while reducing network downtime.
IT estates are hardware and software ecosystems that include computer, storage, and networking components. These aspects are frequently maintained as separate entities by various teams. This strategy results in an inflexible infrastructure with difficulty adapting to dynamic business environments.
Where work is required across multiple domains, this has traditionally been done manually and tracked with project management software. However, new orchestration approaches enable processes to be more standardised and automated than before.
To develop an agile structure, various aspects of the IT estate need to be handled cooperatively and across teams. The capacity to interface with many device kinds across multiple domains is referred to as orchestration.
This indicates that if a component (such as a server or storage configuration) is altered, a network modification is required. Network automation offers an effective and efficient reaction to changing IT environments.
Network automation has provided answers to several concerns for networking professionals, ranging from network provisioning to maintenance and orchestration. Network automation software is revolutionising how networks are handled.
Network automation offers numerous benefits to organisations. It offers more agility and fewer human error-induced incidents. Due to the reduced labour costs, network automation offers better workforce utilisation and significant cost savings. It also reduces network downtime, increases network resilience, and offers better insight and control.
With Aruba network automation and scripting APIs and SDK, companies like yours can make use of these benefits and more. As your trusted IT partner, we can help you investigate which offering is the most suitable for you to increase the efficiency of your business.