Network Automation – The Missing Piece of Your Digital Transformation
No enterprise is immune to the demands of digital transformation.
As digital pacesetters put pressure on incumbent enterprises, business and IT leaders are increasing their spending on digital transformation. Studies show that by 2022 digital transformation spending will reach nearly $2 trillion.
And yet, IDC found that 59% of companies remain at a digital impasse as they try to revamp their data centers for greater IT agility and efficiency. Research shows that half of all Global 2000 companies will be going through a digital transformation by 2020 to achieve greater IT performance and efficiency.
Still, many organizations try to keep pace with new technologies and innovation by continually deploying new digital solutions on a tired and inadequate network that can’s support the number of speeds and feeds required to allows these applications and hardware to perform at optimal levels. Successful digital transformation requires more.
This is where automation steps in. With an intelligent approach to IT automation, you can upgrade older elements of your data center platform at your own pace, moving them into the cloud and making them “programmable” so that they perform according to your needs, supporting all your digital transformation initiatives in the process. Here’s how it works.
Not All Automation Is Created Equal
Enterprises are already spending over $12 billion on IT automation in 2018. And by 2025, spending will reach nearly $232 billion.
If you’re already investing in automated solutions, you might think you’ve laid the groundwork for successful digital transformation. However, there are so many enterprises with debilitating issues at the network level.
The technologies that act as building blocks for a digital organization—the Internet of Things, cloud computing, mobility, etc.—are all network-centric. You may have automated solutions in place to support these technologies, but a slow network will keep you from reaping the benefits.
Gartner calls this the “islands of automation” concept. According to Gartner Research Vice President, Milind Govekar:
“Most current uses of automation in IT involve scripting. Scripts are more fragile than agile. What you end up with is disconnected islands of automation, with spaghetti code throughout the organization when what you need is a systematic, enterprise-wide lasagna.”
If your data center is packed with islands of automation, you’ll experience complex management, increased costs, and workforce inefficiency as you try to carry out the digital transformation.
The reality is that automation is a journey. It’s different for every business. Having disparate, automated systems across your data center is much different than having an intelligent automation strategy that’s tailored to your specific needs and capabilities.
3 Components of Intelligent Automation
To accelerate your digital transformation efforts, you need to address three key pillars of an intelligent automation strategy:
- Automation, itself: Technologies must be integrated with operational processes to create smart, personalized automation policies.
- Visibility: Your entire data center stack—infrastructure, technology, and culture—must come together to integrate real-time intelligence into automated workflows.
- Flexible Platforms: The right solutions help you deploy a network built for speed, agility, and easy scalability.
Without advanced network automation to support your digital technologies, keeping up with digital disruptors will be a persistent challenge. But when you find a way to intelligently automate the network, you’ll unlock greater IT staff efficiency, better user experiences—all while reducing business risk. We’ll explain what that means.
Serious Benefits of Network Automation
As you deploy more digital, network-centric services across your data center, the traditional leaf-spine infrastructure becomes increasingly complex. To expand your network, you have to cable up the leaf switches, cable the uplinks to the spine, and add a management network to facilitate provisioning.
This is the problem. Without network-level automation, you have to go into each leaf switch and manually configure it using the command line interface to get network services up and running.
The process eats up precious IT resources that could be better spent on more valuable digital transformation initiatives. Not only that, but high-volume manual tasks also open the door for errors. Even a simple misconfiguration can lead to end-user experience issues and security vulnerabilities.
By automating these processes, you can eliminate human error and complete provisioning in less than four seconds. Using Extreme Networks embedded fabric automation, you can achieve a plug-and-play configuration that delivers the IT agility and efficiency necessary for digital transformation.
But this doesn’t have to happen all at once. You can automate at your own pace, taking steps such as:
- Intro to Automation: Taking an iterative approach to automation keeps you from over-extending your capabilities. As an entry point, you can start with simple, on-box automation. This generic use of embedded fabric automation sets you up for more advanced use cases as the digital transformation takes shape.
- Automation Customization: Your next step is to start customizing an automation platform to your specific needs. Using RESTful APIs, automation suites, and centralized management, you can make digital transformation initiatives more efficient.
- Cross-Domain Automation: The final tier of data center transformation is when you orchestrate each level of IT automation with a composer that facilitates the cross-domain functionality.
Using Extreme Networks Fabric Connect streamlines your network automation journey by eliminating protocol overlays, unifying the wired and wireless networks, and enabling true dynamic services through a suite of zero-touch policy and networking features.
Some of the immediate advantages to your business include:
- Supports all of your network services with just one protocol
- Accelerates time-to-service through network service automation
- Simple and flexible network design
- Delivers PIM-Free IP multicast that is scalable, resilient, and easy to manage
- Inherent secure and stealth networking capabilities
- “Lightning Fast” convergence times (sub-second)
- Supports dynamic auto-attach capabilities
- Works over third-party IP networks
- Delivers policy-driven automation
Taking a structured approach to network automation gives you a foundation capable of supporting digital transformation, regardless of how your needs evolve.
Finding Your Own Path to Intelligent Automation
If you want to get the most out of automation, you have to look deeper than the high-level promises. Greater efficiency, reduced risk, improved scalability, and maximum IT agility all sound great. To avoid a network of automated silos, you need a true automation strategy to bring it all together.
That means thinking bigger than tools to start. Then, as you evaluate tools, you want to focus on open solutions that fit into a more modern, agile culture. And when you start down the path of automation with out-of-the-box solutions, you can get a head start on digital transformation while your backend systems continue to evolve.
Want more insight into forging your own path to automation? Download our free eBook, The Smart Guide to Intelligent Automation, and find out how to make your organization more efficient.