Lines of business demand agility, and IT teams that utilize legacy infrastructure and operations face hard limits on how agile they can be. Automating and integrating networking tasks streamlines operations and makes the network much easier to manage, minimizing downtime caused by human error while increasing organizational agility and efficiency.
But implementing network-wide automation that also integrates with cross-domain technologies presents three primary challenges.
Challenge 1: Vendor Lock-in. Vendor-specific network automation solutions may not completely address your organization’s unique automation needs and they lock you into the vendor's strategy and goals rather than your own. The result is often a flawed approach that doesn’t align and support your organization’s business and technical objectives.
Challenge 2: Integration Issues. When vendor-specific solutions provide cross-domain technology integration, the supported technologies might not align with the current or future technologies your organization prefers. This forces you to choose between supported technologies or the technologies you need to achieve your business and technical objectives. Rather than allowing you to select the best offerings from an array of vendors with open APIs and straightforward integration, vendor-specific environments limit your flexibility and ultimately dictate your automation strategy.
Challenge 3: Siloed Solutions. In-house and ad-hoc automation projects are difficult to extend beyond the individual problems or projects they were built to address—often resulting in siloed environments that fail to interlace seamlessly. This lack of consistency is most notable when you are automating the network and integrating with cross-domain technologies to deliver end-to-end IT services. The result is unexpected incompatibilities that take time and effort to resolve before all technology domains, including the network, can work harmoniously to streamline the delivery and ongoing operation of services.
The Solution: Conquering these challenges starts with basing network automation on open source software that innovates at the pace of the community—not the vendor—and integrates with multiple cross-domain technologies and platforms. For instance, when leveraging the active community of contributors and users common within the open source environment, you can benefit from seamless integration with commonly used platforms such as Amazon, VMware, and OpenStack. You can also leverage cross-domain technologies such as CRM, help desk ticketing, and collaboration.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of embracing a DevOps-inspired open source approach is the ability to accelerate the rate of innovation and continued automation by reducing the potential for vendor lock-in and unnecessary complexity. Open solutions and their associated ecosystem also have a tendency to address common issues faster because of the inherent holistic view and active collaboration among contributors with a vested interest.
Even a smaller organization with limited resources can supplement its IT staff by leveraging the contributions of the open source community, allowing you to respond to changing business requirements faster, more cost-effectively, and with greater flexibility.
For more guidance on modern automation strategies, visit our Network World blog page.
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