Is Network Automation Really Faster?

When you need to change the network configuration, the old cut-and-paste method can be quicker than automation via an API, but there are reasons networking pros need to adopt automation.

Terry Slattery

July 3, 2018

1 Min Read
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I've had several conversations with experienced network engineers about starting to use automation instead of manual processes for doing network configuration and diagnostic tasks. For a few tens of network devices, they often consider cut-and-paste (or copy-and-paste) operations with a text editor as simpler and faster than automation.

I can't deny that creating or modifying the configurations of 10 or 20 network devices can be accomplished quickly with an editor and SSH. It might take several days for a network engineer, who wouldn't typically be an experienced software developer to create and thoroughly test an automation script. The expedient approach is frequently preferred when you're just trying to get to "DONE!"

Why use automation?
If cut-and-paste is faster, why are we looking at automation? Here are several reasons:

  • To reduce human errors -- Studies have shown that human errors result in 60% to 80% of network failures and cut-and-paste is an error-prone, manual process. If a network device isn't reachable for a configuration change, the network engineer needs to make note to perform the configuration change when connectivity is restored. Finally, manual processes don't scale up for large networks.

  • To make the network as adaptable as the IT server environment -- Many server teams have been using automation for years, creating highly dynamic server systems. Network automation can provide the desired connectivity and security in a timely manner.

Read the rest of this article on No Jitter.

About the Author(s)

Terry Slattery

Principal Architect, NetCraftsmenTerry Slattery is a principal architect at NetCraftsmen, an advanced network consulting firm that specializes in high-profile and challenging network consulting jobs. Terry is currently working on network management, SDN, business strategy consulting, and interesting legal cases. He is the founder of Netcordia, inventor of NetMRI, has been a successful technology innovator in networking during the past 20 years, and is co-inventor on two patents. He has a long history of network consulting and design work, including some of the first Cisco consulting and training. As a consultant to Cisco, he led the development of the current Cisco IOS command line interface. Prior to Netcordia, Terry founded Chesapeake Computer Consultants, which became a Cisco premier training and consulting partner. At Chesapeake, he co-invented and patented the v-LAB system to provide hands-on access to real hardware for the hands-on component of internetwork training classes.Terry co-authored the successful McGraw-Hill text "Advanced IP Routing in Cisco Networks," is the second CCIE (1026) awarded, and is a regular speaker at Enterprise Connect and Interop.

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