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Data-Driven Network Automation: Achieving Business Continuity While Staying Lean During an Economic Slowdown

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Network automation
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COVID-19 is a classic example of The Butterfly Effect. The novel coronavirus, measuring hardly a few nanometers, set off a series of events that culminated in the global economy almost grinding to a halt. People are afraid to step out of their homes, gaping holes in the supply chain have stalled trade, and stock markets have nose-dived.

With enterprises everywhere staring at a sharp slump in revenue, the natural response is to start downsizing. To stay afloat, businesses are stripping their expenses down to the bare minimum. Budgetary cuts become inevitable. Cutbacks in all forms of spending - from supplies to technologies, and sometimes even the workforce, are becoming the norm.

From a technological standpoint, how do CIOs decide what to invest in, what to keep, and what to let go of? By evaluating what the solution brings to the table, its ROI (return on investment).

In the current scenario, the emphasis is on enterprises to function with minimum resources - i.e., to continue providing services while cutting back on capital and operating expenditures. For most enterprises that have a digital presence, “services” translate to transactions that are conducted over the internet through customer-facing applications. For such an enterprise, a huge chunk of the expenses is incurred in running the network infrastructure that underpins these applications.

The capital and operational expenditures incurred in network infrastructure management are explained below:

Capital expenditures: Setting up a network is a costly affair. The network is made up of a myriad of devices across many layers, and most of these devices are provided by many different vendors. Acquiring and maintaining them in proper working conditions takes up a lot of money. These devices come with EOLs (End-of-Life), on reaching which they need to be replaced with new devices, which is again expensive.

Operating expenditures: Owing to its span and complexity, the network is one of the most difficult entities to manage. It requires a drone of dedicated engineers, administrators, and architects working round the clock to perform the hundreds of configuration changes that arise out of DevOps activities on a daily basis. Network operations are slow and chiefly manual, and the results are seldom commensurate with cost and effort. Also, the vendors’ device management platforms come with their own price tags, and an enterprise needs to use several of them to manage their heterogeneous network infrastructures.

From the above, it’s evident that CIOs should invest in technology that can drastically cut down the expenditures incurred in managing the network infrastructure, while also keeping applications and services up and running.

The best approach to take, at this time and for the long run too, is automating the network infrastructure management. A data-driven network automation approach helps reduce both operating and capital expenses, including:

  • Automation removes the need for much human intervention in network processes by taking care of the manual busywork, thereby freeing up resources. These resources can then be assigned tasks that bring more value to the enterprise, helping CIOs optimize the workforce and trim the edges.

  • Processes that are automated can be accomplished in one-tenth of the time it takes to do them manually and are error-free, too, resulting in savings of more than 1000 hours a month. In a scenario where time is money, this saves an enterprise almost $2 Million a year.

  • Automating network processes makes sure SLAs (service level agreements) with clients are met, and business continuity is kept up, however tight resources are. Intuitive network orchestration platforms perform context-aware automation, closed-loop troubleshooting, and auto-remediation, keeping applications and services always on and available.

  • Some network automation platforms are also vendor-agnostic, which lets the organization invest in only one such platform to manage the entire network, how many ever-different vendors it may comprise. They can also manage hybrid and multi-cloud network infrastructures - leading to significant cost-savings.

  • Automation helps in bringing down capital expenditure too. Intelligent automation solutions provide real-time, data-driven monitoring of the network devices to optimize resource utilization, support informed purchase decisions by analyzing performance and cut down redundancy.

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