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Picking the Right Automation Tool for the Job

The Web provides a lot of information on networking and IT automation, and many tools are presented as the right solution to fix your IT problem. There is a growing stable of open source tools as well as a variety of commercial products. But you’ll soon find that selecting the right tool depends on the task. Some tools can handle multiple tasks, but more frequently, each tool will do one thing well.

This isn’t a new scenario. Network management typically requires multiple tools. A quick look at the NetCraftsmen Network Management Architecture shows eight different functions, some of which may require more than one tool. Since IT and network automation are similar to network management, it should be no surprise that multiple tools are needed.

So, let’s look at some of the tools and possibilities.

Configuration Management

Configuration management is often the first task that comes to mind when we talk about network automation, a very difficult task to solve for many vendors. In some products, the commands take effect immediately, while other products allow for a commit and roll-back phase. A mistyped IP address or the wrong interface name in a configuration update could result in the device being cut-off from the management system. Sometimes, commands are added to a configuration, while other commands replace existing commands. There are also different interfaces for managing configurations: command-line interface, network management protocols, or APIs.

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