3 Suggestions for Network Automation

3 suggestions for network automationNetwork automation is a hot topic right now. However, many of the automation solutions focus on edge-port provisioning. I can understand why vendors are chasing this niche; port-provisioning is a high-volume and error-prone activity.

Network Automation Ideas

Port provisioning isn’t the only cause of heartache in networking. In this post I’ve shared a few painful problems that the network industry could tackle instead. I want to get you thinking and talking about the poor processes which sap your concentration and resolve, and how we could tighten your process then automate the pain away.

Data Centre Access

It can be incredibly difficult and time consuming to get access to a client data centre or cage. The most common delays and restrictions are due to poor lines of communication, shoddy process and a lack of automation. Some datacenter vendors provide a simple web-portal for their customers.

Your key personnel could use this portal to approve access requests to their own facilities in a CoLo. Sadly, most facilities more don’t allow this self-service approach leaving you back with phone calls, email chains, and a security guard with a clipboard saying ‘you’re not on the list’.

A web-portal like this should be one of your ‘MUST’ criteria for site selection. It’s a little frustrating to lose time on deep technical problems, but the hours lost to lousy procedural issues is easily stamped out. Low-hanging fruit.

RMA Management

The entire RMA process is far too cumbersome. I find that there are too many points in the RMA process where the customer has to glue the steps together themselves.

You may, for example, need to link the RMA ID with the ticket then copy details of shipment updates from the RMA and from the Support case back into your own internal ticket.

You might also need manage a separate license process to transfer your current license to the replacement unit. None of those sub-task are particularly onerous, but to my mind they should be integrated to allow the customer a greater chance of a seamless replacement. Every minute wasted counts towards MTTR.

WAN Tracking and Management

Can you say exactly how many WAN links you have, and if they’re all actually in use? How would you know if your company is paying for WAN links that had traffic shifted from them years ago. Lastly, how do you know if you’re overpaying for your WAN links or not?

So much of the current SD-WAN trend focus is on saving money by optimising the usage of ‘expensive’ wan links. What about looking at a more fundamental cost-saving opportunity…

Yep, just get someone to do a review of your WAN links and cease your unused circuits. If you’re trying to grow your career you could take on this audit personally. Think how awesome it would be to gain a promotion by saving the company the equivalent of your annual salary in OPEX.

Sherpa Summary

Looking for inefficiency or waste is a great practise, but this wastage is often dressed up as a collection of mundane processes, rather than sexy technological problems. The examples may seem a little mundane, but think about it. It’s the large collection of mundane crap that reduces your job satisfaction. It makes sense to tackle the problems in this space first.

But what about you? How many broken processes are you aware of that slow you down or waste your time. What foreseeable problems do you see other engineers fall into again and again? Could any of them be solved with a quick documented process and automation?

I would LOVE to hear from you in the comments section. Thanks for reading.

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