It’s Time for No-Code Network Automation

For decades, armies of network engineers have been mired in one-off, brute force approaches to maintaining the network (the very core of their digital businesses), anchored by each individual engineer’s personal knowledge and experience. And that personal expertise has become a badge of honor worn by many of those tenured engineers, becoming a bit of folklore along the way, essentially an ‘art’ rather than science. This ‘art’ of network management tends to result in problem resolutions that extend remediation times, incur higher levels of human error, have higher costs to the business and are executed very inconsistently. And when two engineers are solving the same type of problem, they will likely take two completely different approaches, and in some cases yield very different results. And as the number and types of network technologies increases within these organizations over time, encompassing everything from the edge to the cloud, the number of engineers that must become involved in problem resolutions has blossomed to become a non-trivial portion of the IT service delivery budget. This increase in the number of engineers involved in problem solving creates a never-ending stream of escalations and the associated extended repair times.

No wonder that this is the case because we all grew up on this hands-on approach. We have all been so close to the trees, that we forget what the forest looks like. And more specifically to the network management function, we have focused for so long on network device health, that we have lost track of the IT services that must be delivered for the business that run on top of all those boxes. Each engineer is quite proud that they have accumulated their own portfolio of tricks and tools and each practices network management like a franchise owner, rather than looking for ways to leverage the larger team.

But the knowledge is there! Through all of these individual efforts, each enterprise has amassed quite a base of network operations experience, and each of their engineers has probably run into every conceivable problem for their area of expertise and has probably solved each problem a dozen different ways. But that knowledge has not been written down. It has not been ‘codified’, or made reusable by others.

Which brings me to No-Code network automation. No-Code network automation is the means to capture all of that ‘tribal knowledge’ and make it available to the entire organization in a consistent fashion. It leverages the very problem solving processes right down to the command interfaces familiar to existing subject matter experts and allows those experts to abstract their processes to make them applicable across a wide range of similar scenarios. No-Code is not a programmer’s workspace, it is a network engineer’s console that allows them to use the same methodology they already know, but yet capture everything they do for reuse whenever it is needed, and by anyone that needs it.

No-Code network automation is not just a ‘fancy’ way of doing things. It changes the NetOps game entirely. Now engineers and other subject matter experts of all types (SecOps, ServerOps, Datacenter, WAN team, etc) can capture their expertise to solve the smallest or largest of problems. While old-school ‘Automation’ was thought of as a developer’s project (or nightmare) and would only be attempted for the largest and most well-defined scenarios, no-code network automation is agile and requires none of the programming skills that automation developers must possess. It can be applied anywhere an idea must be executed- at scale. For example, think of how useful it would be if you could create a bit of no-code automation that assured that each member in a pair of HA devices was configured identically? Or what about verifying that the community string for every active device was not ‘public’. Neither of these complicated ideas, but think of what doing either of these tasks by brute force and at scale would entail. And how long each of these simple ideas would take to get the desired results. In contrast, no-code network automation for these and a thousand other tasks could each be created in seconds, which could then be replicated across the entire network in similar situations in minutes, and then executed at scale automatically- saving countless hours or days in the process. (And what if you wanted to do this every day or week?)

It’s time for no-code network automation.

Author's Bio

Mark Harris

SVP of Marketing

NetBrain Technologies, Inc.