The Goals, Barriers, and Why Now is the Time to Invest in Network Hyperautomation

To excel in today’s economy, enterprise leaders are focused on accomplishing more with less. The accelerated pace of business transformation in the past four years has only added to the complexity of these goals. Today, with sprawling hybrid, multi-vendor, multi-domain, multi-cloud environments making up the backbone of leading enterprise networks, a focus on hyperautomation is crucial.

Even after establishing the goals of an enterprise’s hyperautomation transition, the approach network teams and leadership take to accomplish these goals can lead to differing degrees of success. Hyperautomation can come in different forms and the approach matters. Early forms of automation came in the form of custom scripting and these DIY methods have remained a core approach for enterprises. However, as technology has advanced, pre-built solutions are fast-tracking hyperautomation efforts to ensure optimal results for the network teams that adopt them.

The Growing Piles and Ticking Time Bombs Smothering Transformation

Maintaining complex network systems with legacy infrastructure demands costly, labor-intensive efforts as network operations teams must dedicate days to configure new devices and weeks to update operating systems across devices. Meanwhile, misconfigurations may take several frantic hours of an administrator’s time to troubleshoot. Cisco found that 95 percent of network changes are performed manually, resulting in operational costs two to three times higher than the cost of the network.

While the costs of maintaining uptime pile up, the threat of an unforeseen network outage looms like a ticking time bomb. Depending on the scale of the enterprise, the financial implications can escalate quickly, with Gartner estimating potential losses ranging from thousands to millions of dollars per hour. Relying on legacy manual systems forces highly skilled network IT teams to keep spinning plates instead of pushing an organization’s digital transformation journey forward. Implementing digital transformation still faces barriers, but with the right hyperautomation approach, immense opportunities become accessible.

People, Process, Tools; the Barriers to Hyperautomation

The known advantages of network hyperautomation do not necessarily guarantee buy-in from enterprise network leadership. Change is never easy, but it’s impossible without understanding the barriers.

Foremost, network hyperautomation can be a significant change in both the day-to-day and standard operations of network teams. Over their careers, teams develop a certain momentum in their methods and technical knowledge. Furthermore, novelty can give rise to misconceptions, fueling skepticism that impedes progress. Often, network hyperautomation is most rapidly embraced by network teams that envision themselves as pioneering leaders in their field with a strong understanding of pre-built solutions’ available on the market.

Even network teams that are prepared to lead transformative projects with support from their enterprise can find themselves struggling to overcome the momentum of legacy processes. This is unsurprising when considering many enterprises’ IT environments include decades of technical debt — custom scripting, countless outdated and unsupported devices, and nebulous webs of interactions and dependencies that have never been properly mapped or understood. In many ways, these barriers are also the problems that network hyperautomation most directly address.

Lastly, the lack of comprehensive tooling necessary to implement network hyperautomation has been a significant barrier to implementation. As networks became increasingly complex, various tools appeared to attack different problems from different angles. Enterprises found themselves bringing on experts to implement and maintain these tools. Then, when these disparate approaches became too much to handle, they turned to custom scripting to combine these approaches using automation that lacked a coherent strategy. Ultimately, these legacy-burdened networks and inconsistent DIY automation endeavors resulted in a network that was even more convoluted than before.

Establishing the Ground Work for Network Hyperautomation

As described by Gartner, hyperautomation is the business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Network hyperautomation aims to automate end-to-end processes so network administrators can focus their time and efforts on strategic initiatives, innovative approaches, and the development of superior user experiences. It integrates advanced technologies such as network topology, network robotic process automation (NRPA) and intelligent analytics, such as those available through Gluware Intelligent Network Automation, to automate and orchestrate complex network operations and management tasks. Some key capabilities include: intelligent workflows, intent-based networking (IBN), self-healing networks, predictive and proactive network operations, and integration with DevOps.

But beware, piecemeal implementation of these capabilities encourages a directionless approach to automation. It’s only by combining them through a consistent, comprehensive, and code-free approach that the benefits of hyperautomation can be realized. Pre-built solutions are designed to do just that.

An out-of-the box hyperautomation platform like Gluware delivers the features, simplicity, and reliability that organizations need to ensure scalability. Pre-built technology gives enterprises the control and cost savings needed to enable each aspect of hyperautomation and implement its benefits network-wide.

Out-of-the-box solutions also offer a simplified process model for network teams as they implement effective network automation. These new processes can be delivered end-to-end with minimal human intervention and a standardized approach that give teams the confidence to move faster toward advanced automation. Ultimately, platforms like Gluware allow network teams to depend on automation early on and let go of the legacy processes and technical debt that are smothering network transformation.

Hyperautomation or Just Hype?

Widespread implementation of network hyperautomation is on the rise and beginning to cross the tipping point of a steep adoption curve. However, the choice to opt for a commercial solution instead of in-house development hasn’t been as straightforward as it is now.

Networks are inherently complex, and their lack of standardization, tendencies for rapid evolution, and shouldering of mission-critical operations created a particularly high barrier to entry for commercial service providers. This led many enterprises to launch automation practices in-house. However, these higher costs, longer ROI horizons and lack of tailored talent, have limited the efficacy of in-house efforts. Similarly, the NetDevOps platforms that are common today provide some automation capabilities, but the complex scripting, numerous engineers and costly management they require creates an entirely new set of challenges.

Pre-built network automation capabilities enable enterprises to rapidly align their people, processes and tools toward digital transformation; essentially, it accelerates hyperautomation by letting go of the sins of the past. With Gluware, enterprises can leap over the challenges of DIY and NetDevOps and start with the consistent, comprehensive, and code-free approach necessary to build effective and lasting automation programs. Its pre-built app suite and out-of-the-box service layer and vendor integrations enable enterprises to free up network administrators’ time, reduce manual errors, eliminate unplanned outages, and improve service delivery in days instead of months or years.

Enterprises that want to breathe oxygen into the fire of their transformation efforts must first provide a stable structure for the flame to climb. The network is that structure and the right hyperautomation approach ensures its stability. Ignoring either will see the fire collapse to coals, but tending to both will fan a fire that lights the way to a more prosperous future.

Author's Bio

Ernest Lefner

Chief Product Officer, Gluware

Ernest Lefner comes to Gluware with over 20 years of financial services IT Leadership experience. Ernest Lefner has held a variety of roles in his career including an executive role at Ernst & Young, and 13+ years building and leading the Fidelity Investments Network Product Management, Cyber Security Engineering organizations. In addition, Ernest spent 5 years as a change agent driving change across infrastructure at Bank of America and most notably built the Network, Voice, and Security Architecture and Engineering organizations during the insourcing of the network from HP. Ernest has also been a powerful industry presence through co-founding the industry organization known as ONUG (Open Networking Users Group) which is focused on sharing IT experiences between members to help the adoption of complex technology like software-defined infrastructure, Automation, and Cloud. Ernest also spent 12 years in the United States Air Force and is passionate about Veterans causes and gives back to the community through his participation and leadership on the North Texas advisory board for Npower organization focused on free training and transitioning of veterans and underprivileged youth into new careers in IT.