Automation is here for you, for your help.

From scripting to tool optimization, there’s a lot available for you. And the best part? All these make streamlining processes easier – saving you time, and improving overall network performance.

In this guide, we will walk you through what network automation is, and more importantly the fundamentals. We’ll also explore how with automation you can manage your network infrastructure. No matter whether you’re a seasoned network infrastructure or someone just stepping onto the bandwagon, this article has something for everyone.

Understanding Network Automation

In layman’s language, it is all about using software and tools to manage and operate computer networks. One can either use scripts or optimized tools to do the same. The task can be anything like – performing repetitive work, configuration changes, and monitoring activities. If not automation, these tasks would otherwise require much manual interaction.

Talking about recent times, network automation has become much more popular. Reason being, businesses are now looking for enhanced operational efficiency and reduced human errors, and automation is providing all of this.

Benefits of Network Automation

Well, the benefits are endless. But to talk about one major benefit – it increases operational efficiency. It automates repetitive tasks hence saving time. Additionally, it allocates resources to more critical areas of network management, which sometimes gets difficult, if done manually.

Network automation also reduces human errors. It ensures consistency and accuracy by eliminating misconfigurations. How does this matter?

Misconfigurations often lead to network downtime and security breaches, which no company or organization can afford at any cost. And to the last, it allows faster troubleshooting and problem resolution – as scripts quickly identify and rectify network issues.

Getting Started with Scripting for Network Automation

To talk about fundamentals – scripting comes first in the network automation circumference. With scripting, network administrators can automate tasks, create custom solutions, and achieve greater efficiency.

The most commonly used scripting languages are Python, PowerShell, and Bash.

PowerShell

Being one of the most popular scripting languages, PowerShell is specifically designed for the Windows environment. It provides network administrators with a rich set of commands and features. These all automate tasks on Windows-based network devices.

Coming to use cases, PowerShell works best for managing active directories, exchanging servers, and other Microsoft technologies that are commonly found in enterprise networks.

Bash Scripting

Next comes Bash Scripting which is primarily used in Unix-based systems – like, Linux and Mac OS. As compared to the later one, Bash is a lightweight language. But it doesn’t compromise at all with scripting capabilities. Hence it’s commonly used for automating tasks related to file manipulation, system administration, and most importantly – network configuration.

Some More Essential Tools 

The automation process is tricky initially. But with the right tools, the process can be simplified quite quickly, and let’s not forget the insights you’ll be getting into your network’s performance – actually an added benefit!

NCM Tools

Popularly known as network configuration management tools, one can automate the configuration and management of network devices with these tools. They provide users with a centralized platform, which helps them to monitor and control their network. All of this also reduces the risk of human error ensuring that the configurations are consistent across all devices.

Network Monitoring Tools

Next comes network monitoring tools that help users keep a close eye on the network’s health and performance. They provide users with real-time visibility into network traffic, device status, and even application performance. All of this allows users to proactively identify and resolve issues before they even impact users.

Automation Frameworks

The scripting process is tedious, but not with automation frameworks. Reason being, that these frameworks offer users a set of pre-built modules and libraries. They offer a wide range of functionalities like device discovery, configuration management, and task scheduling. All of this, hence makes it easier for users to automate complex network operations.

Scripting Editors

Efficient script development demands choosing the right scripting editor – and we’ll tell you, it’s not an easy task. However, some popular editors are available for your help like sublime text, Visual Studio Code, and Pycharm. These editors come with features like syntax highlighting, code completion, and debugging tools which altogether enhance the scripting workflow.

Optimizing Your Scripts for Efficient Network Automation

For automation to happen the right way, it’s essential to write efficient scripts. So let’s get into some tips that will help you to optimize your scripts the better way:

Use the right scripting language

You now know the languages, it’s time to pick one that best aligns with your automation goals. And also comes with the necessary functionalities!

Modularise your scripts

It’s always good to break down scrips into smaller, reusable modules. This way your code gets more organized and easier to maintain.

Implement error handling

Error handling goes a long way because you can always expect some unexpected errors. The right mechanism will actually ensure that the scripts handle these errors quickly.

Optimize network interactions

Parallel processing, multithreading, asynchronous programming – these programming techniques will optimize your network interactions.

Leverage APIs and libraries

To perform common network operations, make sure to leverage any existing API or library.

Best Practices for Network Automation Scripting

For successful scripting you have to follow just the best practices, and here are a few you can consider:

Document your scripts

Make sure to document your scripts with comments, function descriptions, and usage examples. This makes collaboration easier in the future, and even referencing gets quicker.

Version control your scripts

Always use version control tools. Whether it be Git or SVN, these tools will keep track of changes made to your scripts and collaborate with other team members.

Implement unit testing

Initially, make sure to write test cases for identifying and fixing bugs in the development process.

Adopt a DevOps mindset

DevOps philosophy is all about you promoting collaboration, automation, and continuous improvement – develop this in yourself.

Regularly update your scripts

Your network environment will change often. Hence make sure to regularly update your scripts to adapt to these changes, and be open to incorporate new functionalities, whenever required.

Network operations have become a tedious task these days, but network automation is already doing wonders. It’s your time to embrace automation. But make sure you’re starting with the right approach and tools. Trust us, automation can revolutionize the way your organisation is managing your networks, and we bet you’ll definitely achieve – better agility, scalability, and reliability!