Network teams have a lot of their plates – after all, they are responsible for designing, implementing, provisioning, configuring and maintaining the computer networks that keep the business running. Not surprisingly, most CIOs place automation initiatives on top of their agenda, hoping to harness the many benefits promised by the concept of automating IT processes that are currently being handled manually. Most network automation solutions promise to save you money, increase efficiency, free up engineers’ time to focus on more strategic initiatives, improve agility, and minimize human errors. However, not all automation solutions are capable of giving you the desired business outcomes, and making the wrong choice can lead to resentment, wasted time and investment, and giving the neigh-sayers ammunition to shut down future automation efforts. Let’s look at what attributes are essential for a truly intelligent network automation solution. What makes a product not just good, but great, and capable of giving you the business results that you are counting on.
Automation Across Infrastructure
Everything is moving to the cloud, but it’s not just one type of cloud. Most organizations have adopted a hybrid-cloud strategy, mixing and matching public and private cloud infrastructures, along with software-defined and hardware environments, picking configurations that are best suited to host specific applications and support particular tasks. Many of today’s available application delivery and network automation solutions do not support such hybrid-cloud environments. Their workflows don’t work across hybrid infrastructure, severely limiting IT teams’ ability to give their customers a consistent user experience across all platforms. At AppViewX, we build solutions that can automate hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud network infrastructure, along with any existing legacy hardware infrastructure. Our Application Delivery Automation software allows teams to automate and orchestrate network infrastructure, on a variety of virtualization platforms, operating systems, and more, helping you deliver a great experience to all your users, across all platforms.
Intelligent Automation for True Business Agility
A very common approach in the industry is to automate individual tasks. And while it may seem like a good, sensible tactic to focus on steps that are well defined and understood, it doesn’t translate into faster service delivery or better network configuration. Such near-sighted view of automation produced a range of tools that attempt to automate the network without really understanding how it is configured. Pushing a piece of code to trigger a specific event is not automation, or at least, it’s not really “intelligent” automation. At AppViewX, we call our approach “context-aware automation”. Our solutions allow Ops teams to see the configuration, state, and performance of their entire network infrastructure, and we offer workflows that can be automatically triggered by changes to the network components that support specific applications. That’s what we mean by “context-aware” – our products really understand the network, helping you deliver compliance and true business agility, not just push a few lines of code at the right time.
And Speaking of Code…
Network IT professionals are software engineers, but they typically are not experienced coders. Most technology vendors will promise you that any business analyst is able to successfully use their solutions, but we all know that that’s almost never true. If there’s scripting involved, you will need to learn to write that script, or bring in someone who can. There are many available solutions on the market today that boast a large and active user community and ever-expanding libraries of abundant examples of custom automation code. But even when code samples are readily available, someone still needs to have the skill to parse what’s being offered and modify it to fit their company’s unique use case. AppViewX is one of the few companies in this space that offers no-code automation. With AppViewX, you can design both simple and complex workflows – no coding required. It’s an intuitive system for building self-serviceable, event-driven, intelligent workflows based entirely on our built-in library of tasks. And for truly advanced integrations – like triggering automated ticket creation and resolution based on input from ITSM systems or connecting with third-party systems for zero-touch NetOps automation – there are available REST APIs that can be used by more experienced Application and DevOps programmers.
Delivering Network as a (Self-) Service
These days, you can consume almost anything “as a service”, but few enterprise teams have the ability to launch automated workflows to change network configurations without manual intervention from NetOps. AppViewX has introduced the concept of network configuration as a service. With AppViewX, applications teams, DevOps, security groups, and many other IT teams are able to make required changes to the network just like they are able to modify other portions of the infrastructure – computers, storage, hardware, etc. Application teams can view and control application traffic and perform application swings through customized dashboards. Network engineers can create and publish workflows that application owners can access through input forms, for processes like application provisioning and configuration changes, based on their role and permission levels.