The need for speed applies to all aspects of the business, and within the IT Ops space, network engineers are being pressured to evolve, be quicker, fix problems faster and drive more strategic projects. The problem is that they are being held back by manual processes.
“Every organization today has an enterprise network, and they are fundamentally challenged with gaining visibility into that network infrastructure,” said Grant Ho, SVP for global marketing at NetBrain Technologies. “There is still very strong pain around manual processes that network engineers need to do everyday when it comes to things like troubleshooting and security.”
According to Ho, a network engineer is someone who is focused on architecture and design, someone who work in the operation centers to diagnose and fix problems, and someone who is concerned about network security.
The three main challenges network engineers are facing today are gaining visibility, manual processes and the lack of collaboration.
Ho explains in terms of visibility, neworks are getting much more complex and that complexity is being driven by the size of the networks that are demanded by the business as well as the increasing virtualization of the business.
The second challenge around manual processes has to do with a majority of network engineers still troubleshooting their networks with a command line interface. “They are going in device by device and that takes a lot of time. When network engineers are under pressure by the business to reduce the time to resolution and drive agility for the business, every single second counts,” said Ho.
The third challenge is around collaboration. “If you think about a lot of the network issues today, when there is a problem organizations typically rely on tribal leaders, someone who knows all the answers to the problems,” said Ho. The issue here is those leaders typically put all that information into binders, checklists and design guides; and sharing that information can be really slow.
To address these challenges, Ho recommends applying automation to the problem.
When it comes to visibility, Ho says automation can help teams automatically discover a network that can automatically update itself in real time. “Visibility usually occurs with pen and paper or within Visio. Here, you are looking at the network device by device and trying to draw out on Visio what the network looks like. When you try to do that and there are changes to the network, as soon as you create your diagram it is already out of date,” he said. “Automated exporting can be very valuable to helping network engineers reduce the pain in the manual network diagram process.”
For the CLI, instead of going in device by device and executing a whole bunch of CLI commands to solve a problem, Ho recommends network engineers automate the CLI to detect and alert about any problems. “What if the CLI could be all put into a script and that script could magically be automated whenever there was a problem” he said.
Lastly, Ho says network engineers can apply an automatic knowledge transfer process to improve collaboration and put it in a digestible format that can be easily understood from anyone in the organization when a network problem occurs. “If all that knowledge could be transferred so even junior engineers can execute on that knowledge and solve problems in real time, that is going to speed up a lot of network issues we see today,” he said.