With the increase in complexity of data center operations, the role of a network engineer is getting tougher by the day. If we account for the growing heterogeneity in the gear employed and the idiosyncrasies of the supporting software, it’s easy to see how operations stand to be more error prone. To understand why network automation is no longer just an advantage, but a necessity to thrive today, we had a conversation with seasoned network engineer and Data Center Product Manager at Juniper, Andy Lapteff, who also gives us the lowdown on the novel approach that Juniper Apstra uses to tackle this problem head on.
Taking a peek into the life of a network operations engineer is a great starting point to understand the raison d’être of network automation.
Traditionally, network engineers have spent a significant amount of time manually writing code while standing up or troubleshooting gear. Since each vendor usually has their own syntax, CLI and interface, the propensity for error naturally increases with additional gear. Vendor-specific automation alleviates this issue but only to a certain extent since organizations usually deal with multiple vendors for data center networks. It’s no walk in the park for an engineer to get acquainted with vendor-specific skills, tools and platforms, and this invariably impacts operational agility and reliability.
It’s like cutting cable to save costs only to subscribe to multiple on-demand streaming services that have different interfaces and no straightforward way to search content across all of them at once.
Apstra conveniently addresses this as it automates the setup and maintenance of data center networks across different vendors – this interactive demo gives a glimpse of how easy it is to get started. In an environment where supply chain issues have put projects on hold, organizations can now onboard equipment from different vendors without having to put up with long wait times for a specific vendor. With less time spent on manually setting up networks, maintaining networks and learning vendor-specific automation systems, network engineers can focus their time on high-value, strategic tasks and let the intent-based networking system interpret the configs as intended.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Forrester Research conducted an exhaustive economic analysis of businesses using Apstra and the results showed that Apstra provided up to 320% Return on Investment (ROI) over the first three years of deployment. From network design, to implementation, to ongoing operations, the automation platform has a significant impact that can help organizations unlock the true potential of their skilled workforce by not tying them up in mundane, manual tasks.
Complexity in data center operations has drastically increased in recent years, and the traditional way of doing things is not only inefficient but also doesn’t leave much time for network engineers to engage in higher-level tasks such as network design, outage planning and infrastructure improvement.
While automation is the way to simplify operations without sacrificing on reliability and accuracy, it’s not as simple as turning on a switch. Watch our Talking Automation video series, where we discuss the world of automation, common misconceptions, challenges for network engineers and the various benefits that organizations stand to gain with its adoption.