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Driving Better Enterprise CX with Network Automation

By: Chuck Girt

On-demand is today’s de facto standard. From seamless connected experiences to conveniences enabled by the gig economy, the expectation of immediacy that fuels our modern consumer lives has crept effortlessly into the modern enterprise. Touching every aspect of an organization, IT professionals in particular feel the pressure as the department delivering the network and tech upon which the business operates.

In turn, IT leaders expect the same response from their service providers: to route business-critical traffic in real time, every time and may get vocal if their demands—and service-level agreements (SLAs)—are not met. In an age where delivering a stellar customer experience is paramount, service providers have started to introduce automation to their networks to enhance performance and, ultimately, the enterprises they serve.

Network automation refers to a simplification, or automation, of existing processes in the network. It gives service providers the opportunity to let software execute tasks such as planning, deployment, optimizationand maintenanceof networks and services. Automation can be deployed virtually anywhere within a service provider’s network for tasks such as configuration and activation to simplify customer onboarding, routine transport needs and mitigate outage situations. It can also be used to augment network resiliency and to get traffic from Point A to Point B by the quickest path possible. Using network automation systems and tools, service providers can drive efficiency, agility and reliability throughout the network to deliver a stellar experience for their enterprise customers.

Using network automation today

As network automation tools grow in sophistication to manage increasingly complex functions within the service provider network, the benefits move well beyond simplification to predictive analysis and, ultimately, to zero-touch networks. The reality, however, is that many service providers aren’t yet using more than basic network routing automation, at least in any meaningful way. Instead, they are still using human engineers to manually resolve network issues and reroute traffic each time issues arise. The downside is that humans are by nature error prone. Cisco reports that up to 95 percent of network changes today are done manually, leading to configuration errors and inconsistencies.

However, expect to see more service providers jumping on board with network automation, as advancements in recent technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) puts increased pressure on networks, according to a report from Global Market Insights. The analyst firm reports that the network automation market size surpassed $3 billion in 2019 and will reach $18 billion by 2026, a CAGR of around 25 percent.Network automation is needed to simply keep pace in an increasingly digital world and can help ease the path for service providers undergoing digital transformation.

The benefits of network automation for service providers are strong. Imagine the following real-world examples.

Outages

Network automation can resolve a major network outage in a matter of seconds, instead of hours or days. In some cases, with automation, an outage is fixed, and traffic is rerouted in milliseconds—so quickly that the service provider may not be aware that an issue even occurred until reading the reports.

Expertise

Having access to an intelligent network that uses AI to “learn” how an experienced network engineer would respond to certain scenarios and conduct the task automatically is game changing. This “playbook automation” method—utilizing “if this, then that” type scenarios—gains the expertise of an experienced engineer without the manual effort.



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