Network automation can eliminate manual and repetitive processes, reduce your risk of downtime, and get you back a whole lot of hours in the day. Some network automation tasks will be more complex than others, and some may also depend on the technologies that you’re comfortable with, such as software version control like Github or Beanstalk, scripting languages such as Python, Ruby or Perl, and automation tools like Ansible or CHEF.
If you’re looking to implement network automation, and you’re itching for some ideas, you’ve come to the right place! Here are ten ideas to get you thinking.
Use your device’s name, MAC or IP address to find where it is connected to the network. Let’s say you have a report that shows malware on a specific endpoint, and you need to track it down. You can create subtasks where you initially use the device name to find the IP address, then identify the correct subnet, mapping the IP address to the MAC address. You’ll then be able to find the switch port.
Check for Peer Connectivity
Network automation can help you check connections such as router to switch, switch- to switch, or EtherChannel groups. Do you have a database that highlights each network device and its connections? If so, you can automate a check to make sure that all your devices, whether they are routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers or otherwise, are all connecting accurately. In some cases, connectivity may have failed, or perhaps the initial set-up was faulty.
How often do you need to manually reset passwords for your clients, and how do you ensure that they comply with best-practices? Automation can absolutely be your friend here, by implementing rules that automate password resets, including two-factor authentication, policies for user activity, and a way to safely store passwords in a secure way.
If you have manual and repetitive processes that you complete for visitors or guests to your client locations – think about using network automation here. For example, set up a WiFi scheduler that allows you to choose the date and time to create a guest PSK, email the guest with a unique password, and then enable and disable the guest account on demand.
Switching vendors can be an operational headache, which leads to many MSPs and IT service providers opting to stick to what they know. However, network automation can help here. For example, think about switching firewall vendors for example. If you set up an automation that converts your existing firewall rules to the new vendor format, you’re not only speeding up time to value with the new vendor, but you can also check to make sure that all the existing rules are still necessary.
Alert to Lock-out
One great idea we’ve seen is a script that sends an email when any admin or service accounts are locked out of service. As some accounts are not active by users, and are automatically utilized by systems to check for updates for example, this means the right technician always knows if there is a problem.
Automate Load Balancing
All MSPs and IT service providers understand that manually balancing loads can cause issues when it comes to the performance of your applications, and stop failover occurring at speed when there are any challenges with the network. In contrast though, automating the balancing of application loads can improve reliability and ensure peak performance.
Many companies will automate the opening of tickets, but what about the closing of them, too? One example would be to use historical information to check against similar ticket requests, and then suggest actionable recommendations that can automatically fix the problems and alert the customer, too. Imagine coming to work in the morning and seeing that the answers have been given while you were sleeping, freeing you up to do much higher-value tasks.
Another great one to automate is finding out if there are any discrepancies between your configuration templates and the actual network configuration. For example, you might want to drill down to snippets such as NTP (Network Time Protocol) or SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) and administrator logins, or look at Border Gateway Protocol. These kinds of automations are pretty risk-free as they only report back, rather than make any active changes to the network.
In some cases, network automation can also help with troubleshooting, giving you a clearer view of what’s happening across your own, or your clients’ environments. These kinds of network automation scripts will deploy tasks like show run, and then differentiate against the last few configurations stored in your backup. They compare the interface status with what the correct status should be, then then report back any state changes or errors. They can be used to run across every device in the same group, saving a whole of time and manual effort.
Getting Network Automation-Excited?
According to Juniper Research, businesses that implement network automation out-perform those who do not. If you’ve been holding back on implementing network automation scripts, a great place to start is the Atera shared script library. Our scripts are all contributed by our amazing Atera community, QA’d and vetted by the Atera team, and ready to be deployed in your environment in just a few simple steps.