Network automation is an essential part of optimizing your data center, but too many IT teams are stuck in a rut when it comes to manual data collection. This is according to new survey results provided by Enterprise Management Associates.
Almost half, or 48%, noted that their data center automation tools demand at least some manual data collection. To clarify, manual data collection can come in many forms, but consider this example: a network administrator wants to make a change in their automation. They must check compliance standards for network device configurations, then they may need to look into their IP address management solution (IPAM) to locate a new IP address for a new device they are connecting to the network.
After this, there is a full review of inventory and topology data so that they know the location of the device that requires automating. Then they will access the database of security policies to ensure the change won’t create additional risk. Finally, they may require operational data, including network flows and metrics for devices, that are helpful in understanding current network conditions.
In many situations, all of this information is being collected manually before a change to the network can be made. And it’s not just with small businesses – multi-billion-dollar corporations are dealing with these challenges in their data centers. The solution for many is to revert to spreadsheets.
Network Automation Shouldn’t Be Slow and Full of Errors
If your network team is being forced to search and then copy-and-paste data, you can count on there being a delay in automation and an increased risk of errors.
Among the 359 people surveyed, 51% agreed that manual data collection negatively affects data center automation. While 56% said that it just takes too long, removing some of the efficiency benefit that automation promises.
Visibility is also a problem. Almost 45% of respondents said that they can’t verify the changes they put into network automation or can’t see them. They can’t verify that the change they implemented is happening or whether it has had any negative impact on how the network and data center are operating.
There are concerns around security, with 41% saying that manual data handling opens up new vulnerabilities, either through mistakes or a lack of visibility. And 35% of respondents said that manual data collection is leading to performance degradation.
Creating a Source of Truth for the Network
When planning strategies for data center network automation, consider how to establish what will be the final authority on network data. This will require you to establish one or multiple locations that will be the source of authority for information about the state and intent of the network. It can also be integrated into your automation features so that all data is contained within a console or two.
When choosing a network automation tool, look for a provider that offers a native source of truth in the platform. Other providers integrate with a popular source of truth such as the IPAM solution.
Data collection may never be 100% automated, but with the right approach and a reliable source of truth, you can minimize the data management that is hindering your network automation. Contact us at Independent Connections for more information.