Building network automation solutions

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Network Automation in Enterprise environments: pipe dream or reality?

When I talk about network automation with enterprise engineers I usually get responses along the lines of “That’s interesting, but it will never happen in my organization. That’s what startups or cloud providers do.

They couldn’t be more wrong: Thomas Wacker from UBS (one of the top 20 global financial services companies in case you don’t recognize the name) will describe how UBS uses network automation in new data center deployments during our Network Automation DIGS SDN event on September 1st, and we’ll spend the rest of the afternoon focusing on how you could get started and what your first network automation project should be.

I’ll go in even more details during the Network Automation Workshop on September 20th. The Ansible Networking Modules section of that workshop covers these scenarios:

  • Standardizing configurations and deploying them on common network devices;
  • Dynamically changing network device configurations;
  • Verifying software versions;
  • Collecting operational data (the example uses ARP tables) from network devices;
  • Automatically gathering data related to a troubleshooting ticket;
  • Performing automated post-deployment tests.

I'm looking forward to meeting you in Zurich and/or Ljubljana!

Hint: you might want to register for the workshop on web site (they’re organizing the event) as they have a bit lower price in EUR.


  1. All the time we talk about organizational structure preventing automation from happening, but most of the time engineers hold part of the guilt.
    1. Of course you're right. However, sometimes you have to change the perception of what's possible first, or the engineers won't even consider thinking about the alternatives.
  2. Ivan:
    What do yuo think is the feasibility of each enterprise with multi vendor network environment being able to implement automation using platforms like Ansible or some other equivalent esp when it comes to complex scenerios like Application Delivery etc which involves too many flavors with both Physical and Virtual form factors?
  3. I turned up a private cloud this weekend using Ansible by myself. 160 subnets, 30 devices, 1,500+ lines of configuration. Not a massive build, but I can scale as needed. You just have to have the right pieces in place. I work for a very large enterprise; no startup sauce around here.
  4. @crzdriver thanks for yuor respnose. Would you mind elaborating bit more on vendor mix for these 30 devics ? Some of the environments I am looking at have around 2000-3000 devices and 6-7 vendors for various fucntions and 15-20 different device platform from those vendors. I am trying to understand what all environments can Ansible scale upto and what would be an idea environment enterprises should be looking at more enterprise grade automation/orchestration platforms while keeping in mind that platform allows extensibility.
  5. 2 platforms, compute fabric, cookie-cutter, rinse-and-repeat. You're trying to boil the ocean. Our data centers are large-scale as well, and I'd never get anything done if I worried about automating the whole blasted thing. Using that as an excuse for an enterprise to not adopt automation is like saying you won't adopt cloud because you still need bare-metal workloads. It's an asinine argument at best. Out of your 3K devices that you manage each day, do you find things that you do over, and over, and over again? Cool, automate it. Ansible doesn't support that platform? Learn how to use telnetlib and Paramiko (as an aside, 90% of my tasks were in templates which are universal). Ansible doesn't have a module to do x, y, and z? Even better, write a [python/c/java/go/pascal] module to perform the task, and use Ansible to call it over a list of hosts. This isn't about Ansible or any other automation tool. It's about your perception on how you do your job. It's about scaling yourself as a network engineer. I'm not going to waste my time trying to write scripts for a one-off build. But if something comes across my desk that is repeatable or needs to be absolutely consistent, it needs to be done with software. Ivan said this webinar is to get you "started on your first network automation" project. I doubt his "hello world" of network automation is to script large-scale brownfield infrastructure build with microservices and unicorn tears. :)
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