Building network automation solutions

9 module online course

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Don't Let the Automation Snowflakes Stop You

You know that time of year when snowflakes mean more than description of uniqueness of your networking infrastructure? Some people love to complain about that season and how the weather hinders them, others put on sturdy winter boots and down jackets, change tires on their car, and have tons of fun.

Network automation is no different. Sometimes you can persuade your peers that it makes sense to simplify and standardize the infrastructure to make it easier to abstract and automate (consider that an equivalent of going to a tropic island with shiny beaches and everlasting summer), other times you have to take out your winter boots and make the best out of what you got.

Some people have a hard time with that. Here’s what an anonymous commenter wrote on my No Prior Scripting Knowledge Required blog post:

We're still struggling at the "simplify phase". Once we're past that we go to the "standardize phase" (hopefully within the next 10 years). So no automation/programming at the moment.

Assuming you can’t get rid of any of the current complexity and uniqueness, there’s still tons of things you can do:

  • Use automation to extract data from the network and create reports you couldn’t get from your network management system. Some people collect MAC and ARP tables to be able to track the hosts… add time-series database to that and you have a complete history of changes in your virtualized environment. Others extract optical transceiver levels from diagnostic printouts to detect failings cables, or draw diagrams of multicast distribution trees. The opportunities are limitless;
  • Manage configuration inconsistencies - use automation to make sure at least common parts of device configurations don’t diverge too much. It could be as easy as ensuring all devices have the same admin users and timezone configured.
  • Keep a track of configuration changes and manage device configurations like you would manage any other code - also known as GitOps.

We cover all these scenarios and many others in the Building Network Automation Solutions online course. Don’t feel ready to join the course? The Ansible for Networking Engineers webinar that’s part of Standard subscription will get you started… but you’ll miss the bigger picture and breadth of tools covered in the automation course.


  1. For someone who needs to solve real problems the automation is one of the tool to use.
    You do not have to tell him "please use the automation" because you should do it.

    Whenever I was involved in really difficult problem with distributed system (complex network) the python programming to collect data in the right moment was a must.
    No alternative than automation.

    So I think you cannot make someone to use automation because automation is good. I think it should be driven by real needs (economic, complex problem to handle, etc)
    1. Otherwise it looks like we have a solution and trying to find a problem to solve;)
  2. Your 3 suggestions are well meant but that's to little nowadays. Believe it or not: the enterprise data center network gets more and more compared to cloud provider networks. The management expects a nice REST API with the same feature set like in the cloud because they invested in training of their employees and send them to your course. Excuses are not allowed. The only question is: when is the API ready?
  3. One of the key elements of IOS XE is the support of open, standards-based data models both for configuration and operational data that is a fundamental piece needed for scaling of controller-based architectures. These data models are exposed through standards-based API interfaces in a variety of broadly understood data representations, and are available for consumption by any external entity. These APIs are essentially the “currency” for the new Era of Networking!


    Learning Module, “Home Lab: Setting up Your Desktop OS for Network Programmability”

    Firepower Programmable APIs for Developers. Learn about them
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