Importance of a Network Automation Tool in Network World

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Today’s network world has become immensely complex with newer technologies, changing organizational requirements, and stricter compliance standards. All these things point to the importance of having a network automation tool.

Network administrators ensure that newer innovations do not ultimately disadvantage end users. But this job is tedious, costly, and prone to critical human errors, making a network automation tool indispensable.

importance of network automation tool

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Importance of a network automation tool

Seamless configuration management is made easy with a network automation tool. A network automation tool:

  • Reduces mundane tasks as well as human errors.
  • Provides holistic control over vital configurations.
  • Provides real-time tracking and reverting of unwanted or unauthorized changes.
  • Reduces security risks with automated compliance management.
  • Saves devices’ firmware from vulnerabilities.

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Reduces mundane tasks as well as human errors

Specific tasks are repetitive in a network environment, such as regular configuration backups or configuring firewalls. Many organizations do these manually, and a single human error can immediately bring down an entire organization.

For example, suppose a backup operation needs to be performed daily at a particular time for a particular device. In that case, keeping track of a network environment of 10,000 devices can be challenging.

Instead, this task can be automated with a network automation tool via scheduling, freeing up network admins to take care of other tasks rather than being stuck for hours on one.

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Provides holistic control over vital configurations

To have an effective network automation environment, you must implement a network configuration and change management (NCCM) solution, a network automation software. Some of the benefits of an NCCM are:

  • Automated inventory management.
  • Unified and customizable dashboard.
  • A disaster-free environment with a configuration backup facility.
  • Remote upgrade facility.

Provides real-time tracking and reverting of unwanted or unauthorized changes

If left untracked, network changes or configuration changes can lead to disasters such as sudden network downtime, vulnerable security, and poor network or device performance.

To avoid these, network admins need to track all network-related changes in real-time so they will know the who, what, and when of configuration changes. This can be performed using a network automation tool, which helps by:

  • Tracking real-time changes and alerting on any change made in the network environment via notifications.
  • Providing the option of accepting or rejecting any changes.
  • Providing the option of versioning and labeling to easily keep track of the baseline version and apply it during downtime.

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Reduces security risks with automated compliance management

For network admins, security is a critical concern. Failure to comply with any compliance regulations could mean that your entire network organization is at risk of security breaches, loss of reputation, and hefty fines.

With a proper network automation tool, you can stay ahead of any security issues, including non-compliance.

You can automate non-compliance tasks with automation templates or regularly carry out compliance checks.

Some network automation tools also provide compliance reports, giving real-time data on your organization’s compliance status.

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Saves device firmware from vulnerabilities

In a vast network environment with over 10,000 devices, it is difficult to keep track of every device’s firmware for vulnerabilities. A firmware vulnerability could cause a device to malfunction or could pave the way for hackers to steal credentials. Real-time firmware vulnerability management is critical for a vast network environment.

A network automation tool keeps track of firmware vulnerabilities by automatically generating data regarding vulnerability, including which devices are affected and their service patch mentioned with a CVE ID. This way, you can easily see vulnerable devices and immediately fix them.

ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager: Your network automation tool for complex network environments.

ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager is a multi-vendor network configuration and change management tool. Some of the essential features of Network Configuration Manager include:

  • Configuration backup
  • Change management
  • Compliance management
  • Automation using Configlets
  • Firmware vulnerability management

manageengine network configuration manager

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Configuration backup

With Network Configuration Manager’s backup feature, you can easily take backups of configurations and use them during a sudden network downtime to revive your organization immediately. The three types of backup provided are:

Manual: Click on the devices that require backup and select Backup. This will instantaneously back up the selected device’s configurations.

Scheduled: If you do not want to take backup immediately, you can have a scheduled backup according to your need of date and time. This works best for devices that require constant backups, such as firewalls.

Automated: Network Configuration Manager constantly listens to the syslog messages from the devices to identify a change. Once a change is identified, the network backup software or Network Configuration Manager automatically triggers a configuration backup. If there’s no change, the backup is discarded.

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Change management

With Network Configuration Manager as your network automation tool, you can easily keep track of real-time configuration changes. Some of the facilities inside Network Configuration Manager’s change management feature are:

Real-time change notifications: Receive instant notifications whenever a change is made via various mediums such as email, SNMP trap, syslog, and as a ticket.

Role-based access control: Network Configuration Manager provides network admins with a higher level of authority, and they can choose to accept or reject a change made by operators. They can also assign specific devices or device groups to operators, limiting usage and errors.

Diff View: It is tough to do manually if you are a network admin needing to compare different configurations of different devices simultaneously. With Network Configuration Manager’s Diff View, you can compare two configurations of the same device or two configurations of different devices side by side. The differences are color-coded for better readability.

Rollback: With this option, you can instantly roll back to the previous stable version whenever an unauthorized change is made.

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Compliance management

Network Configuration Manager provides four default policies, or you can create your policies from scratch. The four policies are:

  • PCI DSS: An information security standard mandated for the credit card industry, created to increase controls around cardholder data to reduce credit card fraud.
  • SOX: A United States federal law that mandates corporations’ financial record keeping and reporting practices. Some provisions apply to privately held organizations.
  • HIPAA: This United States federal statute was enacted in 1996 but amended several times. It addresses five specific areas, including security and privacy policies surrounding electronic healthcare information systems and protected patient information.
  • Cisco IOS policy-based routing: This process ensures that Cisco devices that might be adapted to address potential cyberattacks comply with the industry’s network security standards.

There is also a separate report for compliance to keep track of compliance status for all devices and fix non-compliance issues quickly with automation templates called remediation configlets.

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Automation using Configlets

In a large network environment, manual labor is hectic and can lead to severe critical errors. Therefore, automation is the only way to be efficient and error-free.

Network Configuration Manager provides script templates called configlets that can be executed for various automation-related purposes, such as enabling SNMP in all devices, changing passwords of all devices, and fixing non-compliance (remediation configlet).

Firmware vulnerability management

All the devices in a network environment must be safe and secure from malicious attacks and threats. To ensure this, devices must frequently be monitored, especially the devices’ firmware.

Network Configuration Manager has a built-in firmware vulnerability management feature that provides all the details of devices and their vulnerability. This information also contains site links and download patches to fix the vulnerability, clearly mentioned with a unique CVE ID. Vulnerabilities are categorized by severity according to the base score:

  • Base score 9.0–10: Critical
  • Base score 7.0–8.9: Important
  • Base score 4.0–6.9: Moderate
  • Base score 0–3.9: Low

Download Network Configuration Manager and enjoy all the perks of network automation with our 30-day free trial.

You can also try our free online demo for in-product experience and knowledge.