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Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent, No-Code Network Automation

Prepared for Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation April 2023 EMA White Paper By Shamus McGillicuddy, Vice President of Research Network Management

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation Table of Contents 1 Executive Summary 1 NetOps is at its Breaking Point 2 Network Automation is the Solution, but Widescale Usage Eludes Most NetOps Teams 3 Tactical Network Automation Scripts 4 Homegrown Network Automation Software 4 Commercial, Config-Centric Network Automation Software 5 No-Code, Intent-Aware Network Automation 5 The Value of Intent Awareness 6 The Value of No-Code Network Automation 7 NetBrain’s No-Code Solution 9 About NetBrain Technologies . 2

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation Executive Summary This paper explains why network teams can no longer rely on tactical, developer-dependent, script- heavy approaches to network operations. Instead, they should adopt simpler and more scalable no-code network automation that aligns with business outcomes. This paper also looks at the benefits such a solution can offer and reviews the capabilities of etrain, a pioneer in no-code, intent-driven network automation. NetOps is at its Breaking Point odern, digitally connected businesses demand more from their networks than ever, but network operations teams are struggling to deliver those services. These companies need networks that are more responsive to application needs. ompanies reuire a truly secure network with robust access controls. They expect an always-on network where human error is eliminated and unplanned down- time is a thing of the past. They want more visibility and control over cloud-hosted services. t the same time, most IT organi ations are trying to reduce operational overhead, meaning network teams need to deliver on all these reuirements with fewer resources. ­iven this list of reuirements, no one should be surprised that network operations teams are strug- gling to find a way forward. €rom ‚ƒ„… to ‚ƒ‚‚, the number of et†ps pros who believed their teams were successfully supporting their businesses declined from ‡ˆ‰ to ‚ˆ‰. In fact, Šnterprise anagement ssociates ‹ŠŒ research found that unplanned downtime remains rampant and mean time to resolution is lagging. €or example, end users experience and report Ž„‰ of all IT ser- „ vice problems before the et†ps team can detect them. y the time et†ps starts troubleshooting these issues, the business is already negatively impacted. €urthermore, Š research found that ‚ˆ‰ of all network trouble is caused by a manual admin- ‚ istrative error. ‘hen network admins are spending most of their time using ’I to manage device-level change, errors and unintended conseuences are all too common. lso, the freuency of human error increases as network teams expand the number of tools they use to manage their networks. €inally, “Ž‰ of the alerts generated by the average et†ps toolsets are false alarms. „ Š, “etwork anagement egatrends ‚ƒ‚‚,” pril ‚ƒ‚‚. ‚ I bid. . 1

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation Ž etwork teams waste too much time investigating alerts that are not actionable. s a † analyst with a private communications technology company told Š, “‘e don’t know which —alerts˜ to check out, so we have to check all of them to verify that they are false alarms.” IT leaders will be tempted to mitigate these problems by trying to hire more network engineers with advanced skillsets. The labor market will disappoint them. †nly „‚.“‰ of IT organi ations say it’s very easy to hire and retain people with network expertise, according to Š research. In particular, Žˆ‰ of organi ations say it is nearly impossible to find people with network security skills and Ž“‰ are strug- gling mightily to find people with network automation skills. lso, ‚™‰ say it is extremely hard to find ‡ experienced network troubleshooters. †rgani ations that succeed in hiring engineers with these skills will struggle to retain them, given the dynamics of today’s labor market. Šven if an IT organi ation can hire and retain skilled network engineers, fundamental problems will remain. €or instance, top-tier engineers will have a limited impact if network operations remain too manual. etwork teams need automation to reduce errors, drive efficiency, and proactively prevent trouble--all at scale. Network Automation is the Solution, but Widescale Usage Eludes Most NetOps Teams o-code network automation is an obvious solution for the problems that et†ps teams struggle with today. In fact, more than ˆ…‰ of network teams believe an enterprise network automation solu- tion can mitigate staffing issues.“ “The more you automate, the less human intervention is needed,” a network engineer with a €ortune “ƒƒ financial services company recently told Š. “›ou might have a gold standard that engineers created. It removes any typos and mistakes. †n the flipside, I’ve seen automation freeing up those engineers so they don’t have to track down an issue.” Ž Š, “etwork †bservabilityž Ÿelivering ctionable Insights to etwork †perations,” †ctober ‚ƒ‚‚. ‡ Š, “etwork anagement egatrends ‚ƒ‚‚,” pril ‚ƒ‚‚. “ I bid. . 2

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation ¡nfortunately, investments in traditional developer-based network automation do not always pay off. ‘hen Š asked experts to identify their biggest challenges with network automation, Ž¢.…‰ said they were sig- ¢ nificantly struggling with user adoption and trust. etwork teams simply don’t trust these tools because low-skilled admins find them too difficult to use and expert engineers believe manual processes are more effective. There are multiple paths that organi ations can take with network automation, and many of those paths are treacherous. Tactical Network Automation Scripts ost IT organi ations will build homegrown scripts to automate certain et†ps tasks. These scripts are one-off pieces of code that are extremely narrow in purpose and difficult to orchestrate into operational processes. etwork teams cannot reuse them across different network vendors’ platforms, and vendor software updates often break them. Thus, ongoing support of scripts is difficult. In fact, most engineers find it impractical to even share these scripts with their peers to accomplish related goals. £cripts are also highly reactive. etwork engineers run them in reaction to a specific task or event after they’ve had time to analy e a problem. Thus, scripts’ abilities to drive operational efficiencies are lim- ited. £ome network teams plug scripts into their monitoring tools to trigger automated troubleshooting of common problems. €or instance, if monitoring tools detect indicators that a router is flapping, they can trigger a script to restart the router. ¡nfortunately, ‡¢‰ of network teams say that when they customi e their network monitoring tools in this way, it can drive up costs. ¡sing such primitive auto- mation can yield unpredictable results. lso, Ž™‰ say it negatively impacts usability of the tool, Ž…‰ ˆ say it delays time to value, and Ž¢‰ say it reduces tool effectiveness. s one network tools engineer with a €ortune “ƒƒ technology company recently told Š, “¡nless you have someone full-time to continuously adapt a tool to your network, insights are overlooked or not developed, and that leads to disappointment and management uestions about whether they are getting value from an investment.” ¢ Š, “The €uture of Ÿata enter etwork utomation,” €ebruary ‚ƒ‚‚. . 3 ˆ Š, “etwork †bservabilityž Ÿelivering ctionable Insights to etwork †perations,” †ctober ‚ƒ‚Ž.

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation Homegrown Network Automation Software lternatively, there is the homegrown software approach. any IT organi ations will build their own network automation software, often using multiple open source tools at the core. In fact, ¢“‰ of network teams say at least part of their network automation budgets are spent on homegrown software devel- opment.… This approach can delay time to value because it can take years to develop a full-featured solution. There is also tremendous risk that, after years of development, a homegrown solution will be too rigid and unable to adapt to changing reuirements, ultimately failing to meet the needs of an organi ation. ¤omegrown software is also dependent on developer expertise. n organi ation must retain the people who wrote the software or they will struggle to maintain and support the tool. In fact, Š research found that the more an organi ation relies on homegrown software, the less satisfied it is with its net- work automation strategy. Commercial, Config-Centric Network Automation Software any enterprises also adopt commercial network automation tools, such as network change and con- figuration management and infrastructure as code. These tools generally automate configuration management and help with change management and compliance, but they have limited impact on the rest of network operations over the lifespan of an infrastructure. They focus on device-level man- agement and provisioning. ost concerning, they cannot articulate how automated changes will impact the performance, security, and uality of business service delivery. In fact, ‡ƒ‰ of et†ps teams have network automation tools that are seriously challenged by a lack of visibility and con- textuali ation of network services, which prevents engineers and admins from understanding how ™ automated changes will affect application behavior and performance. “›ou can push configurations to thousands of boxes, but if that configuration is wrong, you’ve cre- ated one hell of an outage,” a network architect with a €ortune “ƒƒ consulting company told Š. £ervice delivery should be the goal of network automation, not device management. … Š, “etwork †bservabilityž Ÿelivering ctionable Insights to etwork †perations,” †ctober ‚ƒ‚Ž. ™ Š, “The €uture of Ÿata enter etwork utomation,” €ebruary ‚ƒ‚‚. . 4

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation €urthermore, many of these tools reuire scripting and programming expertise, which remain hard to find. These coding reuirements can negatively impact scalability of automation and don’t address other use cases, such as network troubleshooting. €inally, if a network infrastructure vendor provides any tool, Š has seen that it will have limited support of other vendors’ products, which will render it less useful in today’s multi-vendor, multi-cloud hybrid networks. Šach of these approaches to network automation can provide value, but they reuire heavy lifting. etwork teams must maintain teams of experts that can maintain them and update them when new features and functionalities are needed. lso, many of them are geared toward highly skilled users, and admins with less advanced networking skills cannot use them. Thus, commercial tools have only a moderate impact on network operations, while developer-led homegrown solutions and scripting often fail to deliver a return on investment—and many are abandoned. No-Code, Intent-Aware Network Automation IT organi ations should ad¦ust their operational plan to be more strategic and forward-looking. They should leverage the combined knowledge and expertise of their own sub¦ect matter experts by adopting tools that take developers and coders out of the process and allow these experts to capture the application-centric intents of the business through no-code automation. This will allow users of network automation to clearly understand how to maintain the network in the context of criti- cal business services. In other words, organi ations should consider no-code, intent-aware network automation solutions. The Value of Intent Awareness etwork intent refers to the business logic and reuirements behind a network’s design. These intents define the performance, security, and connectivity needs of each application. Traditionally, network engineers attempt to translate this intent into individual network device configurations and scripts. £ince the intent is translated on a device-by-device basis, engineers can sometimes lose sight of the forest amongst the trees. †riginal intent is obscured, and all that remains is a set of decontextuali ed device configuration standards with no ongoing connection to current or evolv- ing business reuirements. . 5

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation n intent-aware network automation tool maintains an understanding of application needs and retains that business logic perspective even as it translates the logic to device-level configurations. £uch a tool allows IT organi ations to think about their networks from a service-centric perspective over the long haul ‹Ÿay-‚ operationsŒ. They can define how they want their networks to function, then manage the network in keeping with those intents over time and as change occurs. They can also dig deeper to define what each application needs from the network and impose wide-reaching policies that automat- ically enforce those reuirements, ensuring that network intent always matches the actual state of the network.„ƒ Š research found that ……‰ of IT organi ations believe that a network automation solution that can understand both network intent and network state simultaneously will be valuable to network operations. lso, …„‰ believe that an intent-aware network automation solution can be helpful with network monitoring and alerting, and …“‰ believe it can be helpful with network troubleshooting and remediation. The Value of No-Code Network Automation o-code solutions are designed to capture and translate network reuirements and engineer trouble- shooting steps into reusable logic that can be executed anywhere, anytime. §ather than configuring individual devices, an engineer enters intent logic into the tool. €or example, he or she can explic- itly define the amount of bandwidth that individual applications reuire from the network and what kinds of latency thresholds those applications can tolerate. The engineer can set security policies about which devices can allow certain traffic and which cannot. £uch a tool can then verify compli- ance with these intents at scale across the entire network in real time.  no-code solution can also capture knowledge from sub¦ect matter experts as they use it to trou- bleshoot other issues.  no-code solution documents the network engineer’s process in response to a given event. The tool can also maintain a library of these automated processes so that users of any skill level can leverage their peers’ expertise as needed and share their expertise with others. y capturing engineering expertise as automated workflows and making them available to anyone in IT, an organi ation can reduce ticket volumes and escalations for high-level engineers. The no-code approach can save that process as an automated workflow that anyone can reuse, auto- matically triggered if a similar event occurs in the future. o-code can also proactively execute continuously to look for conditions that deviate from design goals. „ƒ Š, “The €uture of Ÿata enter etwork utomation,” €ebruary ‚ƒ‚‚. . 6

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation ost importantly, these automated workflows can be replicated at scale across an entire network to lever- age the knowledge of the whole network engineering team. In other words, a no-code network automation solution does more than manage configurations and automate network design. It can automate network troubleshooting to reduce mean time to repair, main- taining the conditions that the business and its applications need. This is a critical reuirement today, with ˆ™‰ of network teams telling Š that they need a network automation solution that can auto- mate network troubleshooting and remediation. “‘hen something breaks, we want a seamless fix with automation. It should trigger an alert that triggers an automation script that checks issues, fixes the problem, and closes the ticket. I don’t see many tools that can do that,” said a network tools engineer with a €ortune “ƒƒ high-technology manufacturer. NetBrain’s No-Code Solution etrain Technologies offers a no-code network automation solution that addresses all the reuire- ments mentioned. It allows sub¦ect matter experts to articulate each of their individual lists of desired network intents, then compares those intents with the real-time network state at scale. ¡sing a dig- ital twin data model to capture the device, topology, traffic flow, and business intents of the entire network in real time, the platform ensures service delivery goals are met through more efficient oper- ations and compliance enforcement. etrain features a no-code console where sub¦ect matter experts can capture their proven network operations processes. The solution can orchestrate these processes for end-to-end troubleshooting and remediation with collaborative workflows across operations teams. It reengineers traditional remedial workflows and integrates with service management solutions, including IT£ and ¨ applications. £toring the automation centrally in a database, etrain can templati e and clone intents for any similar needs and devices across the entire network using replication. ¡sers can set automation to run continuously under certain conditions, then generate alerts and notifications and open tickets for anomalous events, security, and compliance issues to reduce incident volume and prevent business disruption. . 7

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation etrain offers a true end-to-end and real-time solution with support for multi-vendor and multi-cloud hybrid networks. ulti-cloud networking support is especially important. Šighty-four percent of network „„ teams say their organi ations will have a multi-cloud architecture by ‚ƒ‚‡. lso, Š research found „‚ that ˆ…‰ of network teams reuire their network automation tools to be extensible to the public cloud. etrain’s no-code network automation solution can apply to any network management scenario, including the most common essential network operations use casesž „. It enables no-risk change management in which it baselines and verifies network and applica- tion intent before committing a change. y running these checks, etrain removes the risk of unintended problems or accidental configuration overwrites when making a network change. ‚. utomated, event-triggered root-cause analysis gives network engineers automated insights into why a network problem occurred. These insights, which can be inserted into a ticket via IT£ integration, can accelerate mean time to repair. Ž. etrain enables problem prevention by proactively comparing real-time network status to the previously defined network intents, detecting anomalies and enabling problem remediation before a network outage or degradation occurs. ‡. etrain’s ability to understand application intents on the network enables application per- formance protection. The solution can proactively compare application performance intents against network state. It can verify, for instance, whether an application is taking the right path across the network and identify the performance of that path. “. etrain’s ability to codify and enforce security intents enables security compliance. ¡sers can set the solution to continuously enforce security policies and compliance mandates. €or instance, if a security architect wants to prevent certain ports from being open to traffic, the solution will continuously verify that the port policy is maintained. If the idea of a no-code, intent-aware network automation solution appeals to you, Š recom- mends that you evaluate etrain’s network automation platform. „„ Š, “etwork anagement egatrends ‚ƒ‚‚,” pril ‚ƒ‚‚. „‚ Š, “The €uture of Ÿata enter etwork utomation,” €ebruary ‚ƒ‚‚. . 8

EMA White Paper | Operational Efficiency at Scale with Intent-Based, No-Code Network Automation About NetBrain Technologies €ounded in ‚ƒƒ‡, etrain is the market leader for et†ps automation, providing network engineers with dynamic visibility across their hybrid networks and low-code©no-code automation for key tasks across IT workflows. Today, more than ‚,“ƒƒ of the world’s largest enterprises and managed service pro- viders use etrain to automate network documentation, accelerate troubleshooting, and strengthen network security—while integrating with a rich ecosystem of partners. etrain is headuartered in urlington, assachusetts, with locations in ’ondon, ¡nited ªingdom« unich, ­ermany« Toronto, anada« and ei¦ing, hina. €or more information, please visit www.NetBrain.com. . 9

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