September 22, 2022

Relieve Anxiety Related to Universal Network Setup (Readers Forum)

Managing network configuration can be a daunting task for IT organizations. They often struggle to enforce effective processes. Unfortunately, the automation capabilities of existing tools for IT managers and network engineers are limited, forcing engineers to make manual remedial changes through the command line interface (CLI). This backlog of manual processes can lead to errors and complicate what is already a complex and time-consuming endeavor.

A recent report shows that only 34% of network management professionals are completely satisfied with the tools and processes they use for network configuration management – a tumultuous setup for the coming year. Three in four other IT organizations are at least somewhat concerned that their configuration management process is causing errors that could lead to security or performance issues. These mistakes can strike any organization, even those with a world-class reputation for network operations. In October 2021, Facebook suffered a global Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp outage that lasted more than seven hours. Facebook publicly attributed the outage to a bad network configuration change. In fact, EMA research found that 25.6% of all network service outages and degradations were caused by manual configuration errors.

To ensure that network changes are performed correctly, organizations should seek to overcome barriers associated with IT / engineering modernization, configuration compliance, and network complexity.

Understand the needs of network employees and IT management

Members of traditional infrastructure teams, such as network architecture, network engineering, and information security, are more likely to be satisfied with the tools and processes they use for business management processes. network configuration. That said, members of the application development, cloud architecture, and data center operations teams are less satisfied. This contrast suggests that traditional network engineers are comfortable with their existing processes. However, DevOps and cloud professionals want network configuration management to be faster, more agile, and more predictable.

It’s not surprising. Over the past few years, senior executives and senior managers have struggled to tie their business goals to investments in internal infrastructure management and, as a result, have delayed the modernization of their IT / engineering departments. . With network engineers still operating in the same mindset as when they entered the industry, they have continued to value their contributions based on individual orders (serving as modern heroes by solving IT problems on a case-by-case basis) compared to use develop new strategies. Network engineers should be encouraged to adopt innovative cloud programs / technologies as part of their “value creation” contributions, which will move closer to overall business success.

Adopt configuration compliance

Most IT organizations know that their network configuration management processes need improvement. They know they are at risk for fatal mistakes. The question is, how can this be resolved? Configuration compliance is an essential starting point. Network engineers and architects generally know the intent of their network. They know how they want the network to behave and what network and security policies they want to enforce, but they are not sure that all the infrastructure is configured to reflect that intention.

Overall, a lack of trust from the data center to the cloud and down to the access layer is alarming. Failure to comply in any one area can impact the performance and security of other areas. In response, network managers should impose end-to-end configuration compliance checks to avoid material errors. Determining if the network is compliant requires a series of configuration checks at regular intervals for each device on the network, and the result of these checks should be reported to the team so that any issues can be resolved. Without automation, this is a real challenge for a business due to the large number of devices it manages and the frequency with which these checks must be performed.

Evaluate the sources of network complexity

Network complexity impacts the efficiency of network configuration management. With more devices under management, changes can take longer and become more error-prone. The EMA found that 31% of IT organizations view the shortage of skilled network personnel as a major challenge for network operations, making it the second challenge to the overall success of NetOps. This same research found that the number five and number six challenges to NetOps success were a lack of a defined process (22%) and a lack of change management controls (21%).

The onset of the pandemic has accelerated the inevitable shift towards digital transformation, pushing organizations further on this journey in a shorter period of time than expected. Unfortunately, this means that the networks are not being managed as they should be. Taking action now to implement appropriate configuration management changes will help mitigate configuration errors due to network complexity and properly prepare organizations for the future as they adapt to a changing world. more and more connected.

Network configuration management will be a constant source of anxiety and confusion if infrastructure, configuration compliance, and network complexity issues are not addressed. Only with the right tools and strategies can the fragmented network be managed properly to further support organizational growth.

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