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Since the beginning of the ICT industry, automation has always been a key topic. Actually, it is what it is all about. Each basic computing element or a set of computing elements (remember ENIAC?) is based on and used for automation.
The need for automation comes down to the magic triangle: Time – Cost - Quality
You simply want quick resolution times, reduce operating costs and improve quality. Plus, in constant-evolution mode you don’t want to spend resources on existing stuff, but to move on and on.
Networks (like organizations) have their development circles. They develop, split in layers and technologies and then they merge and harmonise into a single system and so on. This is where automation jumps in.
It all starts with basic functions like suppressing. From time to time, network gets flooded with a bunch of events stating a particular status (i.e. incident). So, in order to make it clear and readable, these events should be compressed into one. Normally those events come from different sources, so, obviously you need some correlation and based on certain rules you can merge them all into one. And there you go. Welcome to the 20th century!
But since we are almost 2 decades in the 21st century, aims and capabilities are much higher. So, we continue by reactivity, which when simplified, means to automatically react on certain event/s. Here, things become a bit more complex. Risks as well as benefits are getting higher.
And then, we come to machine learning and AI, which is probably the closest to full automation as we can get. Few key factors for the success of this stage are the number of sources, quality of information you get from those sources, and finally algorithms.
"The need for automation comes down to the magic triangle: Time – Cost – Quality"
Side effect is actually “what should you do?” or “you should have already done it”. Two basic things that should be in order are the inventory and processes. Basically it is the “what and how”. And many operators are struggling with these two. Maybe the value that automation is bringing is big enough a push to fix these two.
By automating more processes and events in your network, the shadow of control or risks becomes higher or should we say darker? “What if?” becomes more and more significant. What if logic kills another and makes collateral damage to the other one? And brings disasters at the end. To reduce risks, a simple “test and validate” should help a lot. One of the solutions is centralised automation repository. However, it works only if you are lucky enough to have
a centralised solution for all domains across your network and services. But, that is a story for another article.
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