With the combined challenges of tight IT budgets and scarcer technical talent, it’s becoming imperative for enterprise network pros to embrace automation of processes and the way infrastructure responds to changing network traffic.

Not only can automation help address these problems, they can also improve overall application-response time by anticipating and addressing looming congestion. Modern applications, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and architectures that incorporate IoT and hybrid cloud have yet to reach their true potential because network capacity seems to always lag behind demand.

A common problem is that too much networking infrastructure is still manually maintained and managed, but major vendors are starting to addressing these issues, as are startups that seek to break bottlenecks through automation.

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The average network is a collection of configuration settings that exist in their own little island. They interact with each other and create situations where that interaction causes systemic issues in other places. Half of the job of a network engineer is figuring out those interactions and anticipating how they will impact other parts of the steady-state machine that we build to operate our applications. It’s hard enough to learn where all the switches are. Asking for anything more complicated is taxing for any engineer.

With the rise of networks that need to be more reliable for things like cloud applications and important use cases for financial or medical, it’s not enough to guess about the network state any longer. We can’t just hope that a configuration was done and that it was made in such a way as to lessen the impact on other systems. We can’t wish that things were configured correctly. We have to go one step further and actually verify that everything is done correctly. Adding that verification step into our routine is a source of contention, though. It’s a lot of extra work. It requires extra steps to get the information and make sure it’s accurate. It’s not what the standard network was built to provide. There needs to be a better tool out there to give us the info we need.

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