IT ops and engineering are embracing automation to increase business agility

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Based on a survey of nearly 700 engineering and operations individuals globally, a report by Indeni and GNS3 reveals a programming knowledge gap that is having an impact on the productivity of businesses surveyed, putting network availability at risk.

embracing automation

Knowledge gaps and productivity challenges

Individuals surveyed identify creating, parsing, and analyzing scripts as the biggest gaps in their knowledge for managing network and security efforts. Due to a lack of programming experience, individuals surveyed spend over 60% of their time on repetitive support and troubleshooting activities and less time contributing to strategic initiatives.

To counter these productivity challenges, an emerging percentage of organizations surveyed (27%) are adopting runbooks, or dynamic documentation, and finding increased effectiveness (82%). Runbooks serve as a living database of best practices for everything from performing routine maintenance tasks and demonstrating compliance to reducing attack surfaces and ensuring that vendor-documented best practices are in place.

The top two barriers to runbook adoption indicated by survey respondents are that employees do not follow steps or knowledge is not documented in the first place. As a result, organizations are looking for ways to automate creation and improve consumption of these best practices to reduce human error, improve performance, and lower cost.

Automation is a necessity to keep the business running

Senior leaders, IT operations, and network engineers agree automation is a priority to keep the lights on as 68% of automation projects are commissioned to maintain network availability:

  • 71% of organizations are implementing automation to increase productivity, 68% to reduce cost
  • 68% of IT projects leading to automation implementation are focused on Network Availability
  • Talent for automation initiatives (57%) and existing network management responsibilities (50%) are preventing implementation of automation.

embracing automation

Programming knowledge needed

NetOps and SecOps are uniquely challenged as the devices they manage —firewalls, routers, and switches—have various operating systems and lack standardized programming interfaces. As a result, IT professionals are forced to use CLI commands to find answers to troubleshooting issues, as opposed to the programmatic methods by used their server operations counterparts.

Manual tasks reduce not only the amount of time available to proactively validate the network infrastructure is operating as intended, but also the time needed for training to advance the skill sets of those in charge of the network.

Three largest knowledge gaps reported by IT operations include:

  • How to create scripts/what commands to use to extract data
  • How to parse data returned from scripts
  • How to process and analyze device data.

Only 27% of organizations surveyed use runbooks; 82% of those that use runbooks find them effective. Top two barriers to runbook / best practice adoption are lack of knowledge recorded and lack of consumption by employees. 75% of individuals surveyed plan on completing a network certification in 2018.

“Lack of knowledge around scripting and automation is one of the biggest threats to business agility today, as humans cannot keep up with the pace of technology change on the network,” said Yoni Leitersdorf, CEO at Indeni. “In order to improve productivity, lower cost, and support major business initiatives such as data center expansions, we’re seeing our customers increasingly invest in and benefit from a crowdsourced approach to automation.”