What is the most valuable resource in network engineering? Possessing a complete and current inventory? Up-to-date and non-static documentation? It's safe to say that there are quite a few nominees in the category of 'Most Important Network Resource'.
The answer, however, should be obvious. It's the network engineers themselves. Yet despite the value they provide, many feel underappreciated and suffer burnout due to the repetitive demands placed on them. It's unfortunately the nature of network management.
We have heard plenty of horror stories from engineers, even some that now work with us on the vendor side - "I would arrive at work, only to focus 110% from the first minute of my shift on "firefighting tasks" that were mostly repetitive and manual", one engineer told us.
IP Fabric can help. In fact, the IP Fabric platform was founded with the aim of making life easier for network engineers. Let's take a look at the ways in which automated network assurance can help enterprises and engineers alike to save their efforts for what really matters.
When we think of 'everyday tasks' in networking operations, a few immediately spring to mind: Discovery, establishing end-to-end visibility, understanding network behavior and the impact of data flow, and documentation.
Manually performing these tasks is unfortunately still a reality for many engineers. Relying on static documentation is exacerbated by the fact that this documentation often becomes outdated shortly after completion.
With IP Fabric, engineers can finally take back time in their day by doing away with manual tasks - rapid CLI-based discovery via API, SSH or Telnet trivializes the process of creating end-to-end diagrams, reducing hours (or sometimes even days) of work into mere minutes. The resulting network diagrams can be updated according to a pre-defined schedule decided by the engineers themselves, leading to multiple benefits:
IP Fabric also saves engineers time by providing them with all of the information they need for planning (e.g.) end of lifecycle (EoL) and end of support (EoS) management for system components.
Before implementing IP Fabric, engineers would have to manually trawl their network, determine the assets at their disposal, and then determine the length of their validity. In a large-scale, complex enterprise network, this would consume far too much time.
During the IP Fabric discovery process, software and hardware state information, including EoL data is collected (after all, state information is one of the pillars of Network Assurance). This information is then presented in accessible tabular form, ensuring relevant information is conveniently consolidated for analysis. Gone are the days of building out and manually maintaining Excel spreadsheets for EoL!
The platform also includes vendor-suggested replacements where possible - thereby cutting more time out of planning processes and guaranteeing engineers always have the relevant resources at their disposal.
What if plans change? Not a problem! A snapshot can be run at any time an engineer needs. This information will always be up-to-date, and your engineers will be in the know with minimal effort required.
When faced with tight deadlines, burnout, or a lack of support, hiring new engineers is a logical step to lighten the load. But this can also make things worse, as these new hires need to be trained. With manual processes and "firefighting" to worry about, it can take months, or even years, to bring new engineers up-to-speed whilst balancing these daily tasks. This vicious cycle soon takes a toll on newcomers as well. Having to learn the network trough static documentation, whilst also focusing on repetitive tasks will stymie development and put newcomers in the same position as their experienced counterparts - burned out, stressed out, and stuck in a continuous circle of never-ending management tasks.
With IP Fabric in place, this issue can be avoided altogether. Providing newcomers with a holistic view of their network encompassing inventory, configurations and device state data allows them to ramp up their knowledge much quicker. The result? A better understanding of their network, greater enthusiasm, and a spark to their passion for innovation and automation.
This is something we've already seen in action with one of our customers, after they hired interns to gain some hands-on work experience in their networking team. Because of the holistic network view provided by IP Fabric, the interns were able to confidently and safely interact with the network and fix issues by themselves. One of these interns even returned to work there for more experience as a direct result of using IP Fabric.
With all of this manual effort removed from the network engineer's daily schedule, surely this means we can just replace engineers altogether with the platform, right? Not at all! Network Assurance from IP Fabric is the perfect complement to a network engineer. It gives them back time in their day to focus on a plethora of tasks more worthy of their valuable time - upskilling, learning, and introducing innovation into their network.
It's time to finally treat the most important resource for your networking operations with the care - and the tools - that they deserve.
Want to see how you can leverage IP Fabric to alleviate the strain on your networking teams? Try out our free, self-guided demo here. Prefer the personal touch? Get in touch to schedule a tailored demo with a member of our team here.
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