Network Automation Success Requires Dedicated Developers

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Network automation developers assure automation software is installed correctly and automated processes function properly.

As organizations continue looking for ways to streamline outdated workplace processes, more are turning to network automation to simplify data center management. But without an automation developer, these efforts are unlikely to be fully successful.

Driven by advances in machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT), the network automation market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 43% through 2027. Yet too many organizations haven’t aligned their IT initiatives with their business strategies.

Rather than viewing automation simply to reduce organizational resources, IT leaders should instead focus on driving efficiency, which frees up resources for more strategic use across the business. However, integrating network automation goals with the goals of the business requires an expert with a mix of both skillsets: an automation engineer.

The growing need for network automation automation developers

The use of automation was already increasing across industries as serverless computing and low-code and no-code tools gained popularity in recent years. But the global pandemic forced many enterprises to speed up digital transformation initiatives to better facilitate remote work, remain agile and build resiliency. Already common in certain industries like manufacturing, automation is now expected to accelerate in the corporate sector.

Many companies were quick to embrace the changes brought on by the pandemic, turning to technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) to automate manual and repetitive tasks such as record keeping. Others have invested in more complex automation solutions to streamline the design, build, deployment, and operation of their networks.

Business leaders are increasingly recognizing network automation’s ability to eliminate repetitive IT tasks, so teams can focus on innovation and growth for the business instead.

Intent-Based Networking, for example, automatically fulfills IT services by intelligently generating and deploying full configuration across devices and providing continuous assurance checks.

Yet while there are plenty of network automation software solutions available on the market today, those solutions can only go so far without the right implementation and strategic vision. A specific process can be automated a thousand times, but that doesn’t mean the process was automated correctly.

That’s where network automation developers come in.

Network automation developers assure automation software, including customized solutions for unique business needs, is installed correctly and automated processes function properly. These skilled engineers are responsible for ensuring automation benefits for the company’s bottom line, from Day 0 to Day 2, through continuous optimization of internal operations. Intelligent automation that aligns with the strategic goals of the business is critical to the long-term success of transformation efforts.

While the types of tasks that can be automated will depend on a company’s operations and goals, common examples include customer experience (CX) system response tasks, data filtration, and data verification. Historically, these tasks can take days or weeks when performed manually. With automation, customer responses and data points can be checked in real time, reducing the total time it takes to complete these tedious tasks to a matter of minutes or even seconds.

Data has increasingly shown how much automation can reduce the costs of conducting technological operations in a business. Intelligent automation typically results in long-term cost savings of up to 75%. While establishing an automation engineer role is an investment, the cost reduction in internal operations over the long run is well worth it to ensure the business is maximizing its automation solutions. And many companies already have the potential talent they need on staff.

The case for upskilling

Network automation developers specifically focus on automation efficiency and development within a comprehensive data network in a businesses’ digital infrastructure. A traditional IT specialist, on the other hand, is a more general role. Traditional IT specialists may not know, for example, how to customize code in network automation software for a business that needs to automate a repetitive but complicated task in its data network. That said, existing IT specialists within an organization can be upskilled to meet these needs.

By investing in current employees, organizations can not only fill their need for an automation developer but also improve talent attraction and retention at a time when the IT skills gap still afflicts 80% of U.S. managers. With network automation, IT specialists are freed up to focus on more strategic functions for the business instead of mundane network tasks and the day-to-day IT firefighting typical to their roles. And by creating a path for career growth, IT employees will be happier and more engaged on the job.

One of the major benefits of upskilling is that employees who already know the business are better positioned to implement IT strategies that align with the company’s overall goals.

However, organizations will need to identify potential employees who have an aptitude for the network automation engineer role, which requires a mix of business acumen and technical expertise. Network automation developers should have:

  • Working knowledge of the company’s systems, networks, hardware, and software
  • Communication and collaboration skills to work with other departments and clients
  • Proficiency in specific programming languages needed for the industry
  • Leadership skills to gain employee and C-suite buy-in
  • Experience with analytics, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and process automation
  • Project management and problem-solving capabilities to see initiatives through to completion

The network automation developer will play an ongoing role in the organization as technology continues to evolve, the marketplace adapts, and the needs of the business shift over time. But even if an employee is found who checks off all the above boxes, they can only accomplish so much without a seat at the table.

As roles like chief automation officer become more popular, enterprise leaders should prepare now for IT to play a much more significant role in business transformation.

Zack Zilakakis

About Zack Zilakakis

Zack Zilakakis is Data Center Strategist at Juniper Networks and former Technical Evangelist at Apstra. He is an expert in data center IT operations and conducts consistent research on the best practices, technology updates, customer case studies, and competitive analysis in the industry. Zack works closely with industry leaders to help define vision, strategy, and execution in alignment with the latest industry trends and technological advancements.

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