4 Best Practices For Automating Your Network Management

4 Best Practices For Automating Your Network Management

This excerpt comes from a blog originally posted on MSP Insights

Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Equipment always breaks when you’re on vacation, often when the on-call engineer is as far away as possible, and with little useful information from the network management software (NMS).

 

It’s critical for a network to be available 100% of the time and always performing at 100%. Network management is a core component of IT infrastructure that is put in place to minimize disruptions, ensure high performance, and help businesses avoid security issues. Network architectures and networking products handle the brunt of the work, but management tools and technologies are essential for picking up the slack and allowing the shift from reactive to proactive strategies.

 

Network automation can automate repetitive tasks to improve efficiency and ensure consistency in network teams. Ultimately, automation will improve the meantime time to resolve (MTTR) and drive down the total cost of ownership (TCO). Network automation enables staff to gain process and configuration agility while maintaining compliance standards. It will help simplify your network and lower maintenance costs.

 

Save Time And Money With Automation

According to Gartner, “The undisputed number one cause of network outages is human error.” As humans, we all make mistakes, which is why businesses must have comprehensive automation in place. Automation can reduce the likelihood of issues being missed by ensuring consistency and reducing the need for tedious manual configuration. It also can save time, money and improve productivity. The following are four steps organizations can take to build a reliable and agile network through automation.

 

1. Implement Operation Process Automation (OPA)

OPA is about getting the right systems in place to automate repetitive operational tasks to improve efficiency and ensure consistency in operations teams. OPA delivers process automation specifically to IT and network operations teams. As well as emulating actions that network engineers take within a network management system, OPA also can perform advanced maintenance tasks, assist in the interpretation of network data, and communicate effectively with other digital systems to categorize, resolve, and escalate potential network issues. Ultimately, OPA is about improving the MTTR and decreasing the cost of operations.

 

2. Improve Configuration Management

When considering automation solutions to scale your business, a critical variable to consider is time saved through automation compared to the amount of time tasks take if performed manually. A significant amount of administration time is consumed managing configurations and firmware updates, which could be better spent on proactive tasks. Organizations looking to become more efficient should consider an automated network management tool that integrates configuration management to reduce the risk of human errors and enable easier implementation of network-wide changes. This concept is not new, and it is the fundamental basis of making impactful decisions on how your organization can scale.

 

3. Single View Multi-Vendor Support

Most networks are composed of elements from multiple manufacturers. This can create challenges when overseeing the elements of each management system. A better, more efficient approach is to find and deploy management tools that offer true multi-vendor support. This will reduce the number of tools needed for day-to-day tasks and eliminate the need for learning and maintaining multiple management tools, which will improve operational responsiveness and efficiency.

 

4. Policy-Based Management Systems

Many common network administration activities should be handled by the network management system automatically. These systems should not require repeated configuration but be configured through a policy that captures the business rules and ensures that devices are handled consistently. Automated device discovery and classification is another important aspect, automatically determining what the device is, what to monitor, and what type of alerts and events will be generated, all without human intervention.

 

Combining People And Process Automation

According to Forrester, 56% of global infrastructure technology decision-makers have implemented/are implementing or are expanding/upgrading their implementation of automation software. It’s important to note that automation does not mean the replacement of individuals. Instead, it can benefit IT workers, by transferring routine and tedious elements of managing networks to machine learning models that can reduce the noise from the vast number of alerts and notifications. For organizations that are looking to scale, a combination of people and process automation will yield the best results book a demo from our experts to learn more.

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How To Leave Work At 5 PM: Visibility, Event Management & Automation

How To Leave Work At 5 PM: Visibility, Event Management & Automation

This excerpt comes from a blog originally posted on Packetpushers.net

As organizations manage increasingly interdependent network infrastructure in an increasingly chaotic world, how can you, as a Network Operations professional, maintain control of your network without losing control of your time?

The answers are: network visibility, flexible event management, and powerful automation. All of this is possible within Opmantek’s network management platform. The software streamlines workflows and lets network engineers and operators accomplish more work with fewer distractions, allowing them to go home on time.

The Importance Of Visibility

We often hear from network engineers that they don’t know what devices are on the network or where they’re located. This lack of visibility introduces security risks and increases Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR). The ability to see as much of the network as possible on a single dashboard allows for fast response times when you and your team need them most.

The robust network visualization tools built into Opmantek’s opCharts and opEvents give you the ability to see a network and react in real-time to precisely what’s happening with confidence. That’s essential for daily operations and in emergencies. For example, did you know that storm-related outages cost the U.S. economy up to $55 billion every year? When a major storm like Hurricane Sandy blasts through your infrastructure overnight, you’ll be able to identify the points of failure and…READ ON.

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Packet Pushers: Detect, Diagnose, And Act Podcast

Packet Pushers: Detect, Diagnose, And Act Podcast


Podcast: Download (46.2MB)
Keith Sinclair, CTO and progenitor of NMIS, joins Greg Ferro on Packet Pushers

They discuss:

  • What NMIS does and how it works
  • Protocol support including SNMP, WMI, SSH, RESTful APIs, and more
  • The persistence of SNMP
  • Opmantek’s approach of detect, diagnose, and act
  • Automation capabilities
  • How NMIS uses dashboards, portals, and maps

Changes in the Wind at Opmantek

Changes in the Wind at Opmantek

Like every CEO, I was anxious at the beginning of COVID-19. How would that affect the business and staff? So we were expecting the worst and like many companies, we prepared the business and the team for change.

 

Fortunately, for us, just like many businesses, it afforded the team time to think about what they are doing, where they are heading, and what is and isn’t working for them. Just like us, many businesses revaluated their direction and operation. Out of that exploration came improvements to their processes and ways to reduce waste. Everyone got a bit smarter.

 

During 2020, we had a higher engagement than we expected from organisations that saw the importance of their networks and infrastructure. With more people relying on the business’s digital side to get work done and with IT staff working from home, network management became a primary focus for CEOs, CIOs, and CTOs. Heads of IT for all verticals had to ensure that their applications and supporting infrastructure were robust and no surprises. They had to now more than ever support their customers and provide the same level of support to their staff.

 

Network Management and Network Management improvements were no longer on the back burner. They are now front and centre.

 

More and more people were reaching out to us and talking to our teams around the world. Some of the largest organisations joined our family. They chose us as they trusted our team and software to deliver outstanding visibility of their networks and infrastructure, flexibility to fit their business process and great value. Organisations such as NextLink Internet out of Texas signed a 10-year agreement with us. NASA is using us for their next moon mission, Artemis. Only three members of Opmantek were born – yes, they were babies at the time – when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon. Now we all get to do a little bit to get the first Woman and next Man on the Moon, a great honour for all of us.

 

We are proud that we have built great software that our customers recognise as the best. However, what makes us all pleased is that our customers believe in our team.

 

Introducing Programmable Button Actions

Introducing Programmable Button Actions

Opmantek has long believed that Operational Process Automation is one of the foundational pillars that a successful network management strategy is built upon. One key piece to this is to ensure that actions are undertaken in a consistent manner each time, there should be no variance from what is outlined as the standard protocol. opEvents has introduced programmable button actions that help assist organisations in replicating troubleshooting actions and escalation procedures further solidifying opEvents as a technical service desk.

The buttons use the same pipeline as scripts in EventActions but now operators have the ability to manually kick off an action for an event. One of the most common actions will be to create a ticket in your issue tracking system, in our case we will create a Jira Ticket.

opEvents-Programmable-Buttons - 700

Configuration

To start create the following file in omk/conf/table_schemas/opEvents_action-buttons.json This must be valid JSON schema or the buttons will fail to render. You should see an error in opEvents.log if this is the case. [ { “description”: “Example Events Button Action”, “label”: “Create Ticket”, “fa_icon”: “fas fa-jira”, “script”: “create_ticket”, “tags”: [“ticket”] } ] Then add the following policy in omk/conf/EventActions.json|.nmis that triggers show_button.tag() EventActions.json “policy”: { “5”: { “IF”: “event.any”, “THEN”: “show_button.ticket()”, “BREAK”: “true” }, } & EventActions.nmis %hash = ( ‘policy’ => { ‘5’ => { IF => ‘event.any’, THEN => ‘show_button.create_ticket()’, BREAK => ‘true’ }, } ); These are the supported keys and how the change operation and look of the button.
Key Type Required Description
script String Yes Name of the script defined in EventActions.json
label String Yes Label which the button will display to the user
description String optional Tool-tip help text to be displayed when you mouse over the button
tags array[string] optional If no tags are defined the button will show on all events, if tags are defined the button will only show on events which have been tagged with show_button.tag_name()
run_once boolean optional If set to true the button will look for script.script_name key on the event, if found the button will disable itself. This allows manual actions to only be triggered once. Will not influence any defined EventActions.json operations.
fa_icon string optional Icon to be displayed from the Font Awesome library shipped with opEvents example: “fas fa-table-tennis” Icons here.
class string optional Define a css class to colour the button, see Notes on Button Classes below to see a list of supported types.

Notes on Font Awesome

In opEvents-3.2.2 we are shipping the library 5.12.1 In opEvents-2.6.1 we are shipping the library 5.8.2