How to choose the right network automation tool

Without the right network automation tool, an organization with a large network environment consisting of many devices will not be able to perform vital operations, such as backing up configurations on time, keeping track of unwanted changes in real time, and complying with industry regulations. When an organization fails to use the right network automation tool to perform the above operations, it could fall apart in minutes, leading to huge losses that are sometimes unrecoverable.

There are approximately 50 network automation tools on the global market. Which is the best among them? What are the criteria for choosing the best network automation tool for your organization? The answer is simple. You need to have a basic idea of the features provided by the network automation tool and whether those features will directly help your organization enhance your overall network performance.

Must-have technical features for a network automation tool

  1. Automatically stores the critical network configurations safely for retrieval during network downtime
  2. Keeps track of all configuration changes in real time without any manual effort
  3. Schedules repetitive tasks during out-of-office hours to avoid interruptions
  4. Provides automation templates to push configurations or change passwords for up to a thousand devices in one go
  5. Secures your devices with automated compliance and regularly generates compliance reports
  6. Manages firmware and associated vulnerabilities without any hassles
  7. Supports customization according to your organization's requirements
  8. Has a user-friendly UI

Challenges organizations face without the right network automation tool

Lack of customization and multi-vendor support

Some vendors provide tools that do not support customizations and only allow you to add two different vendors under one roof.

Lack of a foolproof, accessible UI

A user-unfriendly UI in a network automation tool is hard to learn and use, requiring network engineers to learn new skills to manage the tool and thus costing unnecessary time and effort.

Lack of default compliance policies

Some tools do not provide compliance policies as they should, and because of this, organizations could face huge fines.

ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager as your all-in-one network automation platform

Network Configuration Manager is a multi-vendor tool for various network automation tasks for all your network devices, including routers, switches, and firewalls. Take control of your entire device configuration management life cycle with Network Configuration Manager as your network automation tool.

Now, let us take a look at the most advanced network automation features of Network Configuration Manager:

1. Backs up your vital configurations

Configurations are considered the heart of networks and thus they always need to be managed carefully. When sudden network downtime strikes, it would be really difficult without configuration backups to find the root cause and then bring the network back up, costing your business profit and precious time.

You need to have a backup of the vital configurations ready so that you can weather the storm of network downtime. Network Configuration Manager helps you back up vital configurations in three ways:

  1. Manual backups: Instantly back up the configurations of a single device or multiple devices with a few clicks.
  2. Scheduled backups: Schedule the date and time for a device backup so that the tool performs the backup without human intervention at the specified time.
  3. Automated backups: Network Configuration Manager detects changes through the syslog messages received from devices and backs them up.

2. Monitors changes made to your configurations in real time

Since a single line of a faulty configuration can lead to a number of problems, each line of change, be it authorized or unauthorized, should be tracked in real time. Network Configuration Manager's change management feature consists of the following capabilities that help you keep track of configuration changes:

  1. Real-time change notifications: Receive instant notifications in real time via emails, SNMP traps, syslog messages, and more.
  2. Role-based access control: Assign specific roles to operators and give network admins full authority so that no change goes past them without their knowledge.
  3. Configuration versioning and labeling: Assign unique version numbers whenever configurations are improved, upgraded, or customized.
  4. Diff View: Compare configurations on the same device or on two different devices side by side.

3. Automates bulk tasks with automation templates

Suppose a network admin is required to enable SNMP on a thousand devices in a single network environment. The admin cannot log in to each and every device in the environment with Telnet or PuTTY and then enable SNMP. Imagine the time and effort of such a task. Network Configuration Manager has automation templates called Configlets that help network admins finish tasks with a single click of a button.

4. Automates compliance with reports

All the devices in your network environment have to be compliant with industry regulations. In a vast environment, checking each device regularly would be very hectic, and there is a chance you would miss some noncompliant devices, leading to huge fines and even imprisonment.

Network Configuration Manager offers an automated compliance feature to help you meet the requirements of the standard industry regulations by default. It also regularly generates reports showing the details of noncompliant devices.

5. Manages the firmware of devices and vulnerabilities

A device's firmware has to be secured against malicious threats, otherwise there is a chance of it becoming vulnerable and the device's information being leaked. With Network Configuration Manager's firmware vulnerability management, you can keep a keen eye on vulnerabilities. It provides a list of vulnerable devices with CVE IDs containing information about threats and patches to fix them. The criticality of a vulnerability is decided based on the base score ranging from 0-10.

6. Provides deeper insights with up-to-date report generation

Reports are vital to keeping a configuration up-to-date. Network Configuration Manager generates different kinds of reports based on the tasks involved, which keeps you updated on the latest developments. You can also schedule these reports based on your needs. Here are four important report categories:

  1. Network reports
  2. Configuration reports
  3. User reports
  4. Policy compliance reports

As you can see, Network Configuration Manager is the best choice for your network automation tool as it contains all the vital features required for today's network environments, such as backups, change management, automated compliance, and firmware management.

Get know more by reading our blog on network automation tool.

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