A report from network analytics company Kentik asserts that network management is becoming an increasingly automated process.

SEE: Special feature: Managing the multicloud (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Taken from survey responses received at Cisco Live 2019, the report found that network automation of at least one type is in use at 85% of organizations. The automation used can take a variety of forms, but the bottom line is new innovations in networking “are adding new virtual, overlay, and underlay constructs and elements, all making the network stack even more difficult to holistically understand,” the report said.

All of that, and the other findings in the study, point to a trend toward adoption of what Kentik calls “AIOps,” or artificial intelligence for operations.

The report describes AIOps as an approach to network management that “leverages multiple sources of real-time and historical monitoring data, adds contextual enrichments, applies AI/ML to recognize patterns and anomalies worthy of actions, and automates corrections, however and wherever practical.”

That doesn’t mean that networking professionals need worry about their jobs being replaced. Instead, AIOps means that the most mundane and routine elements of managing networks will be handed over to machine learning models that can weed the noise out of the vast amount of tickets, security alerts, and other networking notifications.

SEE: The industry cloud: Why it’s next (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Automation is already beginning

With only one quarter of those surveyed still avoiding the move to the cloud, it’s obvious that there’s a trend: Cloud adoption continues to grow. Multicloud use is up to nearly half of respondents, meaning that of the organizations using cloud services nearly two thirds are using multiple ones.

As the report points out, cloud use and its growing importance in the business world, is a sign that network management automation is already trending up. Cloud services, by their very nature, automate part of network management away from companies for a monthly fee.

The report says that cloud adoption leads to more automation, citing that 85% of those surveyed are using at least one automation deployment in place. Software defined networks, virtual servers, and more are just some of the tools abstracting network drudgery away.

The largest percentage of automation software being used is in the configuration realm, with 53% of respondents using some sort of network configuration automation tool. Second to that is policy management automation (40%), and third is workload management (33%). Taking care of these things is routine, simple, and time consuming: The perfect thing to let an AI do.

What is the future of network automation?

Networking professionals, the report concluded, aren’t going to see their jobs get easier without increased automation and AI-powered tools that can take care of the grunt work.

The adoption of various cloud providers, network virtualization, and other virtual tools might make certain tasks easier, but in the long run all it leads to is more fragmentation and an increased need to monitor siloed tools.

The future needs to be in the form of “holistic AIOps strategy for network management tools, technologies, and best practices,” the report said.

AIOps tools do exist, but the report found that 56% of respondents were unaware of their existence. Organizations that want to stay ahead of the cloud virtualization curve should consider adopting an AIOps platform to prevent the same problem that followed the widespread advent of big data: Siloing.

For more, check out Multicloud: A cheat sheet on TechRepublic.

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