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5 Network Automation Challenges in the SDN Age

by Jan 9, 2023

NetBrain founder and CEO Lingping Gao presented his Think Tank session, “Hidden Challenges of Network Automation in the SDN Age and Beyond,” at Cisco Live 2018 in Orlando. This post summarizes his presentation.

What are our biggest network automation challenges to network automation? I’m talking about today’s real-world networking — not challenges down the road. I’m talking about our current day-to-day operational workflows and tasks: troubleshooting, change management, security, and documentation in SDN, multi-cloud and hybrid networks.

Network automation challenges

There are two fundamental things that make network automation challenging. The first is the network itself. Networks today are really complex. We just got over virtualization, and then comes software-defined networks like Cisco ACI and now we have SD-WAN. The second thing is our tools and data. We use a lot of tools — ticketing systems like ServiceNow, 24×7 monitoring solutions, Splunk, SEIM and IDS, and even APM. Each tool does its own job but functions on an “island.” We wind up with a lot of data silos. So many tools with an abundance of data mean that automating troubleshooting or change management is not that straightforward.

That said, there are 5 “hidden” network automation challenges to everyday practical network automation that I’ve learned over the years.