Matt | 03 October 2022

Top Network Automation Tricks

Network automation has become a key part of network management, allowing you to manage your network devices, servers and other assets efficiently. It’s key to increasing efficiency, reducing human error and allowing the focus to turn to innovation rather than reactivity.

There are many different types of automated tasks, and they’re often completed via a command-line interface (CLI) or a web console.

Device Locator

A device locator can help you find a device in large networks. A device locator can also be used to find the location of a device in relation to another one. For example, if you wanted to find out which office has printers or where all the laptops are located in a building.

Device locators are especially useful for tracking down malware in systems or networks because they keep records of every piece of hardware that’s connected. Records track who owns it, when it was last used and whether it’s online or offline, among other metrics, which makes remedying an issue quick and easy.

Check for Peer Connectivity

When you’re automating your network, you can use “ping” commands to check whether devices are communicating with each other. This can be helpful when troubleshooting connectivity issues on a network.

Ping is a utility that sends ICMP echo request packets to the destination device. If successful, it will return a reply packet from the destination back to the source device. If there’s no response, then there must be some form of latency or interference between them.

This form of network automation makes it simple to check that all devices are communicating or see where the error is to fix it.

Rule Migration

Rule migration is the process of converting a rule from one version of a product to another version of the same product. For example, you can migrate a rule from one version of a product to another, making it easy to switch between security products.

A simple example would be if you use an IPS and then want to switch over to using ARA (Application Rules Analyzer). When you do this, all rules will need to be updated because some things change with each new release. However, rule migration vastly simplifies the process because it allows the IT team to easily check that all rules are still necessary for their new product without any previous experience.

Password Management

Password management has become a buzzword in 2022. Hundreds of services have sprung up across the web; they are often free to use and allow you to sync your passwords across multiple devices so you never forget a password again. This is great for home users, but it’s more complicated for business users.

Often users will be in charge of their own passwords, which can lead to them creating a sub-optimal password that isn’t in line with best practices.

Creating network automations for password management helps to improve and maintain a network’s security. You can force users to reset their passwords, implement new rules for password creation and even force two-factor authentication for added security.

You can automate timed password resets or force a network-wide password reset after a data breach. Network automation security tools also allow you to update security policies for all users as needed, using a tool like AWS Config to help you quickly identify any misconfigurations or vulnerabilities in your environment.

Network Virtualisation

Virtualisation enables you to create multiple networks and automate the configuration using network virtualisation automation. You can create a network for each application, customer, department or server, each with different functions or rules. This allows you to push automatic configuration updates to any or all networks.

Automate Load Balancing

Load balancing is a notoriously difficult task when done manually, and it’s time-consuming. Using network automation to load balance helps a network to run much more efficiently and allows for scalability and reactive solutions to sudden changes in usage.

Amazon Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) is a service that distributes incoming application traffic across multiple servers. ELB can be configured to automatically detect changes in availability and distribute the traffic accordingly, providing a highly available and scalable solution for load balancing, which enables more efficient operation of a programme or network.

Configuration Checks

Configuration checks are a simple way to ensure your network is functioning correctly. Configuration check scripts can be used to check for differences between the templates and actual configuration for any given piece of equipment. It’s important that these configuration checks run periodically because they often find issues before they impact users.

There are many ways you can begin automating your network checks. Cisco PI has an extensive library of pre-built configuration checks that can be used within your automation framework.

The great thing about these pre-built check scripts is not only do they cover common protocols, but they also include things like NTP and even DNS resolution in certain cases.

Network automation has a wealth of use cases, from time-saving to error reduction and even security. There is a lot to learn, but it’s arguably one of the most flexible technologies, so it’s worth educating yourself on its functions and use cases.