Network-Automation -- Discuss automated network configuration and management


About Network-Automation
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The Network-Automation mailing list is for discussions of issues related to automating network configuration and management, including (but not limited to) methods, mechanisms, techniques, philosophies, policies, and products (in general; questions about specific products should be directed to the mailing list dedicated to that particular product).

The Network-Automation mailing list is hosted by Netomata, Inc.


Since 1990 or so, much of the research in the system administration field has focused on automation. It's now well accepted that a well-run operation doesn't manage 10,000 servers individually, but rather uses tools like cfengine and Puppet to manage definitions of those servers and then create instances of those servers as needed. In the networking world, though, most of us seem to be still manually configuring (and reconfiguring) every device.

Luke A. Kanies, the creator of Puppet, does a good job of explaining the logic behind an automated approach to network configuration and management in his article Automating Network Administration.

The key benefits that he sees from automation are:

  1. Reducing the amount of time a given task requires.
  2. Reducing the opportunity for error in a given task.
  3. Reducing turnaround time for a given task.
  4. Enhancing and perpetuating configuration consistency across multiple systems.
  5. Providing a limited kind of process documentation.

These benefits (particularly the 4th one, consistency) are critical if your goal is to offer a reliable service (increasing MTBF and decreasing MTTR).

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