1. What are the most common misconceptions about network automation?
The most common misconception is that the software delivering automation is a key component, but really in a large organisation it’s fixing the inputs and outputs of process that feed that change. For example it’s easy to write a script that goes onto a load balancer & makes a change, you can do that in a couple of hours. The hard part is getting teams involved, tracking what information you need to do the process, and ticking all the boxes along the way – quality control, creating a log, roll back points etc.
2. What's the biggest challenge the industry faced during the pandemic?
Funding is the main issue at the moment. People aren’t willing to spend money on projects that don’t see an extremely quick payoff, but automation is not that impacted on the whole, as it’s all handled remotely. With NetAutomate I was able to work at full steam throughout the outbreak, and the company has resources around the world to contribute to a project, so we’re relatively unaffected.
3. How do you kick off the process for automating a networking environment?
I like to start with a contemplation process for all my engagements, where I interview all the stakeholders to see what existing technologies there are, and which technological investments have already been made. Large enterprises have often already bought big cisco solutions, so that would affect the deliverable.
I identify the quick wins, like easily automated processes, that show value in the organisation - the ability to show value very quickly is really important. It’s often not me having to sell the value of automation back to a company though, it’s usually the team that you go in to work with that then go on to share the value of it with the company.
4. What are the most common mistakes businesses make when automating a networking environment?
The most common mistake is letting the engineers run wild and do their own thing. There needs to be a development infrastructure in place with pipelines, container infrastructure, coding whatever you are deploying to, and direction for the team. If everyone writes their own scripts it’s a disaster. You really need structure in place as one big outage in automation can undo all of the cost savings you’ve made in years.
5. What’s the biggest lesson you've learned on the job?
Testing is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned. It’s easy to build automation, but it’s hard to test it and that’s what you need to do to build a really trustworthy system.
6. Share an experience in which you successfully improved performance via automation
Automation is not about taking jobs away from people, but saving time that’s being wasted on cumbersome tasks that can take hours. For example, you need admin approval on one of your tickets, but your manager has been in meetings all day, so you might waste 2 hours of your day chasing your manager, who already has another 100 other tickets waiting for approval in their backlog. The 20 minutes they need to approve your ticket is suddenly times 100. That can have a big impact on your business. We can automate a check on a ticket, streamlining the process and making it quicker and easier for everyone.
7. What do you think is the next big thing in automation in 5 years?
Everything will have an API, and every product that’s delivered will need an API. There will also probably be some really good orchestration software because everything will take data from one API to another.
8. Tell us a bit more about NetAutomate & what you do there
NetAutomate is a network automation consultancy that aims to be an experience consultant to take customers through the automation journey, create a scrum team, and become a partner that helps create their own automation environment. We sit where people want to build automation in their own environment but they need to get it kickstarted, and they need to bring in someone who has done it before.
9. What would you tell someone thinking of joining hubbado?
Do it. I came to the UK with no job & a recommendation to hubbado, I got a job within a week of landing in London. I’ve been with hubbado for a number of years, and now I know and have access to 200 people that are high up in the industry, and I’ve had positions in cities around the country. I’ve used hubbado to the fullest to build a network around the UK.
Scott is a Network Engineer turned Network Automation software developer, who supports and guides businesses transitioning to automation enabling them to realise cost, efficiency and quality benefits quickly.
He is also a founding member of NetAutomate, a Hubbado partner company that focuses on assisting companies in bringing successful Network Automation programs to life, and offering the following services:
initial automation design and consultancy analysis of value added or return on investment for automation projects advice on tools and solutions (proprietary or open source) fixed price software / solutions development to achieve automation outcomes ongoing support and maintenance of software process analysis and adaptation to use automation
with his work history, skills data and availability. public profile here
Get in touch to learn more or arrange a consultation