Experience as the new uptime: Why automation is the silver bullet to get us there

Experience as the new uptime: Why automation is the silver bullet to get us there

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The shift to remote and hybrid work was a sudden change brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with this change also came a rapid surge to move applications to the cloud. Although the shift to the cloud was in process before the pandemic, businesses had to shift to a higher gear quickly to access applications anywhere.

Even as the pandemic shows signs of easing, there is no turning back. According to Gartner Inc., almost two-thirds (65.9%) of spending on application software will be directed toward cloud technologies in 2025, up from 57.7% in 2022.

As the shift to the cloud-based enterprise applications continues, the role and importance of the network continues to expand. Because of this shift, customers need and expect their networks to be highly reliable with zero or minimum outages.

At the start of the pandemic, network operators had to adjust networks as quickly as possible in order to keep pace with the rapid switch to the cloud, on top of existing network demands. Now, operators are looking to make smart and long-lasting network decisions through architecture and design choices for flexibility and resiliency that will keep networks prepared for whatever the future may bring.

A major part of this is an increasing investment in automation. As the industry continues to transition to next-generation technologies, including 5G, automation will help simplify operations while guaranteeing speed, agility and service assurance.

Network performance versus user experience

For network operators, the service experience has become a critical success factor and difference maker for success of the organization, whether for an enterprise information technology organization, service provider or cloud provider. It’s no longer enough just to keep pace with end-user expectations; operators are expected to exceed them.

As network operators often focus on ensuring network reliability first and performance second, there can be a disconnect between network performance and user experience. This is especially true as the numbers of users, devices and applications continue grow at rapid speeds. This can lead to situations where end-users may experience what feels to them like a slow network while IT claims the network is working as it should be with high levels of reliability.

Clearly, it’s not enough only to have visibility into network reliability. Operators require performance visibility and tuning all the way down to the client, application and session to optimize end-user experience fully. That can be achieved by introducing better insights and proactive actions into the network, enabling service providers and operators to provide a better experience for consumers and enterprises alike.

In most network environments this is incredibly complex to achieve. In short, increasing automation is the way forward.

Investing in an automation strategy for better user experience

As networks continue to evolve, automation will be the key to ensuring better user experiences through the entire network through every stage of the services lifecycle.

To stay ahead of this, operators must set up an automation strategy that is responsive, insightful, elastic and resilient. Through this, network performance and user experiences will work in tandem to ensure that there is no disruption to the network. When supplying an automated, service-assured network, operators must consider implementing the following into their automation strategy:

  • Optimize operations by reducing the time it takes to process common tasks and minimize manual process-related errors.
  • Increase network and service resiliency by gathering and analyzing performance data to obtain actionable insights on network and service performance.
  • Conduct active service verification by monitoring service performance across all service and resolve issues before end-users experience them.
  • Plan, monitor and control traffic with intelligent routing so operators can make changes in real time.
  • Simplify deployment by providing an open and extensible solution that is cloud-delivered and flexible for multi-vendor interoperability.

Adopting an automation strategy will help alleviate issues such as network congestion, latency, brownouts and long lead times to activate new services – all problems that can ultimately worsen the user experience. In moving on from manual process and antiquated tools, networks operators will be able to keep up with the growing complexity, scale and performance requirements of the applications they’re delivering, while providing excellent customer experience.

The bottom line: Automation will transform future networks

Network operators are just scratching the surface with network automation, and as technologies and networks continue to evolve and mature, automation will be a critical component in that process to ensure optimized user experiences. Without this automation, network operators will be forever fighting a losing battle against increasing complexity. Automation is the path forward for improving user experiences.

Julius Francis is senior director of product marketing and strategy at Juniper Networks Inc. He wrote this article for SiliconANGLE.

Image: geralt/Pixabay

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