The promise of cloud is the promise of automation.  It’s almost that simple.

Automation has many benefits; from reduced costs, to on-demand agility, to pro-active healing and higher effective availability.  At Appledore Research, we have written dozens of reports on the benefits of automation, and especially, what makes for successful, low maintenance, automation; there is clearly a “right way” and a “wrong way”.

While the cloud domain has received the bulk of attention, and even has its own terminology for the state of the art (“cloud native” which to be fair is far more than a buzzword, but defined by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation [CNCF]), transport is the heart and soul of the telecom business.  Everything else is a vertical add-on or a platform enabler.  Transport demands agile effective automation.

Automation, however, must extend beyond the network setup itself. Many supporting processes not only benefit from automation, but *must* be automated if true on-demand services are to be practical.  Manual actions don’t occur in seconds or even minutes – rendering on-demand both impractical and uneconomic.

Emerging service models are also complicating this process, as they open up new sources of revenues.  A case in point is the new enterprise model, in which a combination of WAN, SDWAN, public cloud, supply chain partners, aaS capabilities, and remote sites are being integrated into a single, dynamic, orchestrated and secured multi-point network.  Not only is this complex and dynamic, but it means that configuration and testing must extend into 3rd party assets.

Juniper & Automation

Recently we had the opportunity to dive into Juniper’s Paragon suite used for its Automated Service Activation and Testing solution, which combines and integrates many assets from within Juniper and close partners, to perform automation within the transport domain, from order decomposition through configuration, testing/validation, turn-up, ongoing testing, and healing.

In a paper we wrote recently, Appledore dissected the life-cycle of a transport service (read it here). Next, drawing on our published work we documented the key best practices, and finally mapped them to Paragon, noting some unique aspects such as the simplified graphical development environment and Juniper’s advanced automated test technology, acquired from Netrounds.

In the end, the industry will succeed not with giant “hero projects”, but rather by focusing first on automating each domain so that it is truly efficient and autonomic. Then, the industry can expose those as APIs to Cross-Domain Orchestration and put together the bigger picture.  Such a “domain driven design” has many attractive attributes such as loose coupling, simplified additions and upgrades, and distributed loads and operation.

We always enjoy taking these deeper dives from well-worn theory, down into the specifics of each supplier’s implementation, and seeing the unique and clever twists that many put on our common automation goal.

Grant Lenahan

Partner and Principal Analyst, Appledore Research

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Picture credit: Joshua Sortino on Unsplash