Operational Challenges

Let's learn about the operational challenges inherent to the legacy approach to network management.

Problems with the legacy approach

Many challenges exist with the legacy approach to managing networks. Whether through CLI device-to-device, or through complicated and- expensive- NMS solutions, network management requires a great deal of CLI work.

The following is a list of key problems inherent to the legacy approach:

No source of truth

  • Networks often lack a source of truth, which is an authoritative artifact that can be referenced for what the desired working configuration of a device or set of devices is.
  • Networks are often decentralized in project folders, file shares, Visio diagrams, Excel spreadsheets, and local drives.
  • Sometimes, the networks themselves are the source of truth. This means the running configurations of all devices are the only source of information about the network.

Complex documentation

  • Documentation tends to fall out of date and requires manual updates whenever changes are made to the network.
  • It is often missed or overlooked.
  • It is often decentralized.
  • It is rarely referenced by network operators due to the above-mentioned complications.

Large scale

  • Networks are not getting smaller; they are expanding. Massive enterprise networks are commonplace due to the Internet of Things (IoT), wireless access points, IP phones, rapid WAN expansion, cloud adoption, and larger data centers.
  • CLI simply does not scale unless more people are added to manage the network.

High probability of errors

  • Mistakes happen with manual changes.
  • The legacy approach requires the orchestration of complex changes ensuring the correct order of device and command entry.
  • It requires work to be done several times per change. It requires planning, documentation, submission and implementation into production.
  • Mistakes in approval processes or operations occur where changes are completed out of order from when they were submitted, causing overwrites or outages.

Extensive changes

  • Deployment of new features often takes a very long time because of scale or complexity.
  • New business requirements and device types connecting to the network may require QoS policy changes leading to a rewrite of the QoS policy for every device.
  • Some changes are avoided because the effort required to make a correction or deploy a feature is too great.

Limited alternatives

  • Aside from CLI or an NMS, there are very few alternatives to managing a network.
  • Newer, intent-based solutions have only recently emerged with little proven capability.

Talent requirement

  • The complexity of networks has grown along with their size and scale. Networks have new considerations, like virtualization, multicast, QoS, STP, routing, routing protocols, cloud, security, firewalls, wireless, voice, video, VSS, HSRP, VPN, 802.1x, along with increasingly complicated commands to gather information.
  • Staffing challenges such as finding certified IT staff or expanding network operations headcount. Every change to the network becomes a challenge as the complexity increases.

High Costs

  • Downtime and changing window requirements.
  • Overtime requirements.
  • Large network operations staffing requirements.

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