Networking Automation Tools – Currently, new technologies like software-defined networking (SDN), intent-based networking (IBN), and network function virtualization (NFV) are taking over the networking industry. Our highly-digitalized business environment needs them because traditional networks are known to be slow and unresponsive. Even deploying one configuration change can take days, and when you have a rapid pace, these manually managed networks become error-prone.
Well, Network Automation is the key to adopting new technologies and making our networks agile and responsive to changes. The network becomes secure as the manual process gets eliminated, and they span hybrid and multi-cloud environments along with the traditional on-premise network.
Top 5 Networking Automation Tools for 2022
Here is a list of tools that are the best networking automation tools available for free.
What is Netmiko?
Netmiko is an open-source Python library based on the Paramiko SSH library and is completely free for its users. It is a module that uses paramiko but also improves its library by including support to a wide range of networking vendors and platforms, such as Arista EOS, Cisco ASA, HP Comware7, Juniper Junos, Linux, and more.
This tool simplifies and automates the logging to a network device through SSH and executes commands allowing easier management and connection of network devices.
Benefits of Netmiko
- Netmiko establishes an SSH connection to network devices
- This tool executes “show” commands and retrieves the results
- It executes configuration commands
- This automation tool supports a wide range of vendors and platforms
- It is a lightweight SHH-based tool
- Ideal tool for users who are looking for a CLI automation tool
- It features an extensive library of supported vendors
Download: Get Netmiko from the Github library.
What is NAPALM?
NAPALM stands for Network Automation and Programmability Abstraction Layer with Multivendor support. It is a Python library for network device contacts via a unified API.
This software is cross-platform, open-source, and can support different networking operating systems such as Arista EOS, Cisco IOS, Cisco IOS-XR, Cisco NX-OS, and Juniper JunOS.
Benefits of NAPALM
- It can connect to single or multiple devices.
- It executes commands automatically like Replace, merge, and compare configurations
- Automatic discards or rollbacks configuration
- Automatic retrieve and audit information
- It collaborates with automation frameworks, such as Ansible, Salt, and Stackstorm.
- NAPALM’s syntax is easy to learn, even for new users
- It supports cross-platform installations
Download: Get NAPALM free from GitHub’s project library.
What is Ansible?
Ansible by RedHat is an automation platform available for Linux, macOS, Unix, and Windows. It was designed to be the central platform for all automation tasks like provisioning and configuration management; they build and operate automation across an organization.
Ansible is Used For
Ansible is available in two versions,
An open-source version: It is free and script-based. Using the device CLI to configure automation workflows of servers, they provide native support for legacy and open network infrastructure.
Ansible Tower: The paid version offers a GUI-based console for deploying automation playbooks and network administration. They are easy-to-use and help network teams manage complex deployments.
Download open-source Ansible/Ansible Tower (free trial) – GitHub Ansible Project
VMware NSX Fullform
The full form of VMware is Virtual Machine Software and NSX doesn’t have any official full form but it is believed to stand for Network Virtualization.
VMware NSX was designed to improve the speed of the application’s lifecycle by leveraging automation. It uses virtualized networking functions (VNFs) to move your network from hardware to software and make its services easier to adjust to software. So, with VMware NSX, all your routers, switches, firewalls, and more can be deployed within a single box that runs all VNFs.
Running VNFs with a cloud platform like vRealize Cloud Automation can automate network and security deployments with the help of templates and blueprints.
Benefits of VMware NSX
- It automates native networking and security functions for containers and microservices
- It supports integration with PCF, PKS, Kubernetes, and Red Hat OpenShift
- Offers automatic compliance checks
- It can automate microservices and cloud applications
- Provides security, segmentation, simplified policy compliance, and streamlined security operations.
5.SolarWinds Network Automation Manager (NAM)
What is SolarWinds NAM?
SolarWinds NAM is a top pick for Network Managers looking for a package of network automation tools. This tool provides highly automated processes to monitor and manage complicated networks. It can monitor the availability, faults, and performance of all nodes and paths in your network.
Also, it allows its users to create a standard configuration, schedule automated backups, and disperse it to all devices on the network of the same make and model.
Benefits of SolarWinds NAM
- This tool delivers a range of network security capabilities and automated configuration backup, configuration change monitoring, changes automation, changes approval, and configuration auditing.
- It can provide insights into network fault, network availability, performance, bandwidth, configuration, and IT address management in a single console.
- It can offer automatic subnet discovery and IP scanning.
- Capable of automating processes at an enterprise level
Download: Start 30-day Free Trial from the SolarWinds website.
These Networking Automation tools are GUI-based software that eliminates the need to code and makes the automation quicker and more efficient. They are the best alternative for network engineers who are used to making changes on the CLI and are hesitant to try out any new thing that doesn’t support command-line scripting.
So, these are the best networking automation tools that can help enterprises go a long way in keeping their network agile, secure, and updated.
But as the enterprises scale up, the risk of threats increases, so they must not just focus on automation but keep networks secure with intuitive vulnerability detection and mitigation methods.
Some of the best practices to automate networks and keep them safe are listed here for you.
- Before adopting automation, analyse your network devices and components and determine whether your network is ready for automation or needs some fundamental restructuring.
- Initially automate the tasks that are most time-consuming, resource-hungry, and are usually repetitive in your network.
- Choose an automation tool that aligns best with your business processes, existing IT technologies, and needs like vendor support, scalability, and the ability to integrate/work alongside your existing solution.
- Train your workforce before deploying automation; even the most powerful tool can yield abysmal results when not used properly.
- Follow security measures and policies along with conducting audits that help you detect and remediate deviations as and when they occur.
- Keep exploring, experimenting, and expanding automation to your network and all of its processes.
Why do enterprises need Networking Automation tools for automating their network?
The traditional way to automate network is via CLI of the device, but this process limits automation to a device or a module at best. The CLI scripting falls apart when it comes to implementing strategic changes to infrastructure and operations.
Also, Network Engineers must have programming skills to execute automation through CLI, which not everybody has. The growing automation requirements will make engineers try out any new thing that doesn’t support command-line scripting.
In such cases, GUI-based software that eliminates the need to code and is quicker and more efficient comes in handy. Networking Automation tools can help enterprises go a long way in keeping their network agile, secure, and updated.
If you are curious to learn how to use these networking automation tools in a production environment but don’t have any programming skills, consider joining PyNet Labs’ customized Python for Network Engineers + Ansible + CCNA DevNet training.
We cover Python from scratch and then jump into Ansible, the official CCNA DevNet course curriculum. To register for our Network Automation training program, you can connect with us on Call, WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Signal at +91 9821215002, or write us at [email protected].