Network automation—it's a technology and it's also the name of a company that prides itself on a no-code, no-limits approach to IT automation. In my recent discussion with Network Automation, Dustin Snell (founder, CEO, and chief software architect) and Gary Bishop (chief strategy officer) talked about the benefits of not only network automation but business process automation (BPA)—or IT process automation—which focuses on streamlining, optimizing, and automating the key processes that drive value for an organization and its customers.
New features in the company’s latest version—AutoMate 8—enable IT and business users alike to quickly and easily automate a countless number of tasks. All actions are pre-programmed and are described in plain English, enabling configuration without programming capabilities. For example, a new Microsoft SharePoint-library allows for full manipulation of files, sites, users, and roles.
One of my first questions to Snell and Bishop involved today's economy: IT departments today are forced to do more with less. We're seeing businesses shed IT pros to the point at which a single, often over-committed employees are manning the entire shop. And in many cases, formerly high-valued professionals—expert developers and programmers, for example—are just not affordable today. I asked whether Network Automation's mantra ("No code, no limits!") was, in some way, a response to these new economic realities.
The answer is yes and no. Although automation simplifies core processes in many business facets, it also requires certain expertise. And although Network Automation's new Automate BPA Server 8 addresses the needs of beleaguered IT departments, it's also appropriate for seasoned coding experts.
To that end, Network Automation forwarded me an excellent blog post of their own, titled "Where Have All the Software Developers & Programmers Gone?" A key passage in the blog entry is this: "What do we at Network Automation mean by 'No Code, No Limits?' At its very core, the job of your computer is to make your life easier by delivering the power to do things that would take much more effort and time to accomplish without its use. But the … software requires developers and/or programmers to be created and maintained."
New to AutoMate BPA Server 8 are virtualization and cloud computing automation solutions:
Fully enabled cloud automation via Amazon Web Services (AWS) actions including Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Relational Database Service (RDB), and SimpleDB and Simple Queue Service (SQS).
Complete automation of VMware virtualization platforms, enabling proactive automation of guest and host operations, including the ability to power on, power off, reset, and perform snapshot operations for virtual machines (VMs). The software can also directly communicate to a guest OS, to allow more seamless business continuity throughout operational processes.
“Enabling AutoMate to streamline processes that incorporate the cloud at a competitive price point is a feature we knew we wanted to offer in version 8. Our platform offers flexibility, and now caters to those who fully use the cloud, who may not use it all, or who use a hybrid cloud/on-premise environment,” said Snell.
And that's part of what's unique about Network Automation. Look at the AWS implementation as an example. "Other companies are providing automation of AWS—but only within the cloud," said Bishop. "What's unique is that our single automation server can scan on-premise, virtual, or in the cloud." The Automate product stands above the rest, primarily, because of its sheer scope. Many time-tested Network Automation technologies come to bear on any given piece of Automate functionality.
AutoMate 8 is currently available for purchase at the Network Automation website. The software is also available for a 30-day, 100 percent free trial through Network Automation.