RPA / Workload Automation is a totally new field for me. I’ve always been on the network infrastructure side. I’ve configured routers and switches and installed VOIP phone systems countless times. I’ve created MPLS networks and spent more than half of my career measuring the performance of these creations with network management tools, some of which I helped to create. The funny thing is, never once did we really stop and say “how can I make these tasks easier?”. I’ve slogged through putting the same device configuration on 100’s of pieces of hardware and making the same syntax error over and over. I’ve watched cut and paste fail and I’ve fixed thousands of my own mistakes along the way.
Now as part of an automation startup where we are doing some really cool things, I wonder why did we not think of this sooner? In the past, I’ve used some work reduction techniques, as I like to call them. We used Ansible and PowerShell scripts to do some work and tools like GitHub to organize some of the puzzle pieces we created, but we never had a platform where all this could be stored, executed, and logged. At Pliant.io we give users the ability to go beyond a single purpose script and allow them to build automation workflows that can create the configuration, verify the deployment, and based on performance from the network management system tweak settings. The same workflow can also put the infrastructure inventory into my CMDB or create the CI in a ticket system like ServiceNow. Deployments that used to take days now take hours and we get away from my almost famous typos.
If you have not taken a look at low code / no code options like Pliant.io you should. As the world becomes more API oriented many “network engineers” like myself thought the only way to survive was to learn Python or NodeJS etc. Low code / no code solutions have allowed me to continue to focus on my expertise as a network engineer and interact with infrastructure API’s without becoming a programmer! Automation allows us as engineers to meet the crazy demands of the business and still make it home for dinner. It helps us be less error-prone and create really cool infrastructures that perform better in less time. If you haven’t checked out low code / no code automation you really should.