By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist


Automation should be at the foundation of every federal IT pro’s performance strategy. Automating network configuration demands is a perfect place to start and has four primary advantages:


1. Save time, increase productivity. Continuously monitoring device configurations and receiving notifications of configuration changes can dramatically simplify managing network configuration files, particularly in multi-vendor network environments. Invest in a network configuration management tool with automated network backup, change monitoring, change approval, and bulk change deployments.


2. Reduce downtime caused by failed devices. Automated configuration management means there are full device configurations stored—which, in turn, means they can be easily restored or copied to set up a new device or replace a failed device. A tool that sends notifications in real-time whenever there is a configuration change can help backtrack and check if a recent configuration change is the cause of a network issue.


3. Accomplish configuration changes quickly and efficiently. Configuration change errors are not uncommon and can have cascading effects, including network outages and downtime. Automated configuration can help identify and fix configuration change errors. Consider deploying bulk configuration changes across multiple devices and device types to save what can be an hours-long task.


4. Compliance with regulations. Every federal IT pro is aware of the importance of meeting compliance requirements. An automation tool can help enforce compliance management policies by identifying and closing network security gaps. These tools can make your STIG deployments and Command Cyber Readiness Inspections as simple as clicking your mouse. Additionally, the ability to require network changes to be approved before being pushed out can help ensure that no changes violate regulations.


Ensuring optimal performance is the end goal; automation is key to achieving that goal. There are many ways to implement automation, and many automation tools available. Start by learning which tools are designed for large-scale networks. Investing in products that scale will be an initial, critical differentiator. After that, narrow down the options by ensuring that the company and product are approved for use on government networks, and ensure that the product offers the correct mix of flexibility and capability for your environment.


As a federal IT pro, the mission is the bottom line; the time saved through automation can help sharpen that focus. Implementing automation tasks and workflows allows time to focus on developing and deploying new and innovative applications, and more effective ways to deliver those applications to users so they can have the tools they need to do their jobs more efficiently. The end game will result in a significant ROI and better controls, but remember that it’s important to allow the teams to deploy these tools properly. Your time, energy, and efforts will be rewarded in spades.


Find the full article on our partner DLT’s blog Technically Speaking.


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