Automation can be employed in any type of network, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), data center networks, cloud networks and wireless networks. In short, any network resource controlled through the command-line interface (CLI) or an application programming interface (API) can be automated.
Script-driven network automation employs scripting and programming languages to execute tasks, ideally those with precise triggers and consistent procedures. Legacy languages, such as Perl and Tcl, remain prevalent in network automation due to their familiarity. But as networks continue to become more complex, newer open source programming languages, such as Python and Ruby, have grown in popularity for their ease of use and flexibility.
Software-based network automation, often referred to as intelligent network automation, is coordinated through an administrative portal that eliminates the need to script commands by hand. These platforms typically provide templates for creating and executing tasks based on plain language policies.
A variety of open source tools - including Ansible, Chef and Puppet - offer network automation frameworks. These tools typically offer a library of common commands or workflows that can easily be repeated.
Commercial network automation tools are also available. Most network infrastructure vendors have developed software-based platforms that provide automation capabilities, typically for their own products, through a specialized API.
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