Skip to content

DDI as a Network Automation Hub: 3 Key Use Cases

Explore the strategic value of network automation, highlighted by asset discovery, lifecycle management, and policy enforcement. Discover use cases for leveraging EfficientIP DDI solution as a network automation hub to bolster operational efficiency, security, and compliance.

April 16, 2024 | Written by: Myriam Herbron | , , ,

Ddi As a Network Automation Hub 3 Key Use Cases

Network automation is on the rise, especially in the context of hybrid multicloud environments, addressing network complexity, and mitigating security risks while enhancing operational efficiency. This blog outlines quick steps to accelerate network automation initiatives, emphasizing the importance of starting small, utilizing essential tools such as DDI solutions with built-in Network Source of Truth (NSoT) and APIs that serve as a Network Automation Hub. By highlighting three key use cases, Network Automation Hub helps advance network automation implementations regardless of an organization’s maturity level, helping them to grab significant benefits in operational efficiency, security, compliance, and network resilience.

Why network automation is strategic

Network automation is pivotal across all organizations, irrespective of their technical endeavors, size, or industry. It directly addresses the growing complexity of modern networks, offering significant strategic advantages across the business. Recent research from EMA found operational efficiency and reduced security risk were two of the most prominent benefits of network automation. Managing complex environments resulting from cloud migration and hybrid cloud architectures are among the leading drivers for pursuing automation.

However, only 18% of respondents in EMA’s research believed their network automation strategy to date had been a complete success, with another 55% describing partial success so far. EMA highlighted barriers to success, including limited budgets and personnel, integration issues, lack of standards, and legacy network complications. Successfully implementing network automation at scale requires a strategic approach to cut through the obstacles and unlock the benefits.

How a Network Automation Hub accelerates implementation and overcomes challenges

Enterprises often struggle to overcome their current inefficient, manually focused network management processes. EMA found 85% percent of automation tools require users to manually gather at least some data before implementing change. This can quickly lead to inefficient and error-prone processes that may lead to security issues, network performance issues, and downtime.

Addressing these issues company-wide is daunting, so the best way to advance the journey to a more effective network automation process is to start small. Organizations should look for low-hanging fruit as a testbed for new tools and processes, then iterate based on their successes and build a roadmap to scale up their strategy.

Employing a phased approach enhances maturity over time. Central to success are DDI tools integrated with built-in APIs and a Network Source of Truth (NSoT), which is the foundation of all networking resources (including IP addresses, subnets, and domain names). According to EMA, nearly 89% of organizations consider their DDI solution to be a source of truth for network automation.

EfficientIP’s Network Automation Hub solution exemplifies this, combining the SOLIDserver™ DDI suite, a highly-scalable, robust, secure, and open platform for DNS, DHCP, and IPAM services, with network discovery tools such as Cloud Observer and NetChange IPLocator to deliver positive and measurable benefits at every stage of network automation initiatives. As per the Gorilla Guide to Network Automation, these benefits are amplified by up to 62% for enterprises employing DDI.

By providing Open APIs, SDKs, and plug-ins as well as a comprehensive, trusted, and up-to-date inventory of network objects, the solution enables network teams to easily view valuable and actionable data and metadata across diverse networks, automate workflows by pushing and pulling this data to feed other tools (NAC, ITSM, or SIEM…), and connect the IT ecosystem to enable end-to-end lifecycle management of network and security operations. Using DDI as a Network Automation Hub improves operational efficiency by reducing network outages, human errors, and MTTR, enhances security and compliance by ensuring policy enforcement, and accelerates service and application deployment with comprehensive asset management. 

Next, we’ll explore three archetypal use cases highlighting the benefits of implementing EfficientIP’s DDI and Network Automation Hub as illustrated in the Gorilla Guide to Network Automation.  

3 Essential use cases to benefit from DDI as a Network Automation Hub

Use case 1 – Multi-cloud assets discovery for increased visibility

Discovering multi-cloud assets is pivotal for comprehensive visibility and control of the environment. This process is crucial for asset management, enabling organizations to gain end-to-end visibility across complex networks. By leveraging EfficientIP’s SOLIDserver™ DDI, Cloud Observer, and NetChange IPLocator, businesses can automate the detection and documentation of network resources, whether on-premises or across hybrid, multi-cloud environments.

This automation fosters a standardized approach, providing a unified view of all resources wherever they are, enhancing security, and facilitating continuous compliance monitoring. Integrating these tools ensures the NSoT remains qualitative and accurate, ready for remedial actions when necessary.

There are several key outcomes here, including improved security, better cost management by identifying unused resources, facilitated network validation, and increased operational efficiency. Network operations teams can access essential information via a consolidated platform, making it easier to spot anomalies and inconsistencies. This use case exemplifies the strategic advantage of employing network automation to achieve a more secure, compliant, and efficient network infrastructure.

Ddi As Network Automation Hub Multicloud Discovery
EfficientIP Network Automation Hub provides visibility across all locations (on-premises, multi-cloud or hybrid)

Use-case 2 – Infrastructure, applications, or services deployment automation

Successfully automating deployments in today’s dynamic IT environments, including infrastructure, applications, and services, can mean a leap towards enhanced operational agility and efficiency. With EfficientIP’s SOLIDserver™ DDI and Network Object Manager, organizations can automate device lifecycle management aspects, from provisioning to decommissioning of ressources.

This automation is facilitated by integrating open APIs and plugins, streamlining processes, and enabling quick, accurate allocation and refreshing of IP addresses and subnets. It simplifies DNS service activation and configuration and enables control and reconciliation of network modifications with the NSoT, thus enhancing network integrity.

This approach underscores the value of comprehensive solutions, especially within the context that EMA’s research found 94% of organizations use a combination of vendor and DIY solutions for network automation. Moving towards a smaller number of more comprehensive solutions reduces the amount of manual interventions and potential for error, accelerating time to market, and achieving cost efficiency.

The result is a markedly more agile, efficient, and compliant operational framework, essential for navigating the complexities of modern network environments.

Network Automation Hub Automated Deployment
EfficientIP Network Automation Hub helps manage devices throughout their lifecycles

Use case 3 – Firewall policy enforcement automation 

Finally, let’s look at NetSecOps automation. As mentioned above, in the last EMA report on network automation, security policy and configuration compliance management emerged as the two most important network automation features cited by organizations. In particular, one of the more complex use cases reported is firewall automation and updating firewall policies or adding rules.  

The SOLIDserver™ DDI platform helps automate firewall security policy configuration and management, enabling network and security teams to save time. Thanks to its open APIs and plugins, EfficientIP’s IPAM trusted data is used effectively for the seamless synchronization of zones and subnets, from creation to deletion, maintaining accurate and up-to-date rule configurations and bolstering security policies deployment across the infrastructure.

This approach not only streamlines the deployment of security policies but also ensures error-free configurations, thereby increasing the reliability and efficiency of security operations. Leveraging the openness of EfficientIP’s DDI solutions, organizations can enhance collaboration between network and security teams, which is crucial for modern NetSecOps. Automating firewall policy enforcement and lifecycle management significantly boosts network security and compliance, cited by the same EMA report as the most compelling reason to invest in network automation solutions.

Network Automation Hub Firewall Policy Enforcement
EfficientIP Network Automation Hub enables automated deployment of consolidated NetSecOps policies

Whatever their level of network automation maturity, organizations incorporating DDI solutions into their network automation strategy can realize far greater benefits than those without. Successful implementation unlocks operational efficiency, cost reduction, improves IT team productivity and agility, and enhances network resilience. This comprehensive strategy underscores the pivotal role played by DDI as a Network Automation Hub to achieve a higher degree of security, compliance, and network management sophistication. 

Read EMA Enterprise Network Automation Report

Want to learn more about how you can accelerate your network automation strategy?