Network automation is the solution to all of our problems, right? Once we implement it in our environments, all of the issues go away and everyone is happy and there are never any questions about it at all. Of course not. In the real world, there are people that constantly question the need to use new technologies that they don’t trust or, worse yet, that they don’t see the value of because it’s not a clear-cut issue of dollars and cents.
For every engineer championing the use of network automation, there is a bean counter weighing the actual value of uprooting old systems and implementing something different. We can argue about stability and repeatability or even job role tracking until we’re blue in the face, but it won’t matter if they only care about ROI and dollars saved. Worse yet, how do you track that? How can you prove that you’re actually saving time and translating that value into something that can be expressed in budget terms? Are you even measuring the right things?
Terry Slattery is no stranger to this kind of problem. He’s spent his entire career trying to track the ROI on things that aren’t simple dollar questions. He also knows where the real value for something like network automation lies. He’s written a great point detailing some of these points. Here’s a great example of the wisdom he’s sharing with the masses:
Complex processes may take more time for less experienced staff members to perform, whereas a network expert may be able to skip familiar steps. However, assigning senior staff to changes simply to gain efficiency and/or to improve the quality of the outcome may be prohibitively expensive on its own. Furthermore, as process complexity increases, the potential for human error also increases, irrespective of expertise. Your analysis should include both manual process time as well as estimates of time spent on diagnosing and correcting errors.
Read more of Terry’s thoughts in his great blog post on the Netcraftsmen blog here: Evaluating the ROI of Network Automation.