Modern networks, particularly those implemented in data center environments, support rapid and on-demand provisioning of virtual servers, high-availability physical infrastructure, and incredible flexibility in the deployment of applications. However, for many enterprises, administrators of both physical and virtual networking components struggle to keep up with the demands of users and highly dynamic server configurations. The degree of manual network configuration is badly out of sync with the virtualized environments in which most enterprises now operate.
Enter network automation and orchestration, a set of tools that can dramatically simplify network management, reduce the occurrence of human error, and ensure that networks can be as dynamic as the servers, applications, and users they support. This paper explores automation and orchestration tools as well as the architectural simplifications that enable these tools to work well, paving the way for software-defined networks (SDNs) and greater operational efficiencies across the enterprise.