Itential Adds Automated Configuration for Multi-Cloud Networks

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By: Mary Jander

Itential last week unveiled a series of improvements to its Itential Automation Platform (IAP) to manage configuration of increasingly complex hybrid networks, including multi-cloud environments.

Why is this important? Because APIs are becoming the lifeblood of automating next-generation networks. It's driving network automation, configuration, and the field of integrated automation platforms (also called IAPs), where configuration is emerging as a crucial focal point for product differentiation.

“Networks are expanding and increasing in complexity,” said Chris Wade, Itential’s CTO, in a prepared statement. “In order to effectively manage this exploded network, networking teams must adopt API-driven automation solutions across all network infrastructure, whether it be physical, virtual, or in any cloud.”

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To this end, Itential has added some improvements to its IAP that, in the vendor’s words, “[allow] networking teams to discover and manage cloud-native network services like VPCs [AWS Virtual Private Clouds] or VNets [Microsoft Azure Virtual Networks] and treat them as if they were traditional network devices and translate their complex configurations into easily understood JSON [JavaScript Object Notation] objects.”

Specific Itential Improvements

In addition to managing public cloud network infrastructure, Itential has improved its low-code Automation Studio package, introduced last year, to design and manage automated configurations.

This low-code approach is one of Itential’s hallmark features, which allows network operators to set up and configure device automation without having to master programming languages or employ application programming interfaces (APIs). Instead, Itential matches the native device APIs, along with shell scripts, Python, Ansible Playbooks, or Terraform Modules, with visual representations that make it easy to manipulate network elements in automation routines, regardless of vendor.

Another new feature called Operations Manager delivers details on how well an automated system is performing and makes recommendations for improvements. It tracks each automation job as it runs and compares the time it takes to complete before and after automation, in order to illustrate the value of the IAP over time.

IT Configuration: An Area Ready for Action

Itential’s IAP upgrades are timely. Organizations worldwide are just starting to scale out their hybrid and multi-cloud networks, and in doing so they’re realizing the need for abstracted ways to manage networking gear. By offering low-code IAPs, Itential and other suppliers such as Amdocs, Ciena (Blue Planet), Netcracker, and UBiqube are eliminating the formidable operational challenges network managers faced pre-automation.

Further, by integrating directly with device APIs, Itential eliminates the need to burden the network with agents and ungainly management protocols — the stuff of legacy net management and the locus of many misconfigurations that can lead to hacking.

Itential has met success in large enterprise installations. Lumen (formerly Centurylink), for example, is using Itential’s Automation Platform to enable its enterprise, hyperscaler, and service provider customers to orchestrate the managed services Lumen offers via its network of metro edge nodes.

And “America’s largest domestic airline” (American Airlines?) has reportedly adopted Itential’s IAP to configure 3,500 routers.

Itential is continually upgrading its products, sometimes making incremental changes that don’t seem monumental. But configuration improvements could be among the most important items in the vendor’s portfolio as multi-cloud networking progresses. And as the market heats up, it’s likely Itential will accelerate its upgrades. Stand by!