Juniper Networks Unveils Bots to Automate Network Management

Mike Vizard

It’s clear by now that bots are about to play a much bigger role in the management of IT. Juniper Networks today brought that fact home to enterprise networks with the launch of The Self-Driving Network with Juniper Bots.

At the same time, Juniper Networks announced it is expanding the number of application programming interfaces (APIs) it exposes via a Juniper Extension Toolkit to allow developers to exercise more control over routing functions.

Donyel Jones-Williams, ‎director of product marketing management at Juniper Networks, says the bots are really a series of applications that Juniper developed to automate specific tasks. The first two applications are Contrail Intent Bots to automate network peering and the setting up of tests, and AppFormix Analytics Bots, which employ machine learning algorithms to make configuration changes based on insights gained via the AppFormix real-time analytics application that Juniper gained when it acquired AppFormix last year.

“These bots reinforce our commitment to self-driving networks,” says Jones-Williams.

Rather than being perceived as a threat to their jobs, Jones-Williams says most IT professionals view bots as an opportunity to automate rote tasks, which in turn frees them up to concentrate on more important tasks.

A recent survey conducted by Juniper Networks found that 43 percent noted that the lack of internal education and skillsets prevents the adoption of network automation, while 33 percent cited a lack of an integrated end-to-end solution as a barrier to network automation efforts. Jones-Williams says the bots that Juniper Networks is developing will make it simpler for IT organizations to automate networking tasks without having to master IT automation frameworks such as Ansible or Chef, or programming languages such as Python.

It may take a while for networking professionals to get used to the idea of relying on a bot to perform a task. But given the rate at which developers are making requests for changes to network configurations to accommodate new applications and updates, the time has come for hard-pressed networking administrators to rely more on bots as a form of digital labor if for no other reason than to simply keep pace.


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