Towards the Automation of Data Networks
A wide variety of enterprises, corporations, communications service providers (CSPs), and experts have highlighted the difficulty of managing modern networks. These networks exhibit high-impact technological innovations, such as cloud computing, mobility, new traffic profiles, network functions virtualization (NFV), the Internet of things (IoT), Big Data, among others. Network automation is a methodology in which physical and virtual network devices are automatically configured, provisioned, managed, and tested using software. Large enterprises such as Cisco, Juniper, Red Hat, and VMWare offer proprietary solutions for network automation. Additionally, the number of tools assisting in network automation has recently increased. Taken together, these developments have changed the way administrators build and manage networks. In this regard, most large communications operators are now working and moving toward truly autonomous networks that will eventually require an intensive use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Advances in the area show that three specific segments —CSPs, Cloud Providers, and Enterprises— are all at different stages of automation maturity. Over time, network automation is expected to reach smaller organizations as well. This paper presents a specialized, detailed and current technical study on the state of the art in network automation, highlighting the trends observed in information technology (IT) environments, enterprises and communications operators —which are closely involved in this technology—, and concludes with a discussion on automation tools.
 MIT Technology Review. URL: https://www.technologyreview.com/
 Ericcson. URL: https://www.ericsson.com/en
 Bodafone. URL: https://www.vmware.com/content/microsites/possible/stories-uk/vodafone.html
 Blue Planet Technology. URL: https://www.blueplanet.com/technology/
 TM Forum. URL: https://www.tmforum.org/collaboration/autonomous-networks-project
 Cisco, What is Network Automation?. URL: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/automation/network-automation.html
 T. Grahek, and A. Leong, “Network Automation for Design, Build and Operation at Scale,” in 2019 Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition (OFC), San Diego, CA, USA, 2019.
 D. Chen, D. Gao, W. Quan, Q. Wang, G. Liu, and H. Zhang, “Promoting Network Automation for Heterogeneous Networks Collaboration,” in 2020 IEEE 92nd Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC2020-Fall), Victoria, BC, Canada, 2020.
 A. Mahmood Mazin, R. Ab Rahman, M. Kassim, and A. Razak Mahmud, “Performance Analysis on Network Automation Interaction with Network Devices Using Python,” in 2021 IEEE 11th IEEE Symposium on Computer Applications & Industrial Electronics (ISCAIE), Penang, Malaysia, 2021.
 S. Tang, H. Liang, M. Wang, T. Li, and Z. Zhu, “Closed-loop Network Automation with Generic Programmable Data Plane (G-PDP),” in 2021 International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks (ICCCN), Athens, Greece, 2021.
 L. Militano, A. Zafeiropoulos, E. Fotopoulou, R. Bruschi, and C. Lombardo, “AI-powered Infrastructures for Intelligence and Automation in Beyond-5G Systems,” in 2021 IEEE Globecom Workshops (GC Wkshps), Madrid, Spain, 2021.
 OpenAI. URL: https://openai.com/
 China Mobile. URL: https://www.chinamobileltd.com/en/global/home.php
 China Telecom Corporation Limited. URL: https://www.chinatelecom-h.com/en/global/home.php
 The 2020 State of Network Automation. URL: https://www.juniper.net/content/dam/www/assets/ebooks/us/en/the-2020-state-of-network-automation-report.pdf
 IDG Connect. URL: https://www.idgconnect.com/article/3639541/network-automation-where-do-you-begin.html
 Ansible Tower. URL: https://www.ansible.com/products/controller
 SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager. URL: https://www.solarwinds.com/es/network-configuration-manager
 Juniper Paragon Automation. URL: https://www.juniper.net/us/en/products/network-automation.html