Cisco and HP lead the race in large- and midsize-enterprise network automation, gathering the highest number of selections for in-use implementations and future project plans. HP received the most citations for current use, but is closely followed by Cisco, which has enough in-pilot/evaluation projects to put itself ahead once these plans are converted into implementation. If the two incumbents convert all their future project plans into use, the two giants will gain almost the same number of implementations, further intensifying the rivalry in the space. SolarWinds and homegrown approaches, which share third place in use, are other alternatives gaining traction in network automation.
Network automation enables new efficiencies that about 27% our study respondents are already taking advantage of in 1H 2014, in addition to 8% reporting future project plans. With network automation, end users don’t have to wait for staff to complete outstanding tasks before starting work on new requests. The technology can improve service, lower costs and reduce security risks. Spending intentions remain positive in 2014 and get stronger for the technology in 2015. About 10% of decision-makers are increasing spending on network automation this year, and 13% plan to do the same next year, while those with budget cuts remain constant at just 1% for both years.
Network managers should evaluate existing environments to see what approach to network automation is most suitable given existing assets, employee skill sets and strategies. Cisco and HP have gained traction in the space, and we expect the rivalry to continue in the future, but as IT environments evolve, increased competition from other vendors may follow.
Network managers had the following comments about network automation:
- “Very interested in it. It would help us a great deal. It would be included in one of our growth projects.” – LE, Energy/Utilities
- “It’s more from a compliance perspective, that’s where you’ll see them [network automation] playing a major role; it compares and looks at configurations from a security perspective.” – LE, Other
- “I wish it [SDN] was in plan. That would allow us to do some better automation. There’s always this desire to have a self-service portal where people can go and say, ‘I need this service and this application on my PC.’ It would be really neat if more automated tools were in place to build those environments.” – LE, Consumer Goods/Retail