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What is network automation?

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Network automation uses programmable logic to manage network resources and services. Network automation allows network operations (NetOps) teams to configure, scale, protect, and integrate network infrastructure and application services more quickly than when performed manually by users.

What is networking?

Networking is the use of hardware—like network interface cards, ethernet cables, and switches—as well as software—such as those that create software-defined networking (SDN), software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), and network functions virtualization (NFV)—to transport data between endpoints known as nodes.

What is automation?

Automation is the use of technology to perform tasks with reduced human assistance. IT automation is the use of software to create repeatable instructions and processes to replace or reduce human interaction with IT systems. Automation software works within the confines of those instructions, tools, and frameworks to carry out the tasks with little to no human intervention.

Network automation removes the manual steps necessary to manage networks—such as logging into routers, switches, load balancers, and firewalls to change configurations by hand before logging out. Network automation relies on chained scripts programmed at the command-line interface (CLI) level of an operating system (OS) or prepackaged automation software.

Even as underlying technologies have evolved, network management has remained largely the same for decades. Networks are typically built, operated, and maintained by hand. However, traditional, manual approaches to network configuration and updates are too slow and error-prone to effectively support the needs of rapidly shifting workload requirements. Automating network resource and service management allows network operations teams to become more agile and flexible and effectively support modern business demands.

There are a lot of ways to automate a network, and there are a lot of network components that can be automated. Most network automation solutions exist between 2 extremes: command line automation and automation software.

At the most basic level, you can automate network components using standard CLI commands and arguments. For example, Linux® operating system administrators can use Bash operators to chain events based on previous commands’ successes (&&) or failures (||). Or, users could compile command lists into text files—known as shell scripts—that can be repeatedly carried out all at once with a single execution command.

Automation software products can consolidate network tasks into prepackaged programs that can be selected, scheduled, and executed from the app’s front end. For example, Red Hat® Ansible® Automation Platform can be used to automate network permissions and networks by packaging application programming interfaces (APIs), plug-ins, inventories, and modules into playbooks that users can browse, select, and run to automate network configuration, security, orchestration, provisioning, and more across service providers like AWS, Microsoft, and Cisco.

What's the difference between Ansible and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform?

What network operations can be automated?

Network configurations

Manual network configuration can result in inconsistencies, misconfigurations, and network instabilities, making it difficult to deliver the high level of service needed for digital business operations. Automation helps you standardize network management processes to enforce best practices. Network operations teams can rapidly and easily deliver services at scale and reduce mean time to resolution (MTTR) for service interruptions.

Load balancing and failover

Application loads must be balanced across infrastructure to optimize performance and costs. Manually balancing loads can lead to poor application performance and delay failover when system problems arise. Automating your load balancers eliminates the need for manual intervention, permitting faster ongoing adjustments and failover for improved application performance and reliability.

While telecommunications service providers were among the first to adopt network automation to improve digital networks, companies in every industry have turned to automation to build more efficient, reliable networks. To learn about some practical examples, explore the two case studies below: 

Southwest Airlines

The airline saved at least 5 months in building and testing network device configurations—and continues to expand automation to more efficiently manage over 5,000 network devices.


Dutch rail operator ProRail expanded its use of automation to accelerate network operations and move toward a more efficient, integrated approach to IT processes.

Because our automation solutions follow a development model that takes the best aspects of open source software—innovation and collaboration—and packages them into enterprise open source products.

But even after they’re tested, packaged, and released, the source code behind each Red Hat product remains open. So you can modify any aspect of our tools. And the playbooks behind our automation platform are always evolving as we help users improve (and add) playbooks in real time.

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform is a subscription product that includes all the tools needed to implement enterprise-wide automation, including playbooks, a visual dashboard, an event-driven solution, and analytics. You’ll get certified content from our robust partner ecosystem, access to hosted management services, life cycle technical support, and expert knowledge gained from our success with thousands of customers.

How much time can automation save you?

Answer a few short questions to find out how much time you could save by using Ansible Automation Platform across your organization.

Red Hat offers interactive labs in a preconfigured Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform environment. You can use these labs to experiment, practice, and learn how to create, manage, and scale network and IT practices efficiently—from rapid development and deployment, to simplified operations and analytics, to consistent end-to-end user experiences.

Keep reading


Learning Ansible basics

Ansible automates IT processes like provisioning and configuration management. Learn the basics of Ansible with this introduction to key concepts.


What's an Ansible Playbook?

An Ansible Playbook is a blueprint of automation tasks, which are IT actions executed with limited manual effort across an inventory of IT solutions.


Why choose Red Hat for automation?

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform includes all the tools needed to share automation across teams and implement enterprise-wide automation.

More about automation


A unified solution that combines the security, features, integrations, and flexibility needed to scale automation across domains, orchestrate essential workflows, and optimize IT operations for AI adoption. 

Engagements with our strategic advisers who take a big-picture view of your organization, analyze your challenges, and help you overcome them with comprehensive, cost-effective solutions.



Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform: A beginner’s guide

Customer Success Stories

See how our customers have used Ansible Automation Platform to accelerate IT operations


Code Comments Season 2: Hear how organizations have adapted to do more with IT automation 


Learning hub

Explore learning materials and tools designed to help you use Ansible Automation Platform, organized by the tasks you need to accomplish. 

Interactive Labs

These interactive scenarios let you start learning how to use Ansible Automation Platform for a variety of use cases—in your own browser. 

Technical Overview

This series of on-demand videos introduces you to using Ansible Automation Platform for a variety of use cases across IT environments.


This course will teach you how to automate Linux® system administration tasks with the latest version of Ansible Automation Platform.