Programming broadband networks without an IT degree
There are numerous ways to automate a broadband network, but we can broadly put them in two categories: traditional expert scripting and low-code automation tools. What operators need is the latter.
Can I script everything in my network?
You can automate almost any task with the help of traditional scripting. But, if the scripting becomes long and complex, you may actually see a decrease in efficiency. Scripts for different automation stages are not ‘in sync’: scripts fire out commands, but lack the ability to collect feedback, observe network state and are not designed to easily persist a configuration. Frequent changes or updates can also be a hassle. So how do you ensure your automation process does not become a hindrance?
Altiplano saves time… and time again
Low-code development tools are a game-changer in how operators go about writing, testing and executing network automation. Our Altiplano Access Controller cloud platform brings such aids to help operators successfully transition into automation and reduce manual tasks. But there’s one thing that really sets it apart and that is its ability to move forward or backward in time.
Altiplano adds a time dimension, something traditional management systems cannot do. The time dimension allows you to roll back to last week’s configuration in time capsules, access data of nodes which disappeared off the grid, or configure devices that are not even installed yet. Yes, seriously. How’s that for a sci-fi movie script, Christopher Nolan*?
This time-bending ingenuity becomes apparent across both design time and runtime. Many tools have complexity at design time and carry that complexity through to runtime. Not with Altiplano...
In this blog, we will focus on Altiplano’s design time benefits. In a follow-up blog, we will discuss the runtime.
Automation in design time
Automation engines should give good visibility into what is happening during execution. This must be modeled upfront in design time, allowing you to zoom in and drill down easily, without time-wasting manual verification steps if things go wrong in runtime.
Altiplano enables automation that can be repeated and adapted for a vast permutation of needs, services, and processes. With its low-code development principles, you can create automation code very quickly, reducing traditional programming efforts.
Intent-based automation is a new type of automation. It incorporates network awareness and service assurance tasks, saving multiple steps of configuring devices and services. The ability to self-correct, automatically find misconfigurations, and fix them via auto-generated audit facilities and coordinated control loops makes it ideal for repetitive and dynamic processes that are a drain on resources.
We’ve put a catalogue of pre-defined intent-based automation blueprints into Altiplano to get you started with plug-and-play provisioning. You can customize these, create new ones, or mix them together without coding from scratch. You have the flexibility to define what information gets exposed to the OSS and what gets assigned automatically by the business logic. Doing it right in design time avoids wasting time in runtime.
A powerful concept in intent-based automation is the consistency of the task execution. With Altiplano, actions can be started manually, scheduled, or triggered by user-defined alarms. For more complex activities, the Altiplano workflow engine can create troubleshooting tasks, provisioning tasks and chain customer workflows together. To increase robustness, you can add remediation subflows for blockages and shape execution according to the maximum job duration, number of retries, execution success, setting delay, batching, or stop and rollback after failures. By introducing logic that can be changed dynamically, it becomes easy to keep your network healthy and well-audited, allowing you to launch new services every week.
Next time we’ll continue in more detail how things get real in runtime.
Learn more how our Altiplano Developer Portal makes networks easier to program, operate and customize by operators and developers.
* Christopher Nolan is the director of time-bending movies Memento, Interstellar, Tenet and Inception.