Whether the force is strong with you or not, there is a lot you can learn from R2-D2 and BB-8 about network automation, says Joe Marsella, CTO EMEA at Ciena.
Star Wars is a global phenomenon, raking in billions over the last four decades and making its creator George Lucas a very rich man. Network automation, on the other hand, is a far less sensational topic despite being one of the biggest industry trends amongst IT professionals at the moment. However, there are parallels between network automation and the robots of Star Wars. From R2-D2, the charming can-shaped blue droid of the original trilogy, to the quirky orange BB-8 in the saga’s latest instalment, the evolution of these droids mirrors the transition from traditional to programmable networks.
Agile networks: a new hope
In an early chase scene in The Force Awakens, when one of the space ships is flipped, sending passengers and cargo flying, BB-8 quickly adapts to this unexpected situation; stabilising itself by firing hooks into the fuselage of a space ship. This keeps it from being tossed around and getting damaged, which would have been R2-D2’s likely fate had it been on-board.
While there’s usually less action involved, managed services providers (MSPs) or network administrators can often find themselves in similar situations where they need to adapt to unexpected circumstances, like sudden traffic spikes from over-the-top (OTT) services. Where traditional networks, just like R2-D2, often struggle to react quickly, automated networks are far more agile because they leverage advanced software capabilities to adapt to sudden surges in demand or unexpected obstacles. Just like BB-8, these can put measures in place almost instantaneously to deal with any situation. This level of agility is a key asset for BB-8 and a capability that IT professionals need to support their business and should expect their networks to have too.