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How do I create proper documentation of network automation?

Despite network automation's advantages, organizations can face disadvantages if they have improper network documentation. These four components can help enable proper documentation.

Network automation can help network teams save time. Yet, if not properly documented, network automation can also turn into a disaster.

Proper documentation of networks requires a few components for teams to gain the most benefits.

1. High-level understanding of manual and automated processes. Network teams should have a high-level overview of the manual process the automation will replace. This overview gets to automation's core purpose. Any major change that could alter a manual process would require modifications in the automated process as well. Network teams should bring documentation of network automation back to the manual steps.

2. Detailed documentation samples. Teams should provide code or configuration samples with detailed notes on the what and why of the process. If the documentation requires a review, it likely means one of the following:

  • The automated process is broken.
  • A change on the network requires a change to the manual and automated processes.
  • An occurring add will require a change to the manual and automated processes.

In all three situations, the automation engineer responsible for adds and changes will likely benefit more from code samples than generic explanations of the automated tasks.

3. Consistent vocabulary across documents. Teams should ensure all documentation of networks uses the same terminology and nomenclature to describe processes, components and tasks the automation configurations will replace. If necessary, network teams can create an automation documentation glossary that lists all terms and definitions in use. Teams should maintain this document as well.

4. Readily available documentation of networks. Lastly, network teams should ensure all network automation documentation is centralized, accessible and editable for those who require the documentation. When a user makes adds or changes, teams should update and reverify the documentation for accuracy.

The best way to accomplish this accessibility is with enterprise change control management tools. These tools can help ensure regular documentation updates.

This was last published in October 2019

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