Should Your Enterprise Implement Network Orchestration Tools?

Discover the power of network orchestration for enterprises. Streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and navigate network complexity with ease.

Written by Editorial Staff. Last Updated:

Today’s enterprise networks span hybrid and multi-cloud environments where applications and data must move seamlessly between network segments. Services and apps need to scale up and down quickly to meet spikes in traffic. 

You must account for various internal and external devices, wifi networks, and geographical locations. That means your business needs a network orchestration platform to automate, manage, and optimize your network on the fly. 

Network orchestration has become popular as networks get more extensive and complex. It coordinates the management of one or more network interactions between people, devices, and systems, ensuring they are secure, efficient, and effective. 

Here’s a look at how network orchestration streamlines complex network operations, reduces the risk of errors and downtime, improves IT efficiency, and scales your business. 

What is network orchestration?

Network orchestration is a method of automating and coordinating tasks across multiple network devices and systems. It allows for automating entire rule-based processes involved in setting up and managing network devices, applications, and services​.

Unlike network automation, which typically refers to automating individual tasks, network orchestration involves automating complex processes and workflows across various network components. It’s like the difference between a musician playing a solo and an entire orchestra performing a symphony.

Let’s examine why your business would want to implement network orchestration. 

Purpose of network orchestration

Network orchestration aims to simplify, automate, and enhance the management of complex network environments. When you unpack that, there’s a list of common reasons CTOs and CIOs use network orchestration platforms.

Efficiency: Network orchestration automates repetitive tasks, saving time and reducing the likelihood of human error. By eliminating the need for manual intervention in routine tasks, your IT staff can focus on more strategic initiatives.

Speed and agility: With network orchestration, you can rapidly accomplish tasks such as deploying and configuring new network devices or services. This allows for faster response times to business needs or network conditions changes.

Scalability: Network orchestration can easily manage large, complex environments, making it easier for businesses to scale their operations. As the network grows, the orchestration system can handle the increased complexity without requiring proportional increases in human resources.

Interoperability: Network orchestration manages and coordinates interactions between different types of devices, domains, and systems. This is crucial in today’s hybrid and multi-cloud environments, where applications and data must move seamlessly between network segments in real time.

Visibility and control: Network orchestration tools include features for monitoring and reporting on network status and performance. This gives network administrators better visibility into their networks and more control over network operations.

Service assurance: Network orchestration ensures that network services meet their expected performance levels and service level agreements (SLAs). By automatically managing and optimizing network resources, orchestration ensures critical applications and services always have the necessary resources.

How does network orchestration work?

Network orchestration uses software to automate the configuration, management, and coordination of various network devices and services. The process breaks down into a few key steps:

Defining policies and workflows: Network orchestration starts with the definition of policies and workflows. Policies are the rules that dictate the network’s operation under different conditions, while workflows are sequences of tasks executed to achieve specific goals. For instance, a policy might specify that a certain application’s traffic should always be prioritized, while a workflow could describe the steps to deploy a new network service.

Translating policies and workflows into actions: The orchestration software translates these high-level policies and workflows into specific actions that network devices can carry out. These actions could include configuring settings on a switch, setting up a firewall rule, or deploying a virtual network function.

Executing actions on network devices: The orchestration software communicates with network devices using standard protocols (like SNMP, NETCONF, or REST APIs), instructing them to execute the desired actions. This could involve various types of devices, including routers, switches, firewalls, servers, and virtual devices in a cloud environment.

Monitoring and adjusting: After executing the desired actions, the orchestration software continuously monitors the network’s state and the performance of network services. If it detects any issues or changes in network conditions, it can automatically adjust the configuration of network devices or the allocation of network resources to address these changes. For example, if it detects an increase in traffic for a certain application, it might automatically allocate more bandwidth.

Reporting and analytics: Many network orchestration tools include features for reporting and analytics. They can collect data on network performance, usage, and security, and use this data to generate reports or insights that can help network administrators make informed decisions.

In essence, network orchestration automates the cycles of monitoring, decision-making, and action that are central to network management. It provides a way to manage complex network environments more efficiently and effectively, enabling your business to keep up with the increasing demands of the digital age.

What’s the difference between network orchestration, network automation, and network management?

All three are related but not interchangeable. Network automation refers to running a single, unmonitored, or managed task automatically. Meanwhile, network orchestration involves automating entire processes and actions across the network. 

Network management, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses the overall day-to-day operations of a network. This process can be improved by applying automation and orchestration​.

Network orchestration

Network orchestration is an important form of automation that has become popular as networks get larger and more complex. It coordinates the management of one or more network interactions between people, devices, and systems. For example, your internal wifi has different rules and protocols than your customer-facing websites. Still, all must be running smoothly and orchestrated in your network topology simultaneously. This ensures all connections and interactions are secure, efficient, and effective​.

Network automation

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

Network management

Network management includes all activities related to managing the day-to-day operations of an enterprise network. Network managers track performance, configure devices, troubleshoot problems, and ensure security. They also watch systems to respond quickly to outages or other issues​.

With network orchestration, you combine all three and remove the manual day-to-day in outdated network management operations.

What are the benefits of network orchestration?

  1. Reduces operational costs: It automates repetitive and routine tasks, saving time and resources.
  2. Boosts IT productivity: Automating tasks frees IT staff to concentrate on more strategic and high-value tasks, enhancing overall productivity.
  3. Enhances business agility: Businesses can respond more swiftly to environmental changes or business needs. You can rapidly deploy new services or adapt network configurations on the fly in response to increased demand.
  4. Improves service quality: By ensuring that network services deliver consistently and perform as expected, network orchestration enhances user experiences and customer satisfaction.
  5. Reduces risk: Automating processes and ensuring consistency minimizes the risk of manual human errors that could lead to network downtime or performance issues.
  6. Aids in compliance: Network orchestration automates compliance tasks and provides audit trails. This helps your business meet industry regulations for network performance and security.
  7. Supports scalability: Network orchestration facilitates the management of increased complexity making operational scaling easier as your business grows.
  8. Sharpens decision-making: Monitoring and reporting capabilities of network orchestration tools provide valuable insights into network performance and usage. These data inform business investments, like where to invest in network upgrades or how to optimize network resources.
  9. Accelerates time to market: Network orchestration’s capacity to rapidly deploy and configure new services enables businesses to bring new products and services to market more quickly.

The main challenges in network orchestration 

Network orchestration has many benefits and unique challenges that organizations must address. 

Here are the main ones you’ll encounter in any industry:

Complexity of the network environment: Modern networks often involve a mix of different types of devices, services, and technologies, as well as different network domains (e.g., data center, WAN, cloud). Managing and coordinating these disparate elements can be complex and challenging.

Integration with existing systems: Network orchestration tools must integrate with various systems, from network hardware to other IT management tools. Ensuring smooth integration can be a significant challenge, particularly in environments with legacy systems.

Managing change: Implementing network orchestration often involves changing existing processes and workflows. This can be a major undertaking, requiring careful planning and management.

Skills and expertise: Network orchestration requires a certain level of technical expertise. Finding or training staff with the necessary skills can be a challenge.

Security and compliance: Ensuring network orchestration tools meet security and compliance requirements can be complex, particularly in regulated industries. It’s crucial to ensure that the automation of network processes does not introduce new security risks or violate compliance rules.

Vendor lock-in: Some network orchestration tools are closely tied to specific hardware or software vendors. This can limit flexibility and lead to vendor lock-in, where a company becomes overly dependent on a particular vendor and finds it difficult to switch to a different solution.

Scalability and performance: As the network grows and becomes more complex, ensuring that the orchestration system can scale to handle the increased demand and maintain adequate performance can be challenging.

8 best practices for network orchestration 

  1. Understand your network: Before implementing network orchestration, deeply understand your current network environment. This includes the types of devices and services you use, the network topology, and any existing automation or management tools. This knowledge will guide you in choosing the right orchestration tools and approach.
  2. Define your goals: Set clear goals for what you hope to achieve with network orchestration. Whether it’s reducing operational costs, improving network performance, or increasing agility, these goals will guide your implementation and help you measure your success.
  3. Plan for integration: Network orchestration tools will need to integrate with various other systems. Plan for this integration from the start, and consider using tools that support open standards and APIs to ease integration.
  4. Start small and scale up: Instead of trying to orchestrate your entire network at once, begin with a small project or a specific area of your network. Once you’ve seen success there, you can gradually scale up your use of network orchestration.
  5. Invest in training: Network orchestration requires technical skills and expertise. Be prepared to invest in training for your IT staff, or to hire new staff with the necessary skills.
  6. Consider security and compliance: Make sure your network orchestration tools and processes meet all relevant security and compliance requirements. This might involve conducting security audits, implementing security controls, or working with a third-party security consultant.
  7. Choose the right tools: Numerous network orchestration tools are available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Consider your specific needs and the characteristics of your network environment when choosing a tool.
  8. Monitor and adjust: After implementing network orchestration, continuously monitor its performance and the state of your network. Be prepared to adjust your approach as needed, based on what you learn.

Powerful network orchestration tools


Ansible Network Automation is a simple, agentless network automation platform that uses the Ansible playbooks to automate networks. It’s an open-source platform that leverages SSH for network automation tasks, eliminating the need for a separate management infrastructure.


  • It’s agentless, eliminating the need for a separate management infrastructure.
  • It leverages SSH for network automation tasks.


  • Ansible requires specific coding knowledge.
  • There’s a steep learning curve for users unfamiliar with the Ansible playbook.


Chef is a powerful automation platform that transforms complex infrastructure into code, bringing your servers and services to life whether you’re operating in the cloud, on-premises, or a hybrid. Chef automates how infrastructure is configured, deployed, and managed across your network, regardless of size.


  • Chef uses a Ruby-based domain-specific language (DSL), which is very flexible and expressive.
  • It provides a lot of control and the ability to handle complex configurations.
  • Chef has a strong community and plenty of resources for learning and troubleshooting.


  • The learning curve for Chef can be steep, particularly if you’re not familiar with Ruby.
  • It requires a Chef server, which can add complexity to your setup​.

TrueSight Orchestration

TrueSight Orchestration, developed by BMC Software, is a comprehensive IT automation and orchestration solution that enables organizations to automate and streamline their IT processes, including network orchestration. It provides a centralized platform for designing, executing, and managing end-to-end workflows, allowing for efficient automation of network tasks and processes.


  • Connects and interacts with diverse IT systems, facilitating end-to-end process automation.
  • Provides a rich library of pre-built workflows for faster implementation.
  • Handles large-scale automation requirements efficiently.


  • Can be complex, requiring time to learn and understand.
  • Setting up and integrating with existing systems may be time-consuming.


ActiveBatch by Redwood is a comprehensive IT automation and job scheduling solution that offers capabilities for network orchestration. While ActiveBatch is primarily known for its broader automation functionalities, it’s a powerful network orchestration platform.

ActiveBatch provides a centralized platform for managing and orchestrating workflows across various network devices and systems. It allows IT teams to automate the configuration, provisioning, monitoring, and management of network devices and services. By leveraging its intuitive visual interface, users can easily design and execute complex network workflows, reducing the need for manual intervention and improving overall operational efficiency.


  • Comprehensive automation capabilities beyond network orchestration
  • Extensibility and integration with various network devices and systems
  • Scalability and performance for enterprise-scale automation needs
  • User-friendly interface for designing and monitoring network orchestration workflows


  • Initial learning curve for mastering the full range of capabilities
  • Cost considerations as a commercial solution

How do I get started with network orchestration?

Emerging technologies like 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) will only increase the complexity of networks and the demand for efficient management. Network orchestration plays a central role in managing these complex environments and enabling the seamless interaction of various devices and systems.

As a CTO or CIO, understanding and leveraging network orchestration is crucial in this rapidly evolving digital landscape. Not only can it dramatically improve the efficiency and reliability of your network operations, but it can also provide a significant competitive edge for your organization.

If you want to connect and orchestrate your networks, data, devices, customer experiences, and IT services, look at ActiveBatch by Redwood. Our network orchestration platform with no-code connectors and low-code REST API adapter gives you end-to-end workflows that span your entire IT environment. Schedule a quick demo to see for yourself.