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Defrag This - Advantages of Automating Network Tasks with Python

Greg Mooney| February 05 2018

| Podcasts, IT insights

automating-network-tasks-with-python

With so many available languages, knowing which one to choose for automation can be overwhelming. In our interview with Eric Chou from A10 Networks, we learn advantages of using Python Networking to automate tasks as engineers.

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With so many available languages, knowing which one to choose for automation can be overwhelming.

In our interview with Eric Chou from A10 Networks, we learn advantages of using Python Networking to automate tasks as engineers.

  1. Advantages to Python
  2. The Python Community
  3. Tasks for Automating
  4. Network Security Application

Eric Chou didn’t grow up with the ambition of being a developer.

As a matter of fact, he graduated with a degree in finance. After multiple internships in the finance industry and one in the IT space, he quickly learned of the freedom to operate that was available to young employees in IT.

Eric jumped on board in IT and hasn’t worked a finance job since his graduation with the degree!  

Throughout his IT career, Eric has grown to become a Python enthusiast. He’s even written the book on it - Mastering Python Networking.

When we think of Python, we tend to think of app development. So what are the advantages to using Python in automation?

1) Advantages to Python

When we asked Eric why use Python in automation when most often we think of Python for app development, his response was, “Why can’t you?”

He went on to allude to a study that concluded that, Python was the language of choice for 8 out of the top 10 computer science departments in universities including MIT and UC Berkley.”

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With Python being so widely understood among top universities, there becomes a community of developers that makes it more attractive to use Python as a tool. He also notes that when it comes to automation, it’s mostly a personal choice. The ideology of Python works for Eric.

Eric stated, “You actually see the “zen” of python poem. And two of the, I guess, comments within that poem that really speak to me is explicit is better than implicit and simple is better than complex.”

Essentially, go with the option that works for you and how your brain works. 

2) The Python Community

The Python community is also an advantage. Rarely do we talk about the inclusive nature of coding language communities, but it is an excellent point to think through.

Eric noted that, “One thing that was really attractive for me was the user base for python. And how easy it is, that inclusiveness. The ideology within python to be inclusive.

He was specifically referring to the inclusion of women in the Python community. At PyCon in Portland, Eric recalled that around 40% of the speakers were women and there’s childcare at the convention. To some, this may not mean much. Again, it’s about personal choice. For others, community matters and Python is on to something.

3) Tasks for Automating

If there is a task that a human has to repeatedly do, automate it with Python. It seems simple, but that’s really it. Python has the capability to automate virtually any task. 

Learn how to automate IT tasks with PowerShell. Download this eBook. 

Because there are so many developers that have utilized Python, there’s a good chance someone out there has developed something you can use. And if you haven’t been able to find it, great! This is your opportunity to develop it and stand out.

Furthermore, Eric acknowledged that, “If you solve your own problem, it’s so much more motivating. You will go through all of these walls that are in front of you if you solve your own problem because you have to.”

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4) Network Security

A10 Networks is a cyber security organization. So naturally we dove into the topic of network security. When we think about cyber security and the IT blacklists that exist, we can utilize Python to go and get those web resources. If there’s a large net, you can grab multiple lists.

This is where automation and network security comes into play.

You will want to construct your own packets and have the versatility that meets your projects needs. You can use Python to consolidate and deduplicate lists. Eric noted that he was also a big fan of Scapy.

Python offers versatility, a broad community and endless opportunities to automate to meet your project needs. What could opportunities could the use of Python unlock for you?

Eric after the show made one small correction to when he was talking about language ideology between Perl and Python. He quoted Guido van Rossum for ‘one best way to do things’. He actually meant to quote Larry Wall, creator of Perl, who was a Musician who encourages ‘many ways to do the same thing’.

Guido van Rossum is a mathematician who follows “one best way to do things”. 

This post is based on a podcast interview with Eric Chou from A10 Networks. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Defrag This.

Topics: Podcasts, IT insights

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THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY Greg Mooney

Greg is a technologist and data geek with over 10 years in tech. He has worked in a variety of industries as an IT manager and software tester. Greg is an avid writer on everything IT related, from cyber security to troubleshooting.

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