By: Larry Lunetta, Vice President of Portfolio Solutions Marketing at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company\nAre bots all you need? The world is in a lather about how AI will replace all things human, including network support. While AI can be very helpful in eliminating mundane, tedious tasks of data gathering and triage and even some simple network troubleshooting, it is not a substitute for personal and bespoke support services. Even with state-of-the-art data science, solely relying on AI bots for Tier 1 and Tier 2 support will often lead to endless phone trees, long lead times, wasted time and effort, unsolved issues, and worst of all\u2013disgruntled, unsatisfied customers, employees, and partners.\nSimply put, organizations should not have to deal exclusively with bots for support as a frontline strategy.\nMission Critical Networks Need Mission Critical Support\nBefore organizations even get to actual network operations, there is planning, design, and deployment. Here, documentation is the foundation of great support. Verified reference designs and comprehensive user guides go a long way towards smooth network operation; they are by-products of a mature, proven network solution. Often, startups don\u2019t have them. It\u2019s a matter of cost and blind allegiance to the marketing claims for things like AI. And, when the network has an issue, it\u2019s likely there is just an AI bot available to help, whereas a mission-critical networking vendor will have already anticipated and solved the kind of front-end problems that only experience with tens of thousands of customers will provide. Without this foundation, even the best AI systems will fail.\nAt the core of providing effective support for critical issues is personalized, expedited service. In contrast to the wholesale outsourcing of frontline support to bots with little documentation, by combining best practices, best-of-breed technology and a trained staff of experts, this hybrid approach offers the best option for delivering and maintaining mission-critical networks. When a network administrator has an issue that is beyond the automated self-healing functions, the first call should be readily available and start with a dedicated support expert, who will know exactly how the network is configured, its history, and they should have all of the pertinent incident data at the proverbial fingertips. Issues can then be quickly resolved and in the event that something unexpected pops up, it can be handled without having to start all over again.\nDealing with Persistent Network Issues \nToday, networks are being stressed like never before with remote work, IoT, cloud migration, and so forth, spawning novel, unforeseen issues that cannot be handled by limited AI-based tools. During these periods, accessing an engineer with intimate knowledge of the system and configuration on-site will be the lifeline network teams need to help diagnose and resolve these types of challenges.\nIs this simply a luddite view of Artificial Intelligence? Why can\u2019t network administrators simply outsource support to an AI system? There are two parts to the answer. First, while AI is a terrific aid to troubleshooting, it will not catch every issue\u2014amazingly, even the most aggressive AI bot proponents claim to handle only two out of three issues. Combine this with the maelstrom of network change in mission-critical circumstances and you have what network engineers call the \u201c2am problem,\u201d when the network is failing a critical business function and the built-in support is not enough. What do they do? Does the administrator tell the CEO that some eponymous AI system was supposed to handle it but can\u2019t? That the roulette wheel landed on one of those issues that the AI can\u2019t fathom?\nThis is why a combination of integrated AI with readily accessible support engineers is the right choice. AI will get better and that will free both the network admin and support services to work on extending and optimizing network services.\u00a0 But to avoid a HAL-like experience when it matters most, AI and human support must work together whenever they are needed.\nAn Integrated Approach to Support Services\nConcerned about putting the network in the hands of unproven AI bots? Learn more about Aruba\u2019s hybrid approach, including how it combines the best technology with personal service and engineering expertise to provide effective, around-the-clock service.\nVisit Aruba Operational Support for more information.