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This paper discusses the authors' experience of developing an active network management system for use by two different distribution network operators (DNOs) in the UK with differing network management requirements. The paper describes the fundamental building blocks of AuRA-NMS (autonomous regional active network management system) and how their development was driven by the requirements of the partner DNOs. Practical experience of use of AI techniques to provide AuRA-NMS with its required intelligence and how that intelligence was distributed within the network is discussed. The paper also discusses the different deployment approaches taken by the two DNOs.