IT departments and data center personnel take on an ever-increasing set of tasks in today’s world. From compliance to application management, manual data management is more than a full-time job. If your data center team needs extra support, consider the opportunities in data center automation.
Define Data Center Automation
Companies define “data center” in several different ways. It may refer to a network mainframe, a set of servers for data management, virtualization, and/or cloud infrastructures. Automation can involve a single task in a daily workflow or most data center operations. When many companies consider automation, they search for the most cost-effective and productivity-enhancing solutions available on the market.
A company could hire a third party to take over data center management, but many want to keep as many processes in-house as possible. As an alternative to managed services, automation can eliminate errors, save time, and optimize processes for better cost-savings.
Explore Data Center Automation in Different Areas
Since data center automation can take many forms, consider the impact of each activity on daily workflow. Some automation activities will yield a higher rate of return than others will. Consider these data center automation areas as you explore services and solutions providers:
- Repetitive tasks. Many data center personnel invest in automation to handle boring, repetitive tasks that can decrease morale and increase the likelihood of errors. Automation tools and suites for repetitive tasks may assist with configuration and provisioning tasks, as well as data center fabric deployment. While many repetitive tasks work well when automated, some—such as access control—require human oversight. Only automate tasks that enhance risk management and streamline workflows.
- System refreshes, upgrades, and other performance-affecting processes. Some IT professionals still plan to work into the wee hours of the morning to run system maintenance activities without disrupting end-users. Scheduling backup processes, refreshes, and system updates and automating the activities enables IT staff members to work a typical day instead of pulling an all-nighter.
Automation tools from SAP, Brocade, and HP, among others, provide automation support for many ongoing performance-affecting activities. SAP’s SAP HANA tool allows data center professionals to simulate processes and plan out activities without disrupting end-users or manually completing the process.
- Tools for data center management. OpenStack is one of the better-known infrastructure management control systems available in a variety of configurations After setup, data center professionals can use a dashboard control center to manage storage, network, and computing activities.
Companies that choose to invest in an operating system such as OpenStack can use the software to either build a cloud environment or to simplify traditional data center management. Many data center management companies, including HP, Avaya, and Cisco, use OpenStack tools as part of their automation solutions and services. Other data center management tools include Puppet and Microsoft System Center.
- Application lifecycle management (ALM). Many IT department professionals manage applications from start to finish within a data center environment. Automation tools for ALM processes from HP, IBM, and other well-known names streamline processes, workflows, and information management over an application’s lifetime. These software automation tools can improve code quality for decreased downtime and enhanced customer and employee satisfaction on a daily basis.
- Compliance and security management. Companies that handle sensitive information, including financial or health records, must also consider regulatory compliance when evaluating automation tools. Automation suites, including patch management tools, data access log management, and scanning tools, take the burden of oversight off of IT professionals’ shoulders.
Companies that must comply with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and other industry standards often need automated tools to avoid costly consequences. One data breach or negative audit can cost an organization millions of dollars in remediation. Compliance automation specialists such as OnRamp offer complete data center infrastructure and compliance support for secure business management.
Automation can improve each area of data center management. Every company must consider its own budgetary restraints, manual management capabilities, and future goals to determine where and how to implement automation.
Is Data Center Automation Worth the Investment?
As more companies capture data through IoT devices, data management’s role in business grows. Every IT team needs the ability to tap into and use the power of data and processes to drive enterprise-wide activities and goals. I believe data center automation is a must-have asset that will not only decrease the burden of work on IT departments, but also yield greater insights and innovation. Use technology to make business simpler and more effective. Explore the possibilities of data center automation in your own IT department.
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Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.