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Data Center Automation: Why Is it Important?

Updated on Jun 1, 2022
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As the volume of data produced increases and data center speeds up, the manual operation becomes less efficient. Data center automation has become a new trend to break through the situation. What is data center automation and why is it important? This article will give guidance.

 

What Is Data Center Automation?

Data center automation, as the name implies, is the process of managing and automating the data center workflows without human interaction or administration. Data center automation is not about a single task or process in one single stage. It can be carried out in many different directions.

Servers, storage, networking and other management tasks can be automated in data center automation. If there is a need to handle the entire data center operation with automation, different operational frameworks based on various tasks will be required.

According to the forecast by Gartner, 60% of organizations will use infrastructure automation tools to deploy computing by 2025. IDC predicts that 75% of Global 2000 IT organizations will adopt automated operations practices by 2023 to support demand.

 

Why Is Data Center Automation Important?

Obviously, data center automation has become a trend in the coming years. Enterprises had been expected to invest in data center automation several years ago. Why is data center automation so promising? Will enterprise businesses and staff both benefit from it?

  • The exponential expansion of data volume is one of the drivers that transform human administration into automation. With large amounts of data that businesses need to access and process, manual administration is no longer efficient. Thus, data center automation plays its role in accessing workflows and driving the efficiency of the whole data center. Meanwhile, influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses were on the step of moving online and remote working became more common among employees. Traditional manual operation is no longer able to support the needs of rapidly shifting workload requirements.

  • The main beneficiary of data center automation is enterprise businesses. For businesses, data center automation is not only a great way to eliminate time to handle those tasks which cost lots of labor and time. It also helps to reduce human errors, making the administration more concise and work more smoothly.

  • What does data center automation mean for data center managers? Without time consumed in human interactions, data center automation frees these managers from mundane tasks. Hence, it creates more spare time therefore to better leverage time in those business-level problems.

 

How to Realize Data Center Automation?

There are a lot of ways to automate data centers and there are many aspects of data centers that can be automated. The process of realizing data center automation often follows three different steps: planning and evaluation, technology implementation and then coming to use. Across the three stages, there are some challenges and issues network operators must be aware of.

Planning and Evaluation Stage

During the planning and evaluation stage, users need to think about how the automation system will interact with other management systems. It is also a puzzle that many organizations are trying to understand. There are multiple tools for data center automation. Each tool, covering storage, networking, security, and DevOps are managing aspects of data center with their own tool sets.

Cost is another factor in consideration during the planning stage. It may be difficult to clarify the cost of automation implementation and maintenance, especially when many organizations are developing their own automation software.

Automation Implementation Stage

When it comes to data center automation implementation, the network devices and component issues can be troublesome. For example, some devices such as legacy data center switches lack API, making it difficult for network management to communicate with other equipment, which urges data center network engineers to turn to command-line interface (CLI) scripts. What makes it even worse is that network operating system (NOS) can be slightly different from one another in CLI syntax, which adds complexity.

Automation Use Stage

Data center authority and quality issues are the basic problems network engineers encounter when using automation. There are always some things happening beyond our expectations despite the fact that one wants it, such as latency when all steps are executed by automation. When automation in charge of one task fails, the network change will impact the whole performance, which may increase end-user latency. Details of the automatic operation should be exposed to humans managing the overall system so as to maximize the potential of data center automation. Data Cente

 

Data Center Automation Tools

There are tens of thousands of data center automation tools on the market and they can be classified into several types according to their applications. Some of them are tailored for single tasks in data center operation and some make full automation of data center possible. Here we will introduce some network automation tools that are seen most often.

OpenStack is an infrastructure management control system available in a variety of configurations. After setting up, data center managers can use a dashboard control center to manage storage, network and computing activities.

Ansible is an open source tool for software provisioning and configuration management. Many organizations are using Ansible to drive complexity out of their environments and accelerate DevSecOps initiatives. Also, different from other automation platforms. Ansible is built on a powerful agentless framework, thus it is convenient to use the tool in almost any network environment.

Apart from the open-source network automation tools, there are also some vendors introducing their own branded tools, such as Dell, Arista, etc. Engineers can choose networking automation tools based on businesses' requirements.

 

Conclusion

There is no denying that more and more data center systems benefit from automation, such as airflow management automation, power and cooling automation, etc. IT equipment automation has become a reality, with the benefits of increased agility and operational efficiency. Data center automation is the trend, and it is only a matter of time before it is widespread.

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