Data Center Processes and Procedures and Why You Need Automation

Micro Focus Contributor
Micro Focus Contributor
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man inspecting a data center server room

 
The data center is the nerve center of your business operations. You need people to execute your business strategy but even the most talented team would be hamstrung if it’s not backed by the velocity, scale, power, and precision that technology provides. The faster your data center responds to requests, the more competitive your business is bound to be in a world where speed is essential. 

But while improved data center performance is a desirable goal, it’s expected to occur in a context of immense pressure for IT to spend less. CIOs, CTOs and other executives responsible for technology spending are increasingly urged to maintain or lower their budgets. So, to achieve data center performance that satisfies both customer expectations and budgetary constraints, data center procedures and processes must be agile. Agile here could mean ensuring end users have access to self-service options, requests are responded to quickly, developers enjoy automated application delivery infrastructure, and that data center workloads are assigned on-demand. Hence the need for data center automation. 

What is Data Center Automation

Data center automation is a process through which routine data center policies, procedures, and workflows are executed and managed without human intervention. The automation can occur across computing, storage, and network layers in both physical and cloud environments. It can take different forms; from automating basic data center processes such as server monitoring and password rest policies, to more sophisticated data center procedures like provisioning, troubleshooting, validating, compliance, governance, and retirement. 

Why You Need Data Center Automation

Data center automation is crucial in giving the business the ability to compete effectively and achieve the desired results. It enhances the value of technology investment. Here’s a look at the more specific reasons why every business should automate their data center access processes and procedures. 

Efficiency Gains

Each time someone initiates data center standard operating procedures such as resource provisioning, reconfiguring or removal, a significant number of man-hours are expended. The actual time spent, and the people involved will depend on the complexity of the process involved. Nevertheless, in the absence of automation, this process is laborious. It wastes precious time and human resources that would be better off applied elsewhere. 

Automation gets rid of these frequent, repetitive tasks from the job description of system and network administrators thus improving the overall efficiency of the workforce. It pulls away IT staff from routine processes so they can concentrate on more strategic and longer-term goals. 

Reduced Costs Over the Long Term

For a data center, except for power consumption and staffing expenses, resource management and maintenance is the next largest cost. Automating may not seem to reduce the cost much in the short term since, individually, these expenses aren’t that large. Nevertheless, they add up fast over the long term. Automation of resource management and maintenance coupled with more effective deployment of resources can drastically slash capital and operational costs in the long term. 

Increased Utilization

System administrators often see virtualization as a powerful tool for improving data center efficiency. Nevertheless, virtualization is unlikely to realize the envisaged benefits if it isn’t accompanied by data center policy automation. Virtualization will be underutilized if administrators still need to manually manage workflows. 

Automation of data center policies ensures resources are utilized optimally and that idle time and waste is reduced. The dynamic management and faster provisioning of workloads can effectively increase resource use. 

Reduce Turnaround Times

Today’s customers and users are accustomed to quick, near real-time service. Informing users or customers that a system change they requested will take weeks to implement is bound to be met with incredulous surprise. There’s an expectation that all but a tiny proportion of turnaround times will be in the minutes as opposed to hours, days, or weeks. 

Speeding up data center delivery times is difficult if the process is dependent on manual action. Automated data center policies minimize or eliminate human intervention thus accelerate response times and improve customer satisfaction. 

Optimize Expenditure

We mentioned earlier that technology managers face relentless pressure to maintain or reduce their budgets. This largely stems from the competitive forces the business faces in the market. Customers are demanding lower prices and yet, simultaneously, better products and services. To maintain or grow their profitability in this environment, businesses must leverage the power of technology. Automating data center policies and procedures enables IT teams to do more with less. 

Reduction in Errors

System and network administrators are constantly inundated with requests from within and outside the organization. They can easily get bogged down with chasing their tails and putting out fires. No human is infallible so any process that has a manual component is prone to error. It’s worse when there are huge work volumes involved. 

Persons charged with executing a certain data center task could easily forget or disregard one step. Errors themselves can delay delivery and waste opportunities but there’s also the time and cost required to rectify them. Automation eliminates the need for human participation in a wide range of data center workflows. With tasks left to machines, the risk of errors is greatly reduced. 

Truly 24/7 Operations

Systems don’t need to take a break or log off for the night. Automating data center access procedures means requests can be received and acted on any time. They are no longer limited to ‘business hours’. 

Better Incident Management

Business systems are continuously threatened by hackers, malware, rogue employees, and disaster events. The time between when a security incident occurs and when system administrators catch wind of it and take corrective action is crucial. Every minute of reaction delay means more time for the attacker or malware to escalate their privileges and further their nefarious minds. Where a disaster is involved, a delay means customers waiting longer for operations to be restored. 

Automating data center incident management (i.e. incidence detection, monitoring, response, and remediation) speeds up reaction times and lowers the potential damage the organization experiences. It improves data security and kick-starts the recovery. 

Integrate Disparate Systems

No data center relies on technology from just one vendor. Keeping tabs on this plethora of data center applications, platforms, and servers is difficult if you must sign in to each one separately to carry out routine data center operations. Automation can bolster operational efficiency, cohesion, and collaboration by integrating these multiple platforms. It ensures digital assets can be managed via a single dashboard or eliminates the need for human intervention. 

Start Small

Data center policies automation can bring unprecedented efficiency to your IT processes and procedures. But if you aren’t ready to go all in from the get-go, you can stagger adoption. For instance, you could begin with infrastructure automation then expand this to cloud or application automation. Bite-sized chunks provide the most return as any mistakes, miscalculations, and misconfigurations can be corrected before they are applied to all data center policies. Instead of creating a single massive workflow, you can dismantle data center processes into micro-services. By creating small workflows at this micro-service level you can combine them together to recreate chains of actions. 

Customized Solutions is the Name of the Game

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to data center policies automation. Evaluate your broader IT strategy and align your automation plans with this. There’ll inevitably be a learning curve as you gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Automation is a continuous process wherein organizations must be constantly on the lookout for opportunities of building on your gains. Micro Focus data center automation tools give your systems an agility that accelerates data center responses but at a pace conducive to your organization’s requirements. 

The Case for Data center policies Automation is Compelling

The enormous growth of data and the rapid increase in the processing capacity of computing devices means manual execution of data center policies such as system troubleshooting, remediation, and monitoring places the business at risk. Many organizations have pockets of data center automation. Much of this will be in the compute and storage elements with the networking aspect often lagging far behind. And even in businesses whose data centers are highly automated, don’t be surprised to find IP addresses are still assigned manually. Islands of automation are usually the result of the absence of a holistic solution that can bring together all aspects of data center access and management. Also, large enterprises are inherently risk-averse (which is understandable since they have so much to lose if things go wrong). Still, with the benefits of automation more apparent than ever, there’s a push to bolster enterprise efficiency by automating data center policies and procedures. 

Learn more about Micro Focus Data Center Automation to automate IT compliance and vulnerability risk management across your hybrid enterprise

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