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Data Center Automation—A Look at TCO in Five Years

By: Ernest Sampera on April 8, 2015

What's the total cost of ownership (TCO) for your data center? As noted by a recent Data Center Knowledge article, many companies don't know their true TCO, instead relying on CapEx as a stop-gap measurement tool. But a significant market shift is underway as technologies like data center automation make infrastructure more affordable and total costs easier to manage—here's a quick look at what the future holds for data center TCO.


According to research from Markets and Markets, traditional blade server sales will remain strong through 2019 with 10.25 percent CAGR. The firm found that enterprises continue to choose blade servers as a way to support next-generation, virtualized applications. And while companies benefit from hardware investment for software support, the research also notes that “the purchase of a blade server unit is an expensive investment that locks a user into the unit that has been purchased, without availability for either new vendor integration or hardware updating.” In other words, while buying blade servers offers significant short-term benefits, TCO may not fare so well.

Five-Year Plan?

But that's not the whole story. Other data from Markets and Markets indicates that Data Center automation is also on the rise—and to the tune of 25 percent year-over-year by 2019. According to the research firm, “major vendors are aggressively investing and rigorously working towards building cost effective data center solutions, in an effort to reduce the overall cost incurred by end-users,” and this means bigger investments in automation.

So what does this mean for your TCO? First, is the obvious benefit: with fewer processes that require human oversight, the total cost of data center ownership should decrease. This is especially true when it comes to managed data centers such as colocation sites. These already have a smaller TCO footprint since physical space requirements, power and security are all handled by a provider. Adding automation improves the bottom line and gives companies more room to spend on other IT initiatives such as network-level abstraction or hybrid cloud services.

Automation also comes with a secondary benefit: improved metrics. Process automation in the data center provides a clear picture of what's happening, when it's happening, and what it means for your bottom line. Instead of tasking in-house IT professionals with handling software deployments, hardware support, and cost-benefit analysis, automation provides a bottom-up look at how your data center solutions are performing and where they need improvement. The result? Greater control over spending and improved TCO.

In the next five years, expect the TCO conversation to shift away from simple cost analysis to include a greater reliance on automation as the foundation for informed action. Simply put, solid automation processes mean streamlined data center function and reduced long-term TCO.

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