How Infrastructure Automation Can Reduce Data Center Errors
By: Kayla Matthews on December 9, 2019
Network infrastructure automation, also known as IT automation, involves handling repeatable processes with software rather than constant human intervention. Once a user sets up the software that performs the automated tasks, it can get tasks done and leave the person free to take care of other things.
Since automation can create an environment where IT professionals are not so pressed for time, it can cut down on errors. Here, we'll look at how that benefit affects data centers.
It Can Eliminate Command-Line Blunders
Unfortunately, system downtime often happens when system administrators use the command-line interface to make changes. That approach leaves open the possibility of someone making an incorrect keystroke and the system going down before there's time to fix it.
However, an alternative to this problem is to carry out automation with a script library. Doing things that way gives the same results with every attempt. Otherwise, even characteristically careful IT professionals could create a data center disaster by making a typing mistake due to things like fatigue or haste.
It Can Remove Guesswork
Even the most skilled and experienced IT professionals don't know everything. They have to make educated assumptions based on the data they have. In many cases, everything works out OK, but data center professionals can still miss some factors when they're evaluating the infrastructure. That's one reason experts say artificial intelligence (AI) has a prominent place in IT infrastructure for the data center.
For example, one idea brought up the possibility of using AI to create models for future power consumption. Having that kind of forecasting information can give upwards of 5% gains in efficiency. AI can also perform predictive analytics about maintenance, allowing professionals to intervene before a data center outage.
It Increases Consistency
Another reason infrastructure automation is such a good fit for the data center is that it allows the same infrastructure to apply to as many systems or system components as necessary. This benefit cuts down on manual processes, which means it saves time while removing the variability that naturally occurs when a person does a task solely by hand.
Network infrastructure automation also allows users to identify different types of network traffic, then automatically prioritize resources depending on the kind. Then, even as networks accommodate more traffic, or need to meet the needs of various clients, automation can make that simpler. Whenever a network changes, the possibilities for making mistakes can increase, especially if current responsibilities are already taxing enough for an IT team.
Automation makes network configuration more streamlined because it can keep applying the same policies across the entire network or use them for particular devices or applications.
It Can Beef up Security
It's becoming more popular for data center professionals to implement software-defined networking (SDN). This approach involves software-based controllers as overlays on network hardware, allowing for intent or policy-based decisions for the whole network. For example, an IT employee could apply multiple policies to one virtual machine that relate to things like disaster recovery.
SDNs can also help data centers become more secure, thereby reducing any mistakes that may crop up due to vulnerabilities. It's possible to use an SDN controller to apply security policies across the network, all the way to the edge. Then, if that happens on top of white boxes — servers or computers without well-established brand names — deployments can be 30 to 60% less expensive than if IT professionals took a conventional route for security.
It Can Make Troubleshooting More Efficient
When things go wrong with a data center's network, IT professionals have to quickly and competently get to the root of the problem. That requires figuring out what happened and why, plus how to prevent future similar issues.
Some data center tools for IT automation proactively recognize network issues, then respond accordingly depending according to parameters someone previously set up. For example, when a problem arises, an application could start taking direction from another app on the network, leaving IT staff members to troubleshoot or isolate faults.
Some automation tools show the exact location of network connectivity problems. Then, system administrators can start tackling them right away instead of wasting valuable time doing diagnostics. Plus, since automation aids in locating the issue, administrators won't make mistakes due to misunderstanding what's going on.
Network Infrastructure Automation Saves Time
Today's networks are increasingly vast and complex. Managing them can be challenging. However, when the network professionals at data centers implement automation, they should find it's easier to do their jobs more productively because they don't devote so much time to manual tasks.
About Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about data centers and big data for several industry publications, including The Data Center Journal, Data Center Frontier and insideBIGDATA. To read more posts from Kayla, you can follower her personal tech blog at ProductivityBytes.com.