hand on network documentation
The myriad promises of automation loom large over today’s technological landscape. Whether the discussion is around reducing costs or upping efficiency, one thing is crystal clear: automation is here to stay. For data center managers and network engineers, automation is far more than hype: when done right, it delivers on its promises of big ROI.

Many professionals in the industry, who’ve successfully leveraged automation to gain greater IT efficiency and infrastructure capabilities, have already experienced this ROI firsthand. One consistent key to their success is through strategic thinking and implementation. Whether you are just beginning your journey with automation, or you are well on your way, it’s prudent to implement, and adhere to, a well-considered automation strategy.

Gain Greater Control: Manage Infrastructure Remotely

In response to high demand, data centers are continuing to be built and expanded upon — and it’s the IT teams who must keep up with all of this expansion. Automation is particularly helpful as IT infrastructure expands: it can expedite the installation of software, configure new hardware within the existing network and improve the time-to-deploy for new servers.

One side effect of expansion which automation can remedy? It’s often not feasible for infrastructure to be supported around-the-clock by a team member; automation equips data center managers with the ability to remotely manage different parts of the data center.

Figure 1: automation helps data center managers control power.

Reduce Human Errors: Let Automation Handle Repetition

No matter how strong an IT team is, s**t happens. Human error is unavoidable…and repetitive tasks that don’t require much higher thinking are especially prone to small errors that can cause big problems.

With automation picking up the slack on rudimentary tasks, your IT team is freed up to work on higher-ticket items while reducing the likelihood of large-scale outages.

Think Big, Start Small: Start Where It’s Reasonable, Consider the Future

It’s not realistic to think that you can take the total sum of your manual tasks and automate them overnight; it’s also not realistic to aim for 100% automation in your data center processes.

You can start small and look at a small part of your infrastructure in which establishing automation will be relatively simple but will also deliver significant results in time or money saved. Once you’ve established a level of automation, you can expand upon it in the future.

With any automation, you want to get a picture of the whole field before implementing anything. You need to know what your requirements are and investigate which solutions can adequately meet them; further, you want to make sure that any solutions you adapt are flexible enough to grow with you as your level of automation grows.

Invest the time in finding the right way to implement automation and it pays off in the future; when automation isn’t done correctly at the beginning, tasks that should be simple with automation can turn into massive time sinkholes for all involved.

If you’ve already begun implementing automation, it’s beneficial to take a step back from time to time and get a clear picture of how it’s paying off. Where have you seen a positive return? How can you build out this automation to other parts of your infrastructure?

Gather Feedback: Work Alongside Your Team

One of the most important factors in a successful implementation of automation (at the start and anytime along the way) is engaging with your team and gathering feedback as changes take place. Discover where processes are inefficient and wasting valuable employee time that could be put to better use in other areas. With your team’s feedback, find out what is reasonable for starting out with, or adding on to, automation.

Beyond racks, servers and devices, your data center is composed of the people who oversee it — and have the most accurate understanding of how the systems function day in and day out. The most successful implementations aren’t just about the right software, or the right amount of planning: they happen on the ground floor with your team that’s in the trenches every day. Utilization and consistency are key.

Figure 2: drill down to individual circuits with automation.

Don’t Wait: Start Reaping the Benefits Now

In a sense, we are at the very beginning of a new period in history that’s similar to the Industrial Revolution which began in 1760. During that time, a great deal of work that was once made by hand could instead be handled by machines.

The Industrial Revolution changed the way we work and live forever, and in automation, there is also great potential for transformation on a large scale. Automation is going to explode across all industries; data center management is no exception.

In IT, the torch is already being passed from the IT professional to automation. The basics of automation have been or are now being mastered by organizations from all over the world, and now, more complex systems and tasks are being entrusted to automatic processes.

The humans that oversee any data center are vital to its success, and when a good team is paired with the right automation, the potential for increased efficacy, efficiency and savings is boundless.

About Fred Koh

As a seasoned sales executive, Fred Koh serves as Director of Sales and is responsible for Graphical Networks sales and channel partner program, marketing strategy, and operations.