Automation can be a scary word. It could mean job losses, pay cuts and costly implementation for businesses – not to mention the whole ‘robots taking over the world like they do in the movies’ conspiracy.
But data center automation could increase energy efficiency, speed up data analysis, reduce errors and save costs. The data center automation market value is expected to reach $19.6 billion in 2025. The Asia-Pacific region is showing the most promise with an annual growth rate of 25.3%, so it’s no surprise that organisations like ABB, Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are all adopting data center automation.
The importance of automation will continue to grow with demand for more data storage, greater use of the cloud due to the COVID-19 outbreak and faster processing caused by digital transformation taking place in countless industries. And we may see the appetite for automated data centers grow, as 80% of enterprises predicted to close their traditional data centers by 2025.
What is data center automation?
Data center automation takes the responsibility of maintaining updates, monitoring problems, scheduling backups and producing compliance audits out of the hands of human operators and into the hands of digital systems.
Automation is split up into storage, network and server automation. It is often implemented in different building blocks, from completing security checks and application delivery, to deploying consistent workflows and analysing energy efficiency.
Why is data center automation useful?
More and more people and businesses are generating vast amounts of data through social media, cloud computing and online gaming. A staggering 80% of the data generated by these platforms is unstructured, putting pressure on data center operators to analyse and process this data. The impacts of the coronavirus outbreak may also increase pressure on data centers caused by more remote working and usage of cloud services, particularly by health services, to mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.
Data center automation can relieve this pressure and reduce the risk of human error by completing repetitive tasks and processing big data that would usually be handled manually.
IT Directors have identified a number of benefits, including a 25% increase in productivity, 30% more efficiency in incident management and an 80% cost saving for full-time expenses on repetitive tasks.
Automation also offers higher efficiency compared to traditional data centers, allowing organisations to meet standards like Singapore’s Green Data Centre Standard and contribute to tackling climate change through automation. Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology has already been implemented to monitor energy efficiency by both Google and Equinix in Singapore. With the potential for more regulations to encourage energy efficiency, the need for data center automation may intensify.
Data center staff are still essential
While automation may be growing, data center operators are still crucial to the smooth running of the facilities. Those working in telecommunications, which likely include data center staff, are even categorised as ‘essential’ workers in countries suffering from “circuit breaker” or lockdown situations like Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.
Automation cannot completely replace human intuition and experience in dealing with complex tasks. Without qualified operators onsite, there may be an increased risk of facilities failing to react to faults and emergencies, particularly if there are many faults occurring at once.
How can I automate my data center?
If you are keen to adopt automation, it’s important to gain approval from senior staff and decision makers in your organisation. Data center automation can be expensive, so you will need to convince them of the benefits that automation can bring.
You will also need buy-in from data center operators. Highlight how automation can enhance their productivity rather than replace them by freeing up their time to focus on more complex and strategic tasks.
Once approved, you can begin selecting and rolling out automation solutions. Take your time to research vendors and find one that will offer a future-proofed solution that has the potential to be a holistic solution that brings together storage, network and server automation.