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What Is Data Center Automation?

Data center automation is the process by which routine workflows and processes of a data center—scheduling, monitoring, maintenance, application delivery, and so on—are managed and executed without human administration. Data center automation increases agility and operational efficiency. It reduces the time IT needs to perform routine tasks and enables them to deliver services on demand in a repeatable, automated manner. These services can then be rapidly consumed by end users.

Why Data Center Automation Is Important

The massive growth in data and the speed at which businesses operate today mean that manual monitoring, troubleshooting, and remediation is too slow to be effective and can put businesses at risk. Automation can make day-two operations almost autonomous. Ideally, the data center provider would have API access to the infrastructure, enabling it to inter-operate with public clouds so that customers could migrate data or workloads from cloud to cloud. Data center automation is predominantly delivered through software solutions that grant centralized access to all or most data center resources. Traditionally, this access enables the automation of storage, servers, network, and other data center management tasks. 

Data center automation is immensely valuable because it frees up human computational time and: 

  • Delivers insight into server nodes and configurations 
  • Automates routine procedures like patching, updating, and reporting 
  • Produces and programs all data center scheduling and monitoring tasks 
  • Enforces data center processes and controls in agreement with standards and policies

Tools for Data Center Automation

APIs
An API provides a set of protocols for building and integrating with application software. Infrastructure that offers APIs for toolsets like configuration management and OpenStack can save companies resources, time, and money, and can deliver consistency in developer environments.   

Configuration Management Tools

  • Ansible - Ansible Tower is Red Hat's automation platform for Red Hat Linux and more. Ansible Tower is a software framework that supports disciplines ranging from agile development to DevOps to continuous delivery.

  • Puppet - Puppet is a framework and language that systems operations professionals use to define operations like software deployment so that they can be automated. The Puppet language creates the definitions and workflow that are implemented by the Puppet framework. Puppet brings a common language and compatibility across a broad range of devices. IT departments use Puppet to automate intricate processes involving many pieces of hardware and software.

  • Chef - Chef is a suite of products that is open-source and commercial. Chef is written in Ruby and provides a framework in which users can write recipes. Those recipes can implement processes that span an entire infrastructure or focus on a single component. The three components of Chef are Chef, Inspect, and Habitat. These components can be used individually or together for a complete DevOps framework.

  • OpenStack - controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a data center, managed through a dashboard or through the OpenStack API. OpenStack is an operating system that helps build a cloud infrastructure or manage local resources as though they were a cloud. This means automating the building, teardown, and management of virtual servers and other virtualized infrastructure. It’s worth noting that Red Hat offers an open-source enterprise edition of OpenStack for improved support.


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