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The Untouchable Levels in Data Center Automation


December 10, 2015

Automation – it’s what makes life easier. We’ve come into an age where we have access to more than just automatic dishwashers or washing machines that remove the manual labors for the typical housewife. Today, automation is in nearly everything we do, providing the easy access to information, streamlining collaboration and providing the foundation for transforming network infrastructure.

TechTarget recently published a post on automation in the data center and the importance of breaking down different levels. The focus today is software-defined everything as the demand for access to cloud innovations continues to grow. Traditional environments still exist in the data center space. These centers are typically referred to as pets data centers as each server is a pet and treated just like a house pet.

The data center built with high levels of virtualization, application automation and operating systems tends to be referred to as a “cattle” data center. Servers get away from the pet-like persona and instead have numbers. They are created through automation and meant to produce. When they have served their time, they are destroyed in much the same way as they are created.

In the ants data center, applications tend to be located in containers. When needed, application data is separated cleanly from the application. Each element within the infrastructure, whether it is storage or networking or anything in between is monitored, scripted, automated and orchestrated. While some are focused on transforming network infrastructure, very few companies have made the move from cattle to ants.

The next level of automation in the data center has not yet claimed a name, yet has a personality all its own. This automation level pays attention to the environment through sensors. These sensors detect environmental changes that can lead to the migration of workloads from one data center side to another. The goal is to handle thermal excursions and then alter the environment in which it operates. Beyond automating infrastructure, these data centers cause problems that force developers to adapt.

This top layer of data center automation is one that appears appealing to those who are trying to manage more and more data for the competitive advantage. But this kind of focus on transforming network infrastructure from a data perceptive is something that only the massive giant can handle. Only Google has come close and the company is really just dancing around the concept for now.

But don’t expect that dance to last long before it becomes immersion. To survive in today’s market, companies need data and the only way to make it valuable is through automation to streamline activities, information and processes. Those unable to keep pace will find that a lack of automation is what led to their downfall.




Edited by Maurice Nagle

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