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Business value through data centre automation

18 Jun 2014

Veeam's Charles Clarke discusses the business benefits of automation for business continuity and the cloud.

Modern IT organisations are driving towards the expectation of zero downtime. The business cycle has a global scope, no longer five days a week, eight hours a day. An implication for the ‘always on’ business is that it requires powerful data centres for management. The solution to this growing problem lies in automation.

Automation is one of the key technologies for data centres in 2014. Yet, automation has been present in the data centre in one form or another for many years. What makes automation a breakthrough technology this year is its foundation in virtualisation.

The modern data centre, built on virtualisation, has the ability to automate key functions that drive real business value. It is easy for a company to respond rapidly to demand by provisioning servers to meet a particular market need. This capability now extends beyond server provisioning. Thanks to virtualisation, it is now possible to automate everything that comprises the modern data centre. Networking, compute, storage and even the data centre itself can be treated as a managed object to be automatically provisioned, de-provisioned and relocated based on customer demand and market conditions.

Automation of common tasks and processes helps streamline operations and reduces human and deployment errors, thereby also improving service quality. Systems that are set up to respond automatically in real-time are crucial in establishing flexible and agile workflows to ensure minimal disruptions in day-to-day operations. Automation allows organisations to not only drive down costs but also create a more flexible and responsive infrastructure.

Automation and business continuity 

An important example of automation in the data centre is business continuity. Automatically backing up and replicating is one of the oldest practices in any server infrastructure. Automation in the modern data centre unlocks capabilities that might just save your business.

For example, the ability to test a disaster recovery plan in a regular, automated fashion means the business can rely on that plan in the event of an outage with confidence. Building automated workflow for recovery also helps minimise the financial impact of any downtime. For example, a monitoring solution might detect the loss of a service or server and automatically recover the server before users are impacted by the interruption.

Automation and the cloud

Automation is the key technology underpinning both private and public clouds. A defining attribute of cloud is the ability to provide elasticity in service provision. This is only possible at any scale by building automated processes that can be invoked based on an event or on demand. For example, a tenant running out of compute resource receives additional servers automatically provisioned; or isable to buy additional servers through a self-service portal that are then automatically provisioned.

There is something intoxicating about having the ability to automate and control tasks at a single button-push. Tools to manage mundane IT tasks have evolved into a multitude of workflow and management tools with increasing levels of sophistication. But more importantly, automation is about making organisations more agile and capable to respond to the ‘always on’ demands of modern business. It pays for the IT community to understand and embrace the opportunities the automated data centre presents.

Charles Clarke  | VeeamCharles Clarke is technical director APAC for Veeam, which enables always-on business by providing solutions that deliver availability for the modern data centre.