The need for automation and orchestration to optimize data center operations is gaining momentum in today's competitive data center environment. According to a study conducted by IDC, in 2000, 38% of a data center's budget went towards IT management staff. The rest of the budget was distributed over equipment, power, cooling and software needs. Over the course of the decade, the ratios have changed alarmingly, with a surprising 68% now being diverted towards IT management.
Given these numbers, improving IT staff efficiency and productivity has been the number one priority for IT managers. Along with this, 26% of managers also mentioned that they intend to aggressively invest in orchestration and automation as part of their plans for the next three years.
Some of the beneficial techniques that are currently used for increasing data center efficiency are as follows:
- Preparing and following an operations calendar: Many organizations today use a live ops calendar that integrates with other monitoring systems and release planning and control systems. This is a highly visual system and is considered as the single source of truth for every significant IT activity in the data center. Many a data center manager has known to praise the benefits of using an ops calendar and its contribution to data center efficiencies and streamlining.
- Automation: Automation is increasingly easy to follow for repeatable time critical tasks. Example of such tasks are system admin tasks, and also release management tasks of putting web applications into production. Deployment cadence has gained pace and now having as many as eight releases per day is common for some applications.
Orchestrated operations is a concept that uses the tools in place along with a process driven workflow to get maximum benefit for the data centers. The philosophy that most experts follow is to work in an agile fashion. They pick the first technique, implement it, measure the value and benefits and then move on to the next. The entire concept is to keep away from a record keeping approach, instead to move to more adaptable approach that keeps in pace with the ever dynamic data center IT environment.