May 10 2018
Data Center

How to Handle the Human Side of State and Local Data Center Automation

Complete employee buy-in and constant monitoring are just two ways to ensure the road to automation doesn’t get too bumpy.

Data center automation can offer state and local IT teams a few distinct advantages, including the ability stretch resources when it comes to both budgets and personnel bandwidth. Just ask, Durham, N.C., Senior Network Engineer Seth Price, who told StateTech that the city’s decision to move to software-defined data center architecture and automation had a great deal to do with the need for greater flexibility, visibility and scalability.

“We needed to simplify our data center, to do more with less,” Price says. “We don’t have enough staff to cover all the work that can come our way. So, the driving force behind going to ACI and SDN was improving our efficiency and being able to automate processes.”

But while automating the data center can ultimately be advantageous for state and local IT teams on several fronts, it means more than simply upgrading the hardware. It involves changes to personnel, policies and procedures, says 451 Research Chief Analyst Eric Hanselman, which can sometimes be more difficult to tackle than the changes to the underlying IT.

4 Tips for a Steady Move to Automated Data Centers

To smooth the cultural strain that can emerge during the move to an automated data center, Hanselman offers four pieces of advice:

  1. Ensure all employees get on board. Managing cultural change is often the most difficult part, especially if employees feel that their jobs are threatened. Implemented properly, automation of repetitive, low-level tasks can free them up to tackle more challenging work.

  2. Monitor all systems. All-system visibility allows IT to suss out potential potholes that can present challenges in a virtual environment, where processes are often opaque.

  3. Capture business and process data. Teams can’t automate processes until they know what they are and which pieces of infrastructure they depend on.

  4. Set up consistent rules. When running a hybrid data center, use the same policies and procedures on-premises and in the cloud. That’s where automation can prove invaluable.

To learn more about the advantages of data center automation and how state and local agencies are using new automation tools to their advantage, check out our feature “Automation Spurs Efficient State and Local Data Center Management”.

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