With all of the trends that have surfaced in the past few years, it is easy to forget the past 100 years of innovation and technological progress leading up to the consumerization of the Internet. Cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things, enterprise mobility and other major trends in corporate IT have no doubt transformed operational processes and infrastructure demands immensely, but they would have arguably been nothing more than science fiction without automation.
Automation has long been the driving force behind progress, arguably since thousands of years before the first Industrial Revolution. A weighty argument, to be sure, but most biologists, historians and archeologists would argue that the ability to farm directly led to enhanced human intelligence, as individuals essentially automated the process of finding food and got the time to think that nomadic people never had.
Reeling this back in a bit, the Industrial Revolution's greatest end product was machining, and this was the earliest iteration of what the world now accepts as automated processes. Adoption of this new model allowed employees to focus on more strategic matters such as innovation, while reducing the tedious tasks that would often lead to errors and issues at higher levels.
Now, firms are doing essentially the same thing, though for far more advanced strategies and purposes. Automation has been viewed as one of the more vital steps in the right direction for bolstering security and data center management performance. Since the techniques and technologies involved can dramatically reduce risk, inefficiencies and general strain on operations staff and others, they are making waves in enterprises across regions and industries.
A look at the network
C4ISR & Networks contributor Bob Fortna recently argued that network automation is one of the more advanced measures organizations can take to better protecting their systems, data and users from security threats. As a brief note here, one study from the Ponemon Institute, which was funded by IBM, found that the average cost of data breach rose by 23 percent between 2013 and this year, reaching a massive $3.8 million per event.
This has been an especially worrisome issue for military entities in the United States, which is why Fortna tried to drive home the idea that automation is a critical deployment for security purposes. According to the author, one of the more obvious reasons why network security automation can be so effective is that it reduces the amount of staff intervention that needs to take place on an average day.
Now, this is not to say that it is a good idea to completely take the human out of the security conversation, as these tools are far better-served as support structures rather than total replacements. However, considering the fact that human error was the most common cause of data breach in 2014, and that networks are increasingly complex and advanced, providing this assist can go a long way toward reducing the risk of data loss and intrusions.
Fortna went on to affirm that automation tools will tend to be more proficient in identifying abnormalities and threats within networks than employees, and that these systems will at the very least work to reduce the damages associated with events. Furthermore, he noted that the use of network automation tools will have more progressive impacts on enterprises than simply boosting security, as they come with continuity and recovery benefits as well.
More evidence of data center automation's spread
Alongside growth in network automation markets, data center automation has been a rapidly growing industry as well. This has been evidenced by recent announcements from major cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and Azure involving a wider range of automation tools specifically targeted at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of data center management strategies.
While the most common stories in this territory relate back to non-farm businesses, even the agriculture sector is getting on board with these concepts. The United States Department of Agriculture reported this week that it would provide $349 million to improve electronic infrastructure across the nation, $17 million of which is for smart grids. Now, the USDA pointed out that automation for apps, IT infrastructure, metering and other demands in the agriculture realm will be the primary targets of this public investment.
Simply put, virtually every walk of life is beginning to embrace data center automation and more progressive use of the tools therein to optimize infrastructure, app and security performance. Firms interested in beginning to enjoy the advantages of data center automation and advanced relevant multi-cloud services should always consider leveraging the support of an outside provider. Although cloud vendors are starting to provide more intuitive options, managed service providers can help to ensure that the systems, technologies and users involved are being managed and maintained properly at all times.