A new white paper from Data Center Dynamics explores the biggest trends driving and hindering the adoption of data center automation systems, replacing traditional control and monitoring solutions.

The white paper describes the industry approach to data center operations automation as “piecemeal” and says industry experts identified a wide range of technical challenges and differing opinions given on each challenge’s level of importance.

“Essentially, the industry position is marked by uncertainty with small numbers of advocates/early adopters at one end of the spectrum, and small numbers of people suspicious of the latest tech at the other,” the white paper explains.

How Data Centers Handling Automation

When it comes to how advanced data centers are in automating their operations and management, respondents are pretty evenly split. According to the survey, 53 percent of respondents said data centers are either doing “very well” or “fairly well” when it comes to automation, alternatively, 47 percent felt data centers are doing “not very well” or “not well at all.”

“These findings indicate uncertainty and the sense that it may be too soon to hold strong opinions,” the white paper says. “[The findings] therefore suggest there’s still a lot of work ahead for the industry and an opportunity for those able to supply them with the guidance and technologies they need.”

How Data Centers Can Improve Operations

The survey asked respondents what they feel are “the most significant factors that enable data center operations to improve.” Unsurprisingly funding topped the list with 51.9 percent of respondents rating it as a significant factor. Also high on the list were organizational time and bandwidth (50 percent), strategic leadership (44.2 percent), and technical expertise (41.3 percent).

While funding may be top of mind for respondents, the white papers says, “it is not about one factor. All of those listed need to be in place to achieve improved operations. Initiatives need to be based on a ‘whole of organization’ approach.”

Challenges Data Centers are Facing

While automating data center operations systems may be key to modernizing data centers, it isn’t an easy undertaking. Rather, data center operators face significant challenges. Nearly half of respondents (47.1 percent) of respondents said increased levels of security threats is one of the greatest challenges facing data center operations. Skill shortages, labor costs, strong growth in demand/data, erosion of traditional roles and tasks, proliferation of technologies, and a reduction in operating budgets were also rated as top challenges.

Leadership is Essential

Overall, Data Center Dynamics says the survey results are “in line with our previous surveys” and that the development of automation is “increasingly directed from the C-Suite, indicating the importance of strategic leadership in making major changes in a data center, and the increasing recognition of the critical role that the data center plays in organizational performance.”

The white paper noted that a majority of respondents agree that automation is essential for a modernization and said there is “consensus that expert guidance, good leadership, and proven data center solutions and technologies are needed to help the industry evolve.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.