Although the novel coronavirus has upended everyday life, IT operations at many organizations are proving remarkably resilient. The reason: data center automation and remote operations technologies are keeping things humming without direct human involvement.
“When we made the shift to working from home during the pandemic, we saw no interruption in our global data center services,” said Wendy M. Pfeiffer, CIO of Nutanix. She noted that Nutanix is benefiting from having implemented remote operations through software-defined networking (SDN) a year ago when the company moved its three main data centers from California to other states.
“Instead of having onsite network engineering personnel who were constantly configuring physical switches and routers, we now provision and take down networks remotely,” Pfeiffer explained.
[Related story: Relying on Remote IT During COVID-19]
The company doesn’t need to configure hundreds of network switches individually by automating network management tasks on their Big Switch Networks SDN (recently acquired by Arista), according to Eric Pearce, IT systems architect at Nutanix.
“We are currently writing our own Python code that uses the Big Switch REST API,” said Pearce.
The Big Switch product also integrates with the Nutanix Prism virtual data center management platform, so Prism administrators can configure all their cluster networking from within the Prism GUI without having to involve the networking team.
“In the past, a Prism administrator would have to request networking changes via a ticketing system and have to wait for the networking team to respond,” said Pearce. “This Big Switch and Prism integration brings self-service networking to the Nutanix administrator.”
Reducing Human Error
Although data center automation and remote operations are paying dividends during this unusual time, a recurrent problem they address is downtime caused by human error. Studies vary about how large a role human error plays, but the Uptime Institute estimates 70% all data center outages are caused by human error.