Hosting automation has evolved significantly over the years, from simple reseller account functionality to server, cluster, or even complete data center automation solutions. This latest form of automated data centers has been described as “software-defined data centers”. In essence the functionality that once required a great deal of manpower and hours can now be accomplished with very little human effort and very little time.
This dramatic shift in how data centers are managed began with virtualization. At one time, any project that required its own OS and server configuration was given its own dedicated machine. It did not matter if the project only used half of the server’s resources. Because of its unique requirements, it had to have a dedicated server. Virtualization allowed system administrators to partition a server into two or more environments, sometimes running multiple operating systems on the same machine. This consolidated data center space and server resources.
Over time, virtualization developers added functionality to their systems, offering their customers deployment and management solutions. You can now deploy virtual machines remotely using automated dashboards and control panels. Some have even taken this automation a step further, developing systems for managing rack power distribution, humidity, temperature, physical security, and cooling.
Hosting automation has always been about convenience and efficiency. Software-defined data centers may also add environmental conservation to that list, as data centers are optimized to use as little space and power as possible. The software-defined data center may soon reach the point where very few actual human beings are needed inside a facility. Those people who once worked directly with the hardware will have to reinvent themselves and become data center management specialists who may work remotely with software instead.