lights out data center

Businesses With On-Site Legacy Systems Can Go Lights Out and Save Big

By Michael
July 30, 2015

Allowing backup tape servers and other forms of legacy media to run “lights out” is far from a new solution, but the strategy is returning to vogue as small and medium businesses look to run their data archives as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. While lights out was initially introduced as a strategy to help better manage labor and network availability, the same principles can also serve an IT team interested in operating storage media with considerably less energy waste. Those looking to go fully hands-off can even invest in a suite of solutions designed to automate the entire process of legacy media storage, management and inventory. Ultimately, the decision comes down to the needs of the company, but any IT team struggling with the compliance or tracking elements of tape management should reach out for assistance right away.

Intuitive software solutions streamline a complex process
Data Center Knowledge pointed out that going lights out offers a very different experience to companies used to managing their storage with a rotation of dedicated employees or counting on the services of a colocation provider. The lights out approach allows IT teams to treat management of their backup tapes more like a normal extension of business operations instead of an archaic system requiring its own department – the sentiment is also a great rule of thumb for how IT decision-makers can evaluate automation solutions for their storage media.

There are many aspects of storage management that can be enhanced with the right software. For instance, the ClearPaths Solutions suite can be leveraged to help departments reduce operating costs, lower compliance risks, cut training costs and eliminate reliance on disaster recovery solutions. Features like real-time logging of tapes, reliable tracking of chain of custody and network job scheduling reduce risks by making the entire process more predictable.

The only downside for IT teams to be wary of is cases when software solutions work too well – employees can become dependent on automation features to do their job and begin to slack when it comes to due diligence. Likewise, certain skills of staff members can erode as they fall out of practice, and this lack of readiness could contribute to less effective training of new employees in the future. IT teams will have to find a balance between automation and human engagement to fully maximize the value of these solutions.

Going lights out delivers additional perks for  the data center
Performance benefits are are just the beginning. Plenty of incidental perks come along with streamlining management of tape storage. For example, CIO noted that many IT managers find that the security of their facilities improves once they go lights out in the data center. Fewer bodies mean fewer opportunities for employees to make a mistake. Intruders are also far easier to spot when data center facilities are supposed to be running hands-free.

Another unforeseen benefit of automating storage systems is the rapid ROI. The right software solutions for your company should be cost-effective to begin with, and getting creative with deployment will help you minimize the total amount of software you’ll need to purchase before starting your streamlining efforts. As a result, the savings earned via automation begin to pay off the investment, and reduce overall costs, very quickly.

CIO also emphasized that going “lights out” is best done all at once rather than step-by-step. The full value of this strategy is only realized once fully operational. Investing in the right tools will make this transition go by as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible.

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