Jun 10 2021
Data Center

To Secure Data Centers, AI and Automation Are Key

How can universities leverage automation capabilities effectively to maintain a secure environment?

Disruptive cyberattacks are not slowing down for higher education. To avoid being next to fall victim to malicious server code, universities and colleges need to secure their data more effectively than ever before.

For many universities, this can be achieved through data center automation. A recent report from Mordor Intelligence found that “The boom in social networking analytics, cloud computing and mobile computing is projected to positively impact the need for automation and data centers.” The report also notes that automation can play a vital role in improving data centers by eliminating errors, saving time and optimizing processes for better cost savings.

However, many institutions don’t quite have the IT infrastructure they need to achieve this level of automation. In a CDW Tech Talk on security and automation, Allen Whipple of Hewlett Packard Enterprise explained how advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and security strategies like zero trust can help institutions get ahead of their competition.

How to Automate Daily Firmware Checks for Servers

The root of the problem is that many IT departments are not fully utilizing their server features. “We tend to have this habit: We buy it, we turn it on, we install our application … and then we forget about it,” Whipple says.

Whipple recommends that IT departments, instead, ask what this server can do for their universities.

With HPE servers, higher education IT departments have the option of enabling extra security features through HPE’s Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) software. iLO is a server management platform that can help colleges and universities securely configure, monitor and update their HPE servers from remote locations.

MORE ON EDTECH: Integrated Lights-Out software helps IT efficiently manage server power usage.

iLO allows universities to automate daily firmware checks, where essential firmware components are checked once a day.

“This is going to happen automatically once you set it up,” Whipple says. “You can have that peace of mind.” In fact, the platform can go beyond checking if the firmware has been altered. In the unlikely event of an attack, iLO can also automatically recover firmware back to its last known good state.

“You can go to bed at night knowing that your servers are self-checking themselves, and that you don’t have to reboot them to check them,” Whipple says.

Zero-Trust Security From the Inside Out

According to Whipple, the company is redefining zero-trust security from the inside out by using processors completely designed by the company.

To improve security, the HPE ProLiant Gen10 server includes a piece of HPE’s firmware embedded in the chip. HPE’s new Gen10 Plus server builds on that technology using the same processor, but with added features such as platform certificates and device identification.

RELATED: Learn how to balance zero-trust security with academic freedom.

“The truth is, protecting your data really starts with knowing where and how your technology is made,” Whipple says. “And HPE’s trusted supply chain secures your data long before your server is ever assembled by ensuring everyone who comes into contact with it, from the factory floor to boot up, is vetted and verified through the world’s toughest security standards and facilities.”

Modern Data Centers Save Time Using AI

A modern data center should be also equipped with AI-powered tools. At HPE, those tools include OneView and InfoSight.

“With HPE OneView, you have the ability to automate simple tasks. Imagine having the ability to create a server profile template, so when you bring new servers online, you just apply that template and boom, that server is up and running,” says Whipple. “Imagine having the ability to update firmware and to schedule those firmware updates after hours or at night, and have those roll out without stressing out your IT department. Imagine consistent health insight into your server environment and being able to automatically order parts and fix issues that occur.”

HPE’s InfoSight tool also uses advanced analytics to look for common issues. It allows higher education IT departments to see system environments, from the health of the system to the firmware and service contracts. Once the AI finds a problem, the tool finds a patch and applies it to that server and all other servers in the network.

With AI-enabled monitoring of thousands of devices across all data centers, clouds and edges, HPE’s security features can identify issues before they become disruptive business problems.

This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.


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