Tag Archives | Data Center

“Best-of-Breed” May Not be “Best in Show”

Some IT organizations think using only “best-of-breed” tools is the best approach for IT monitoring and management.  But a recent IDC white paper, sponsored by CA Technologies, shows that this isn’t the case at all—and that such an approach can be ineffective, wasteful and slow.  IT is already dealing with environments that are incredibly complex—so having a variety of point solutions to manage those environments only adds to the complexity.

The white paper, entitled “Unified Infrastructure Monitoring and Management Increases Availability, MTTR, and IT Staff Productivity,” (October 2013) reveals how unified monitoring and management solutions that are consistent across systems, networks and applications give IT staff a real advantage over fragmented point solutions.

Unified monitoring enables IT to view cross-domain information that is correlated automatically and presented on a single dashboard, giving them a quick, visual grasp of the infrastructure and current issues. The alternative is manual correlation of information presented in a variety of formats on individual dashboards, resulting in significantly longer time to identify issues and their impact across the infrastructure.

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Shadow IT

Will new electricity regulations impact the data center?

With the advent of new cap-and-trade regulations in California, like the recent Network World article mentions, some data center operators are also wondering what the impact of new electricity-related regulations will be for Data Centers? Other articles, however, reassure us that the cap-and-trade rules along with new carbon regulations on coal will have negligible impact on data centers in the near-term. New coal regulations are set to minimally impact electricity prices because they only apply to new coal power plants, and there aren’t any new coal power plants planned due to the much cheaper methane supply available and previous pollution regulations. A great article on this was written by Yevgeniy Sverdlik “New coal-plant regulations coming in US! Brace for…nothing much“.

Regarding the California cap-and-trade program, currently it only targets very large carbon emitters (25k tons/year) and are designed to limit impact on electricity prices by design, and currently no known data center has reached this limit of annual carbon emissions to be regulated directly by this program. (Article from DataCenter Dynamics “Cap-and-trade impact on Cali data centers will be small”). Any electricity rate rises will be small (1-2 cents) and slow to manifest (2+years). This is because the carbon permits so far have sold for under the price valuation of the auction (around $10) suggesting most California utilities find the emissions allowance manageable like the program intended, and which also means that there won’t be a huge impact on electricity prices at this time. In addition, a proposal was passed in 2012 to give dividends to California rate-payers from the cap and trade program proceeds. This means an average home-owner will get $60 back per year, which will also offset electricity price increases for a period of time as well. It is very difficult to predict the future of emission regulations and the subsequent impacts due to the unpredictable nature of political will, changes in program rules over time, and unintended consequences which are often speculative. However, it seems that significant upward impacts on the electricity prices due to cap-and-trade regulations are not evident at this time.

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Webcast: 5 Things you need to know about DCIM for Capacity, Power, Space and Cooling

Managing today’s data centers requires a myriad of management tools and techniques that span a wide array of activities and systems: Power and cooling, asset management, capacity planning, facilities and IT convergence, and more.  The challenge for data center and facility professionals is to understand what’s real today and what can DCIM technology deliver tomorrow?

In a recent survey, IDC found that 84% of datacenters had issues with power, space and cooling capacity, assets and uptime that negatively impacted business operations.  This study also found that 92% of data center managers preferred an integrated DCIM approach. But, how do you make the business case to justify the investment in a DCIM solution?

CA Technologies, along with IDC and Dell, are hosting a 1-hour webcast on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 1p ET to discuss the benefits of DCIM.

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Getting Energy Tough

We love data centres. There is something special about them – the pristine racks, the modern servers, colourful cables and all that raw processing power. The steady hum of thousands of servers, CRAC units and battery packs is intoxicating. They are great, but the problem is that they are expensive, power hungry and we need more of them. In 2007, data centres in Western Europe consumed a whopping 56 TWh of power, but as automation and online adoption continues to rise, this is estimated to climb up to 104 TWh by 2020. Dwindling oil supplies and tougher environmental legislation mean that generating that extra energy will become more and more expensive. In the current competitive climate, the vision of skyrocketing energy cost – or even energy crisis – is enough to cause sleepless nights for many European CEOs, particularly if they have seen their recent energy bills.

Due to the nature of the beast, data centres are prime targets for energy savings. They are power hungry yet well metered and therefore, great places to start flexing those cost-saving muscles. Most data centre operators have existing monitoring systems in place. At a minimum, these systems can produce totals for utility and IT load, so baselines are there. Savings are easy to estimate, and therefore, the great machine is often asked to do more with less. This is by no means the only challenge data centre operators face today.

These are no idle thoughts. As concerns about our energy reserves grow, everyone should make it a norm to be as energy-efficient as possible. The European Commission Institute for Energy and Transport acknowledged this fact in 2008 by creating a voluntary EU Datacentre Code of Conduct, which, like all similar schemes, will involve submitting annual reports. The submission process will involve energy baselines, initiatives and action plans. Getting baseline data out of a traditional data centre should be easy, but identifying initiatives and formulating action plans could be a headache if the monitoring systems are not capable of producing detailed live reports on how the data centre actually runs. The action plans will most likely include things like virtualization and optimal resource utilization, but without proper monitoring systems it is very difficult to make the right move.

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Webcast: Achieving ROI with DCIM: Making the Business Case

Your CA Infrastructure Management (CA IM) solution is helping you to centrally manage the various layers of the IT stack such as servers, networks, applications, and services.  The physical layer, however, can present huge risks and costs associated with power, cooling and space of the data center.  Learn how you can leverage your current investment in CA IM by extending IT management to your data center infrastructure and as a result increase your agility in rolling out applications & services, lower your operating costs, and reduce your risk of downtime due to issues with power or physical environment.

Join CA Technologies and Infosys for a joint webcast on Wednesday, May 15th at 10AM Pacific/1PM Eastern, where we’ll share how leading companies have achieved early ROI with DCIM through a combination of greater efficiency, improved availability and reduced power consumption. You’ll also get insights and best practices on how to convert data center efficiency metrics into meaningful analytics for operational improvement.

Register here.

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Essential DCIM

Essential Indeed Means Simplify: Insights from the DatacenterDynamics Converged NYC Conference

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a number of IT and Facilities professionals on DCIM success while attending the Datacenter Dynamics Conference in NYC. While at the event, David Brown, President of Datotel, presented the session titled, “Essential DCIM: 5 Things You Need to Know about DCIM & How Datotel Has Put Them to Use.”  We addressed the heart of what makes DCIM a success, a theme that we recognize can be as varied for our data center peers as data center environments are complex.

During conversations that ensued throughout the day, simplification was indeed a theme for each of the five main points David and I addressed:

  1. Decide Your Use Cases:  Power, Space, Cooling, Assets
    DCIM covers a breadth of use cases, both on the facilities side and on the IT infrastructure side.  While it is common business knowledge to view major projects in bite-size chunks and show success before moving to the next stage, the main point relevant for DCIM is that your underlying DCIM technology solution has strength to cover the different points on your journey.  I spoke with one attendee who discussed alarming for redundant power and back-up generation as the primary need for DCIM, but planned on moving into further asset management capabilities for the equipment.  In another conversation, the number one driver for one organization was the need to understand data center capacity across their portfolio and being able to have the right views into their data centers so that they could plan for delivering major new services.
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Come See Us at Gartner Data Center 2012

Gartner just wrapped up the London version of its annual Data Center Summit and judging from the tweets coming out of it, there should be plenty to see and do when the Summit makes its stop at The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas next week (December 4 – 6).

Among the highlights of the Las Vegas show: A chance to hear Pulitzer-prize winning humor columnist Dave Barry and Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot that successfully landed his crippled airplane on the Hudson River. Gartner analysts will be there to discuss future trends in IT, including reducing expenses while driving excellence and the role DevOps will play going forward. The latter should be of interest as there is a lot of hype around DevOps and an equal amount of confusion.

CA Technologies will be at the event to demonstrate our data center, cloud, mainframe and, of course, Service Assurance solutions at our two booths (643 and 649) in the show floor. If you’re going to the Summit and are involved in any part of data center or cloud management, you won’t want to miss my colleague Ryan Shopp’s session on Monday, December 3 at 2:30p in Venetian D.

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CA booth at Cisco Live 2012

Who Owns the Cisco UCS?

That’s a common question that attendees at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego are asking this week.  They are referring to the generation of unified network, server, and storage solutions:  Cisco UCS.  The answer is:  it depends on the state of the UCS.

Quite naturally, the question comes from network engineers – the vast majority of Cisco Live attendees. But system and database professionals – a growing minority at Cisco Live – have the same question on their minds. If Level 1 Operations Center staff were here – the folks who escalate issues they can’t solve to engineers – they’d no doubt ask the same question.

Every innovation in IT infrastructure, like Cisco UCS, requires related innovations in software tools to manage it. Otherwise, the business benefits of the infrastructure innovation would be diminished by the increased complexity, time and cost of managing it.

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MPLS Ethernet World Congress 2012 a Success!

The main theme of the MPLS Ethernet World Congress conference (hosted in Paris, France, Feb. 6-10, 2012) was “The Cloud Impact” and resulted in topics being largely cloud/data center and Software Driven/Defined Network (SDN) focused. The conference was well attended this year with more than 1,200 delegates attending, with about 75% coming from various service providers and enterprises, and the remainder from device and software vendors. The demographics of attendees were widely dispersed again as is always the case: with large numbers of participants from Europe, America and Asia with even some from Africa and South America (Brazil in particular).

On the first day of the conference, tutorials were presented that focused on these topics, with at least 50% focusing on SDN. Day 1 of the conference saw keynotes from Yakov Rekhter from Juniper Networks and one from Sunil Khandekar from Alcatel-Lucent on clouds, data centers, MPLS and SDN. It is clear that the strategic focus of both of these companies lies in these areas. A number of presentations including my own were focused on SDN and how it will impact data centers, MPLS, Ethernet and cloud technologies. My presentation focused on what I see as an inflection point in the networking and software industries where the areas of networks and applications are more closely aligned via SDN. There seems to be not only significant interest in the industry around SDN, but a number of companies actually building it too. The remainder of the day was punctuated by a number of good presentations, with one in particular from François Lecerf, CTO at Ipanema Technologies.

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Cisco UCS

Is Your Data Center Sustainable?

Data centers are the ultimate power consumers, constantly growing in necessity and consumption. Allowed to run free, they are not sustainable by any measure – power, size and space, or manageability. Technology created them, but now technology is taming them with next-generation data center technology. Virtualization, in combination with cloud computing, is reducing the amount of server hardware required. Simply put, less hardware uses less power and makes for greener data centers that cost less to run. Through not-so-simple technology, the industry is getting there.

Larger organizations typically have larger data centers, often making them the first to move to new technology. But out-of-control sprawl is hitting many organizations hard. Have you been pushing the edge on your data center space and considering a move to a larger space? Or are you maxing out in every direction and entirely rethinking your data center plans? Have you thought of deploying next-generation data center technology to help you gain control? Alternatives to “more of the same” are here and being deployed now.

The discussion of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) that follows is not to imply it is the only alternative, nor is CA Technologies the only partner that integrates with Cisco UCS, but it provides an example of the choices you have. So, if you are looking to revamp your data center solution so it can scale more sustainably, consider these and other alternatives.

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Figure 1: PDU breaker-level energy data view

Making energy resource monitoring a part of your datacenter management strategy

Datacenter management is a complicated IT discipline that continues to grow more complex as IT departments embrace virtualization and consider cloud computing for future high-tech projects. And now managing technology isn’t the only task IT executives must address in their datacenters; energy and resource monitoring is also required to achieve a full datacenter infrastructure management (DCIM) strategy, according to research firm IDC.

IDC evaluated 15 vendors in a November 2010 report entitled “Datacenter Infrastructure Management: A Competitive Landscape of Energy Efficient Management in the Datacenter” and found that most have strengths in different areas, all of which are required for a complete, holistic approach to DCIM.

“Almost all the vendors IDC spoke with monitor more than their own hardware or environments, but simultaneously no single vendor can detect, monitor and control 100% of existing datacenter environments,” the report reads.

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What’s your datacenter infrastructure management plan?

Managing complex, heterogeneous datacenters that feature technologies such as virtualization isn’t going to be easy for any IT department, but a recent research paper from IDC suggests that the vendor community is working to provide the tools and technologies needed to enable energy-efficient, automated and cost-effective environments.

The IDC paper “Datacenter Infrastructure Management: A Competitive Landscape of Energy Efficiency Management in the Datacenter” by IDC research analyst Katherine Broderick examines the challenges today in managing datacenters as well as the proposed solutions offered by vendors. The technology, dubbed datacenter infrastructure management (DCIM), includes disciplines typically handled by IT but also incorporates facilities management, something not traditionally coupled with the IT side of the house.

“Datacenter infrastructure management (DCIM) technology enables IT decision makers to continually ensure an optimal (and in some cases, not failing) datacenter environment to keep IT working properly today,” the report reads. “DCIM is truly one of the only places where facilities and IT meet to think about the business’ backbone in a tactical and strategic manner.”

IDC recognized several trends emerging upon examining the DCIM market. To start, the research firm says that although it is a challenge to get a holistic view across an entire datacenter, it is possible. Many vendors attempt to pull this data together into one cohesive view, according to IDC, yet few offer a 100% complete few. A DCIM strategy must incorporate automation technology, which many IT systems management vendors are working to provide to customers now.

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