|By Dana Gardner||
|March 11, 2014 09:45 AM EDT||
Once the province of IT facilities planners, the management and automation of data centers has rapidly grown in scope and importance.
As software-driven data centers have matured and advanced to support unpredictable workloads like hybrid cloud, big data, and mobile applications, the ability to manage and operate that infrastructure efficiently has grown increasingly difficult.
At the same time, as enterprises seek to rationalize their applications and data, centralization and consolidation of data centers has made their management even more critical -- at ever larger scale and density.
So how do enterprise IT operators and planners keep their data centers from spinning out of control despite these new requirements? How can they leverage the best of converged systems and gain increased automation, as well as rapid analysis for improving efficiency?
BriefingsDirect recently posed such questions to two experts from HP Technology Services to explore how new integrated management capabilities are providing the means for better and automated data center infrastructure management (DCIM).
To learn more on how disparate data center resources can be integrated into broader enterprise management capabilities and processes, now join Aaron Carman, HP Worldwide Critical Facilities Strategy Leader, and Steve Wibrew, HP Worldwide IT Management Consulting Strategy and Portfolio Lead. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Learn more about DCIM.]
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: What’s forcing these changes in data center management and planning and operations? What are these big new requirements? Why is it becoming so difficult?
Carman: In the past, folks were dealing with traditional types of services that were on a traditional type of IT infrastructure. Standard, monolithic-type data centers were designed one-off. In the past few years, with the emergence of cloud and hybrid service delivery, as well as some of the different solutions around convergence like converged infrastructures, the environment has become much more dynamic and complex.
So, many organizations are trying to grapple with, and deal with, not only the traditional silos that are in place between facilities, IT, and the business, but also deal with how they are going to host and manage hybrid service delivery and what impact that’s going to have on their environment.
It’s not only about what the impact is going to be on rolling out new infrastructure solutions like converged infrastructures from multiple vendors, but how to increasingly provide more flexibility and services to their end users as digital services.
It's become much more complex and it's a little bit harder to manage, because there are many, separate types of tools that they use to manage these environments, and it has continued to increase.
Gardner: Steve, I suppose too that with ITIL v3 and more focus on a service-delivery model, even the very goal of IT has changed.
Wibrew: That's very true. We’re seeing a trend in the change and role of IT to the business. Previously IT was a cost center, an overhead to the business, to deliver the required services. Nowadays, IT is very much the business of an organization, and without IT, most organizations simply cease to function. So IT, its availability and performance, is a critical aspect of the success of the business.
Gardner: What about this additional factor of big data and analysis as applied to IT and IT infrastructure? We’re getting reams and reams of data that needs to be used and managed. Is that part of what you’re dealing with as well?
Wibrew: That’s certainly a very important part of the converged-management solution. There’s been a tremendous explosion in the amount of data, the amount of management information, that's available. If you narrow that down to the management information associated with operating management and supporting data centers from the facility to the applications, to the platforms right up to the services to the business, clearly that's a huge amount of information that’s collected or maintained on a 24×7 basis.
Making good and intelligent decisions on that is quite a challenge for many organizations. Quite often, we would be saying that people still remain in isolated silo teams without good interaction between the different teams. It's a challenge trying to draw that information together so businesses can make intelligent choices based on analytics of that end-to-end information.
Gardner: Aaron, I’ve heard that word "silo" now a few times, siloed teams, siloed infrastructure, and also siloed management of infrastructure. Are we now talking about perhaps a management of management capabilities? Is that part of your story here now?
Carman: It is. For the most part, most organizations when faced with trying to manage these different areas, facilities IT and service delivery, have come up with their own set of run books, processes, tools, and methodologies for operating their data center.
When you put that onto an organization, it's just an added burden for them to try to get vendors to work with one another and integrate software tools and solutions. What the folks that provide these solutions have started to realize is that there needs to be an interoperability between these tools. There has never really been a single tool that could do that, except for what has just emerged in the past few years, which is DCIM.
HP really believes that DCIM is a foundational, operational tool that will, when properly integrated into an environment, become the backbone for operational data to traverse from many of the different tools that are used to operate the data center, from IT service management (ITSM), to IT infrastructure management, and the critical facilities management tools.
Gardner: I suppose yet another trend that we’re all grappling with these days is the notion of things moving to as-a-service, on-demand, or even as a cloud technology. Is that the case, too, with DCIM, that people are looking to do this as a service? Are we starting to do this across the hybrid model as well?
Carman: Yes. These solution providers are looking toward how they can penetrate the market and provide services to all different sizes of organizations. Many of them are looking to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to provide DCIM. There has to be a very careful analysis of what type of a licensing model you're going to actually use within your environment to ensure that the type of functionality you're trying to achieve is interoperable with existing management tools. [Learn more about DCIM.]
Wibrew: Today, clients have a huge amount of choice in terms of how they provision and obtain their IT. Obviously, there are the traditional legacy environments and the converged systems and clients operate in their own cloud solutions.
Or maybe they’re even going out to external cloud providers and some interesting dynamics that really do increase the complexity of where they get services from. This needs to be baked into that converged solution around the interoperability and interfacing between multiple systems. So IT is truly a business supporting the organization and providing end-to-end services.
Carman: Most organizations are really struggling to introduce DCIM into their environment, since at this point, it’s really viewed as more as a facilities-type tool. The approach from different DCIM providers varies greatly on the functions and features they provide in their tool. Many organizations are struggling just to understand which DCIM product is best for them and how to incorporate into a long term strategy for operations management.
So the services that we brought to market address that specifically, not only from which DCIM tool will be best for their environment, but how it fits strategically into the direction they want to take from hosting their digital services in the future.
Gardner: Steve, I think we should also be careful not to limit the purview of DCIM. This is not just IT. This does include facilities, hybrid and service delivery model, management capabilities. Maybe you could help us put the proper box around DCIM. How far and why does it go or should we narrow it so that it doesn’t become deluded or confused?
Wibrew: Yeah, that’s a very good question, an important one to address. What we’ve seen is what the analysts have predicted. Now is the time, and we’re going to see huge growth in DCIM solutions over the next few years.
DCIM has really been the domain of the facilities team, and there’s traditionally been quite a lack of understanding of what DCIM is all about within the IT infrastructure management team. If you talk to lot of IT specialists, the awareness of DCIM is still quite limited at the moment. So they certainly need to find out more about it and understand the value that DCIM can bring to IT infrastructure management.
I understand that features and functions do vary, and the extent of what DCIM delivers will vary from one product to another. It’s very good certainly around the facilities space in terms of power, cooling, and knowing what’s out on the data center floor. It’s very good at knowing what’s in the rack and how much power and space has been used within the rack.
It’s very good at cable management, the networks, and for storage and the power cabling. The trend is that DCIM will evolve and grow more into the IT management space as well. So it’s becoming very aware of things like server infrastructure and even down to the virtual infrastructure, as well, getting into those domains.
DCIM will typically have work protectabilities for change in activity management. But DCIM alone is not the end-to-end solution, and we realized the importance of the need to integrate it with the full ITSM solutions and platform management solutions. A major focus, over the past few months, is to make sure that the DCIM solutions do integrate very well with the wider IT service-management solutions to provide that integrated end-to-end holistic management solution across the entire data-center ecosystem.
Carman: With DCIM being a newer solution within the industry, I want to be very careful about calling folks DCIM specialists. We feel that we have a very great knowledge of the solutions out there. They vary so greatly.
It takes a collaborative team of folks within HP, as well as with the client, to truly understand what they’re trying to achieve. You could even pull it down to what types of use cases they’re trying to achieve for the organization, which tool works best and in interoperability and coordination with the other tools and processes they have.
We have a methodology framework called the Converged Management Framework that focuses on four distinct areas for a optimized solution and strategy for starting with business goals and understanding what the true key performance indicators are and what dashboards are required.
It looks at what the metrics are going to be for measuring success and couples that with understanding organizationally who is responsible for what types of services we provide as an ultimate service to our end user. Most of the time, we’re focusing on the facilities in IT organization. [Learn more about DCIM.]
Also, those need to be aligned to the process and workflows for provisioning services to the end users, supported directly by a system’s reference architecture, which is primarily made up of operational management tools and software. All those need to be supported by one another and purposefully designed, so that you can meet and achieve the goals of the business.
When you don’t do that, the time it takes for you to deliver services to your end user lengthens and costs money. When you have separate tools that are not referencing single points of data, then you’re spending a lot of time rationalizing and understanding if you have the accurate data in front of you. All this boils down to not only cost but having a resilient operations, knowing that when you’re looking at a particular device or setup devices, you truly understand what it’s providing end to end to your users.
Wibrew: If you think about the possibilities in the management of facilities, the IT infrastructure, right up to services of a business, end-to-end, is very large and very, very complex. We have to break it down into small or more manageable chunks and focus on the key priorities.
So we look at the trans-organization, work with them to identify to them what their most important priorities are in terms of their converged-management solution and their journey.
It’s heavily structured around ITSM and ITIL processes, and we’ve identified some great candidates within ITIL for integration between facilities in IT. It’s really a case of working out the prioritized journey for that particular client. Probably one of the most important integrations would be to have a single view of the truth of operational data. So it would be unified asset information.
CMDBs within a configuration management system might be the very first and important integration between the two, because that’s the foundation for other follow-on services until you know what you’ve got, it’s very difficult to plan, what you need in the future in terms of infrastructure.
Another important integration that is now possible with these converged solutions is the integration of power management in terms of energy consumption between the facilities and the IT infrastructure.
If you think about managing the power consumption of things like efficiency of the data center with PoE, generally speaking, in the past, that would be the domain of the facilities team. The IT infrastructure would simply be hosted in the facility.
The IT teams didn’t really care about how much power was used. But these integrated solutions can be more granular, far more dynamic around energy consumption with much more information being collected, not just at a facility level but within the racks and in the power-distribution units (PDUs), and in the blade chassis, right down to individual service.
We can now know what the energy consumption is. We can now incentivize the IT teams to take responsibility for energy management and energy consumption. This is a great way of actually reducing a client’s carbon foot print and energy consumption within the data center through these integrated solutions.
Gardner: Aaron, I suppose another important point to be clear on is that, like many services within HP Technology Services, this is not just designed for HP products. This is an ecumenical approach to whatever is installed in terms of product facility management capability. I wonder if you could explain a bit more HP’s philosophy when it comes to supporting the entire portfolio. [Learn more about DCIM.]
Carman: HP’s professional services we’re offering in this space are really agnostic to the final solution. We understand that a customer has been running their environment for years and has made investments into a lot of different operational tools over the years.
That’s a part of our analysis and methodology, to come in and understand the environment and what the client is trying to achieve. Then we put together a strategy, a roadmap of different products, that will help them achieve their goals that are interoperable.
We continue to transform them to the next level of abilities or capabilities that they are looking to achieve, especially around how they provision services and help them become, at the end, most likely a cloud-service provider to their end users, where heavy levels of automation are built in, so that they can get digital services to their end users in a much shorter period of time.
Gardner: I realize this is fairly new. It was just on Jan. 23 that HP announced some new services that include converged-management consulting, and that management framework was updated with new technical requirements. You have four new services organized with the management workshop, roadmap, design implementations, and so forth. [Learn more about DCIM.]
So this is fairly new, but Steve Wibrew, is there any instance where you’ve worked with some organization and that some of the really powerful benefits of doing this properly have shown through? Do you have any anecdotes you can recall of an organization that’s done this and maybe some interesting ways that it’s benefited them, maybe unintended consequences?
Wibrew: The starting point is to understand what’s there in the first place. I’ve been engaged with many clients where if you ask them about inventory, what’s in the data center, you get totally different answers from different groups of people within the organization. The IT team wants to put more stuff into the data center. The facilities team says, “No more space. We’re full. We can’t do that.”
I found that when you pull this data together from multiple sources and get a consistent feel of the truth, you can start to plan far more accurately and efficiently. Perhaps the lack of space in the data center is because there may be infrastructure that’s sitting there, powered on, and not being utilized by anybody.
It’s a fact that we’re redundant. I’ve had many situations where, in pulling together a consistent inventory, we can get rid of a lot of redundant equipment, allowing space for major initiatives and expansion projects. So there are some examples of the benefits of consolidated inventory and information.
Gardner: As we look a few years out at big-data requirements, hybrid cloud requirements, infrastructure KPIs for service delivery, energy, and carbon pressures? What’s the outlook in terms of doing this, and should we expect that there will be an ongoing demand, but also ongoing and improving return on investments you make, vis-à-vis these consulting services and DCIM?
Carman: Based upon a lot of the challenges that we outlined earlier in the program, we feel that in order to operate efficiently, this type of a future state operational-tools architecture is going to have to be in place, and DCIM is the only tool poised to become that backbone between the facilities and IT infrastructures.
So more-and-more, with a lot of the challenges of my compute footprint shrinking and having a different requirements that I had in the past, we’re now dealing with a storage or data explosion, where my data center is all filled up with storage files.
As these new demands from the business come down and force organizations onto new types of technology infrastructure platforms they haven’t dealt within the past, it requires them to be much more flexible when they have, in most cases, very inflexible facilities. That’s the strength of DCIM and what it can provide just in that one instance.
But more-and-more, the business is expecting digital services to almost be instant. They want to capitalize on the market at that time. They don't want to wait weeks or months for enterprise IT to provide them with a service to take advantage of a new service offering. So it's forcing folks into operating differently, and that's where converged management is poised to help these customers.
Looking to the future
Gardner: Steve, when you look into your crystal ball and think about how things will be in three to five years, what is it about DCIM rather and some of these services that you think will be most impacting?
Wibrew: I think the trend we're going to see is a far greater adoption of DCIM. It's only deployed in a small number of data centers at the moment. That's going to increase quite dramatically, and this could be a much tighter alignment between how the facilities are run and how the IT infrastructure is operated and supported. It could be far more integrated than it is today.
The roles of IT are going to change, and a lot of the work now is still around design, planning, scripting, and orchestrating. In the future, we're going to see people, almost like a conductor in an orchestra, overseeing the operations within the data center through leading highly automated and optimized processes, which are actually delivered by automated solutions.
Gardner: I benefited greatly in learning more about DCIM on the HP website. There were videos, white-papers, and blog-posts. So, there’s quite a bit of information for those interested in learning more about DCIM. HP Technology Services website was a great resource for me. [Learn more about DCIM.]
You may also be interested in:
- CIOs think proliferation of IT applications is overwhelming businesses and threatening competititve edge
- Istanbul-based Finansbank Manages Risk and Security Using HP ArcSight, Server Automation
- Network virtualization eases developer and operations snafus in the mobile and cloud era
- Siemens Brazil blazes a best practices path to deliver work flow applications on mobile devices
- Service virtualization solves bottlenecks amid complex billing process for German telco
- Nimble Storage Leverages Big Data and Cloud to Produce Data Performance Optimization on the Fly
- Inside story on how HP implemented the TippingPoint intrusion prevention system across its own security infrastructure
- In remaking itself, HP delivers the IT means for struggling enterprises to remake themselves
- MZI Healthcare Identifies Big Data Patient Productivity Gems Using HP Vertica
- Thought Leader Interview: HP's Global CISO Brett Wahlin on the future of Security and Risk
- Panel explains how CSC creates a tough cybersecurity posture against global threats
If we look at slow, traditional IT and jump to the conclusion that just because we found its issues intractable before, that necessarily means we will again, then it’s time for a rethink. As a matter of fact, the world of IT has changed over the last ten years or so. We’ve been experiencing unprecedented innovation across the board – innovation in technology as well as in how people organize and accomplish tasks. Let’s take a look at three differences between today’s modern, digital context...
Feb. 6, 2016 05:00 PM EST Reads: 137
The battle over bimodal IT is heating up. Now that there’s a reasonably broad consensus that Gartner’s advice about bimodal IT is deeply flawed – consensus everywhere except perhaps at Gartner – various ideas are springing up to fill the void. The bimodal problem, of course, is well understood. ‘Traditional’ or ‘slow’ IT uses hidebound, laborious processes that would only get in the way of ‘fast’ or ‘agile’ digital efforts. The result: incoherent IT strategies and shadow IT struggles that lead ...
Feb. 6, 2016 04:00 PM EST Reads: 416
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 6, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 347
Continuous Delivery and Release Automation for Microservices By @Anders_Wallgren | @DevOpsSummit #Microservices
As software organizations continue to invest in achieving Continuous Delivery (CD) of their applications, we see increased interest in microservices architectures, which–on the face of it–seem like a natural fit for enabling CD. In microservices (or its predecessor, “SOA”), the business functionality is decomposed into a set of independent, self-contained services that communicate with each other via an API. Each of the services has their own application release cycle, and are developed and depl...
Feb. 6, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 194
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 6, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 334
At the heart of the Cloud Native model is a microservices application architecture, and applying this to a telco SDN scenario offers enormous opportunity for product innovation and competitive advantage. For example in the ETSI NFV Ecosystem white paper they describe one of the product markets that SDN might address to be the Home sector. Vendors like Alcatel market SDN-based solutions for the home market, offering Home Gateways – A virtual residential gateway (vRGW) where service provider...
Feb. 6, 2016 01:00 PM EST Reads: 136
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 6, 2016 01:00 PM EST Reads: 531
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
Feb. 6, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 312
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
Feb. 6, 2016 09:45 AM EST Reads: 326
In the Bimodal model we find two areas of IT - the traditional kind where the main concern is keeping the lights on and the IT focusing on agility and speed, where everything needs to be faster. Today companies are investing in new technologies and processes to emulate their most agile competitors. Gone are the days of waterfall development and releases only every few months. Today's IT and the business it powers demands performance akin to a supercar - everything needs to be faster, every sc...
Feb. 6, 2016 09:00 AM EST Reads: 505
The (re?)emergence of Microservices was especially prominent in this week’s news. What are they good for? do they make sense for your application? should you take the plunge? and what do Microservices mean for your DevOps and Continuous Delivery efforts? Continue reading for more on Microservices, containers, DevOps culture, and more top news from the past week. As always, stay tuned to all the news coming from@ElectricCloud on DevOps and Continuous Delivery throughout the week and retweet/favo...
Feb. 6, 2016 08:30 AM EST Reads: 146
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
Feb. 6, 2016 07:30 AM EST Reads: 158
[session] From Build to Scale: Lifecycle of Microservices By @fortyfivan | @CloudExpo #Microservices
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
Feb. 6, 2016 07:15 AM EST Reads: 130
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 6, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 325
With microservices, SOA and distributed architectures becoming more popular, it is becoming increasingly harder to keep track of where time is spent in a distributed application when trying to diagnose performance problems. Distributed tracing systems attempt to address this problem by following application requests across service boundaries, persisting metadata along the way that provide context for fine-grained performance monitoring.
Feb. 5, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 779
Web performance issues and advances have been gaining a stronger presence in the headlines as people are becoming more aware of its impact on virtually every business, and 2015 was no exception. We saw a myriad of major outages this year hit some of the biggest corporations, as well as some technology integrations and other news that we IT Ops aficionados find very exciting. This past year has offered several opportunities for growth and evolution in the performance realm — even the worst failu...
Feb. 3, 2016 10:00 PM EST Reads: 539
Are you someone who knows that the number one rule in DevOps is “Don’t Panic”? Especially when it comes to making Continuous Delivery changes inside your organization? Are you someone that theorizes that if anyone implements real automation changes, the solution will instantly become antiquated and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable?
Feb. 3, 2016 06:30 PM EST Reads: 310
Welcome to the first top DevOps news roundup of 2016! At the end of last year, we saw some great predictions for 2016. While we’re excited to kick off the new year, this week’s top posts reminded us to take a second to slow down and really understand the current state of affairs. For example, do you actually know what microservices are – or aren’t? What about DevOps? Does the emphasis still fall mostly on the development side? This week’s top news definitely got the wheels turning and just migh...
Feb. 3, 2016 03:00 PM EST Reads: 287
Test automation is arguably the most important innovation to the process of QA testing in software development. The ability to automate regression testing and other repetitive test cases can significantly reduce the overall production time for even the most complex solutions. As software continues to be developed for new platforms – including mobile devices and the diverse array of endpoints that will be created during the rise of the Internet of Things - automation integration will have a huge ...
Feb. 3, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 639
Providing a full-duplex communication channel over a single TCP connection, WebSocket is the most efficient protocol for real-time responses over the web. If you’re utilizing WebSocket technology, performance testing will boil down to simulating the bi-directional nature of your application. Introduced with HTML5, the WebSocket protocol allows for more interaction between a browser and website, facilitating real-time applications and live content. WebSocket technology creates a persistent conne...
Feb. 3, 2016 07:00 AM EST Reads: 310