Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mixing Up The Future Data Center

As we get into December, end of the year in sight, its summary and predictions time. We look back, evaluate and learn, and more excitingly we look around and try our best to foresee what the future holds for us. Data centers are no exception. Last week, at the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas, Dell VP of Enterprise Marketing and Strategy Praveen Asthana presented a very insightful look on just how mixed the Data Center of the future will be. According to Dell, the race of technologies to win over the data center won’t be won by any single discipline, but rather the result will be a hybrid, mixed environment, bridging legacy and new technologies. In the future data center virtualization, private and public clouds will live peacefully together, on top of a mixed physical and virtual infrastructure.

What this calls for is, in Dell’s words, products that are simple, that integrate well with existing IT environments and which will allow choice.

Minicom, for one, is taking a similar approach with its product development. We believe that every IT pro should enjoy the freedom to choose IT infrastructure products based on value, performance and quality, without being forced into vendor-lock in. Being open and vendor neutral, our Remote Access Management systems provide access and control to the data center’s mixed IT infrastructure in a central way, allowing choice as mentioned above. With our KVM over IP technology we offer seamless integrating with legacy analog KVM switches from hundreds of vendors, thus preventing forklift upgrades and yet again allow choice. We call this approach the Real Needs of IT.

Happy Holidays and have a great 2012!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How long does the glue on DCIM post-it notes last?

As a top IT pro in the data center, you’re probably chuckling because you actually know the answer to that question!

When it boils down to Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) monitoring your equipment is just not enough. Even the most organized IT manager has innumerable sticky notes papering their walls.  Accompanied with a host of homegrown spreadsheets dedicated to organizing the long lists of IP addresses, passwords, and multivendor equipment information you need to access and control your IT infrastructure smoothly, on a daily basis.  And that makes perfect sense – those IP addresses and passwords are things you need at your fingertips on a moment’s notice – no time to search for them when something goes wrong.

Chances are, you’ve been through this nightmare scenario before: IT is notified of an issue.  The first course of action is to open the spreadsheet, locate the name of the server, and copy and paste its IP address, password and user name info. This can require opening and closing numerous browsers and applications – something that takes dozens of mouse clicks and many minutes – before a device can be found and accessed.  Once the device is located, you’ve got to fix the problem. You may go for an RDP session and fail, attempt a KVM-over-IP connection, or even worse – need to force a reboot through the PDU, each of which starts the copy and paste process all over again. This kind of downtime adds up. Over a typical shift, the wasted minutes can easily turn to wasted hours of valuable work time just searching for the right information.

What you need in order to safe guard your DCIM system, is a central access console, a singular control panel, where you can see and capably manage all of your computing resources no matter where they are physically located –from the network closet to an off-site data center to a co-location facility in another city or state. - But make sure to choose the right solution!

Here is a checklist you should use when selecting a remote access management (RAM) solution that will strategically fit your DCIM system in place. Ask yourself if the solution does all seven of these things:
  1. Supports a wide range of vendors: Select a solution that prevents vendor lock-in; make sure it supports all the equipment acquired over the years and offers the ability to add any brand of IT equipment – PDU, IP KVM switch, console server, or other network device in an unlimited array of vendor options.
  2. Integrates in-band and out-of-band access options: A seamless combination of the two means, even if the blue screen of death appears, crashed servers can be restarted and downtime minimized with one-click KVM over IP access from the same pane of glass used for everyday maintenance.
  3. Simplifies access: What makes a remote access solution truly powerful is a combination of one user interface, one url and one set of security rules.  When it comes to remote access management as part of DCIM, simplicity is king.
  4. Provides seamless access to power control: The only way to avoid disastrous mistakes like rebooting the wrong server is to have full control of the PDU from within the remote access management solution’s user interface.
  5. Maximizes tools that have already been deployed: Don’t throw out what works!  A must-have in remote access management is the ability for the IT staff to continue to use the existing remote access tools they find most effective and comfortable under a larger, more efficient and secure remote access umbrella.
  6. Overcomes implementation challenges: Look for a solution that can be installed in hours – not a month and not a week.
  7. Increases IT efficiency while maintaining security: Select a secure remote access solution that authenticates users with the organization’s own active directory, assigning user names and passwords created according to profile and task assignment.

What this all means is that Remote Access Management and Data Center Infrastructure Management are inextricably linked! Or in other words - if you don’t have a RAM, you really don’t have DCIM.

And if that’s not enough, just think how nice your wall will look without all those post-its on it...

Monday, December 05, 2011

What do slices of a hot Pizza have to do with DCIM?

No Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is complete without a Remote Access Management system in place!
The Full DCIM Pizza

Yes, you heard right. Now, you are probably asking, what does Remote Access Management have to do with DCIM?

The answer is - A lot! Today infrastructure equipment at all levels is becoming more important and more critical to the smooth operation of data centers, in other words, it has direct impact on lowering costs, tightening security and increasing efficiency. But DCIM is not only about monitoring and planning, it is also about managing all your access control tools and methods.

Remote Access Management (RAM) is one of the most vital slices of the DCIM ‘Pizza’ that is not getting the full attention it deserves. So let’s cut the chase and state it clearly: All other DCIM slices, as important as they may be, are compromised if you cannot manage the access to your data center infrastructure!

Think of the ordering process of a hot, sizzling family Pizza – the pictures on the website look awesome, you can practically “smell” the Pizza over the phone. The person taking your order is sweet and polite, you get all the flavors you asked for and you even get a special price for being such a nice guy, but – all this is worthless without a fast and reliable delivery that brings the Pizza hot and sizzling to your doorstep…  

So why don’t you take a closer look at your overall DCIM strategy and make sure that you have all the slices in place, and not missing the management of your remote access!