Using Server Virtualization to Cool 4 Data Center 'Hotspots'

by Kenneth Hess

Finding your data center hotspots is one problem. Resolving them is another. Server virtualization may be part of the answer.

As much as we like to brag about how great our data centers are, how much money we've sunk into them, how we have the "most modern" technology available, and toss out buzzwords left and right to impress our glazed-over, tie-wearing guests, there's a harsh reality that we have to face: Hotspots. And, yes, you have them. But, before you have one of your onsite employees search aisle by aisle for heat problems, not that these hotspots have nothing to do with temperature.

These hotspots are those nagging breakdowns in data center management, system deployment and service delivery. And the answer to these data center hotspot problems is another familiar buzzword: Virtualization.

You've gone to great lengths to bring your customers the very best in technology, yet you limp along with outdated management applications, tools and techniques. Now, it's time to bring your management into the same century as your hardware and turn those hotspots into selling points.

1. Management

Chances are good that you have several applications, including spreadsheets, that help you manage your data center. Spreadsheets and desktop-level database programs don't handle data center management efficiently. You also probably have a "village" of employees managing that data center who represent every IT discipline known. You can trim your budget and streamline your operations with a "unified" operations approach. Using a virtual data center management application suite, you'll have everything you need to manage that virtual infrastructure from a centralized application.

Bear in mind that management is more than just a simple system inventory. It includes infrastructure management from top to bottom and side to side. A true enterprise data center management tool provides patch management, configuration, deployment, performance, capacity, networking, workload management, business continuity and a comprehensive view of your data center and its entire component makeup.

2. Data Center Management Suite Essential Components

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Inventory
  • Monitoring
  • Storage analysis
  • Performance and capacity
  • Patch management
  • Automated provisioning
  • Enhanced customer portal
  • Security
  • Scalable to thousands of entities
  • Remote management
  • Auditing
  • Multi-vendor capabilities

3. Deployment

Virtualization simplifies and streamlines deployment efforts on its own, but with the right management tools in place, the job is even easier. If deployment of a new system burns hundreds of hours for procurement, provisioning and setup, you're wasting your time and your customer's time. A centralized management application automates provisioning and configuration. You'll cut down the lengthy process from weeks to hours using an intelligent management system.

You can also track system lifecycles, create templates and enjoy managing up to 10,000 virtual machines from a scalable management platform.

4. Service Delivery

Although it's last in this list, service delivery is a major pain point for those on both sides of the delivery table. If delivery is one of your hotspots, consider the possibilities with that new virtual data center management suite. For you, on the service delivery provider side, you'll enjoy your new enabled environment and remote management capability. Virtual machine management, resource optimization, absolute control and security give you the peace of mind you need for flawless delivery of the SLAs to which you've agreed.

You also want a customer portal that allows users to perform some system management for themselves. Customer empowerment is one of the new data center hotspot quenchers. Providing customers with a management portal cuts down on support calls and empowers users to have greater control in their environments.

If you're on the receiving side of that service delivery table, you want to know that the company you've hired to manage your environment has the ultimate view into your virtual systems, their health and their security. This visibility includes alerts and notifications, metrics, and performance information. You need the comfort of immediate response to your changing needs. Additionally, you want the stability of a well-managed environment. These are possible only through the use of a true enterprise data management system.

Where should you look for such an enterprise management suite for your virtual data center? Your virtualization software vendor should have at least one recommendation for you -- probably theirs. But, there are suites that integrate heterogeneous systems without a specific virtualization technology lock-in.

Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which is scheduled for publication in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.

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This article was originally published on Friday Jun 25th 2010
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