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Managing Data Center Assets

January 31, 2012 - 0 Comments

Its hard to believe that almost an entire month has gone by since the beginning of the year.  The year has been off to a great start for Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) now serving 10,000 customers.  Reaching the 10,000-customer milestone is an achievement for relatively new and innovative platform.

Generally asset management implies financial management but this discussion is focused on operational management of the data center components. Typically, in Data Centers, different teams manage servers, networks and storage.  These teams have cursory knowledge of each other’s domains.  This organizational structure hinders data centers from obtaining higher efficiencies and agility.  Data Center Management tools that allow automated workflows with enforcement of policies set by domain experts reduce time needed to effect changes and hence increase agility.   Unified server, network and storage infrastructures with proper management capabilities improve overall efficiency, reduce data center complexity and promote better resource utilization.  With Unified infrastructures the server management teams can make informed decisions on application workload placement based on their visibility into the network setup and policies set by the Network domain experts.  For example, a server administrator could place more sensitive applications on servers that are connected to very secure network segments, or place bandwidth hungry applications on network segments with spare capacity.  If network managers need to move network segment capacity around they would need the equivalent of network hypervisors.  These decisions which affect multiple domains could be manually executed or orchestrated with systems management tools.  The crowning glory would be for the end customer of the IT service to request infrastructure services from a catalog and get access to it instantaneously.  A Forrester Research paper that Cisco sponsored even shows a maturity model for service orchestration within a data center.  Where do you think your organization is on this maturity model?

The Cisco Unified Management architecture, being featured at Cisco Live London, brings all the concepts necessary to build a flexible, agile data center to fruition. Cisco IT even has an implementation of Infrastructure as a service using the Cisco UCS and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.  Cisco IT can now provide compute power on demand in less than 15 minutes as opposed to the hours it took before the use of the Unified Management architecture.  It is necessary to understand the ingredients that make this capability possible. Firstly, a highly available network is absolutely essential. There is no “IT as a service” without reliable, 24×7, network connectivity.  Next, the building blocks of the infrastructure should have exposed a programmable interfaces or APIs in order to be monitored, configured and orchestrated.  Cisco UCS does this by exposing an open XML API.  A software emulator even mimics the behavior of the system with the API.  To see Cisco UCS in action check out Cisco UCS Test Drive.

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