One of the ways in which the cloud will change enterprise IT is in how it will perceive, and ultimately manage, basic infrastructure.
Care and maintenance of the physical layer will always be someone’s responsibility, although at many organizations that will shift from the enterprise itself to the cloud provider. Increasingly, though, productivity will rest not on the smooth functioning of server, storage and networking components, but on the smooth interaction between the physical, virtual, cloud and application layers. But this poses a problem because, depending on the cloud architecture, ultimate control of each of these elements could very well be split between the enterprise user and various third-party providers.
This is part of the reason why Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is drawing so much attention of late. Earlier, I noted that DCIM is a vital tool for the efficient and effective use of data infrastructure. But with a nod to just how quickly things are evolving in the data center at the moment, that now appears to be selling DCIM short. Rather than simply driving efficiencies on the physical layer, it now appears the technology will be a crucial driver for the cloud. In fact, it is getting increasingly difficult to see how the cloud will function without DCIM.
As tech consultant Bill Kleyman noted recently, modern data infrastructure is nothing if not fragmented, and is becoming more so. Organizations that are already dealing with multiple offices, disparate server and storage architectures and various middleware and application platforms will soon find themselves with even more inconsistency in the cloud. With DCIM, enterprises, cloud providers, even telecommunications firms, gain a unified approach to overseeing the entire data infrastructure, with special attention given to the interactions between power distribution, disparate hardware/software elements and data loads. On top of that, the leading systems are starting to incorporate change management processes to help with the dynamic nature of the cloud.
If anything is lacking, however, it’s that most DCIM platforms are geared toward the enterprise rather than service providers and telcos, says a new report from Heavy Reading. The more disparate the infrastructure, the greater the need to enhance visibility into virtual environments and dynamic configuration processes. And if we’re looking to drive efficiencies, then there is bound to be a wealth of opportunity on the carrier network level.
As cloud providers assume a greater role in supporting the enterprise data ecosystem, DCIM is likely to become the primary means to ensure not only efficiency and cost-effectiveness but service delivery and availability as well. As World of Computers pointed out in a recent editorial, shared resources are the provider’s bread and butter, so up-to-the-minute data on asset utilization, power distribution, usage patterns and other factors is crucial. And organizations that employ predictive analytics and systems modeling along with DCIM will be better able to integrate new users by speeding up the migration process.
Diversity of management platforms has long been one of the chief ailments of enterprise infrastructure, even more so now that virtualization has broken down the silo-based architectures that had evolved over many years.
Ultimately, the enterprise needs to get to a point where the entire enterprise infrastructure, from legacy systems to private and public clouds, functions as one. In order to do that, however, we’ll need a management stack that can cut across the boundaries that still exist.