Cries for Greater Transparency Start to Reach the Data Center

Michael Vizard

Like it or not, IT operations are going to be under more scrutiny than ever. As energy consumption in the data center becomes a more controversial issue and business executives come to realize the crucial role data centers play in their daily operations, business leaders want to better understand the forces at work. After all, it’s becoming apparent to them that not only is the business dependent on the availability of the services provided by those data centers, an increasingly bigger chunk of the organization, but costs are being consumed by them.

viz20121002-02Historically, IT organizations only had access to arcane data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools that only a trained professional could decipher. But as those tools continue to evolve, new offerings are making it easier for business executives to understand what’s taking place inside the data center.

Case in point is IO, a provider of a set of IO.OS tools that it describes as being the first operating system for the data center. Not too long ago, the company extended that vision to include smartphones running Apple iOS or Google Android. According to Kevin Malik, IO.OS general manager and CIO, in addition to making the lives of IT professionals easier, this capability will mean that increasingly non-technical types will be able to better understand what is actually transpiring in the data center.

That creates something of a conundrum for IT professionals. On the one hand, pressure to be seen doing something about, for example, energy costs in the data center definitely require more transparency across the data center, especially when dealing with senior managers. On the other hand, giving people tools that help visualize processes that they don’t really understand might be seen as an invitation to meddling.

On the whole, more business executives are becoming savvier about data center operations. But before an IT organization gives business executives access to applications that allow them to track what’s happening in the data center, they should probably make sure those executives have a firm grasp of at least the basics of data center operations. Otherwise, every blip on a screen is likely to set off a wave of text messages that could easily wind up sapping more IT productivity than the greater transparency is worth. But properly managed, those tools should showcase how competent the IT organization actually is, which, in an era where everyone is always questioning the value of IT, can never be a bad thing.

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Oct 3, 2012 1:48 PM TomTom4587 TomTom4587  says:
Mike, Have you seen the NY Times portrayal of the current state of the data center?James Glanz: "Power, Pollution and the Internet" (PPI). The most sense I've made of this article is to read it as an investigative assignment that turned into a lifestyle piece. The Times apparently invested a year into thinking about environmental degradation associated with computing, didn't know what to do with its findings, and reshaped them to fit a more familiar narrative model. People think computing is hip and cool, Glanz tells us, but–lo, the dramatic tension–in fact it requires much electricity generated in nasty old power plants. True enough. When Glanz attempts to explain the detailed engineering behind datacenters, though, it all turns wrong, or, more precisely, it turns into the kinds of explanation most often found in public-school textbooks: the words are all ones the technically-adept use, but they're out of order. ( The article has seen tremendous circulation and vocal feedback. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts as well Reply

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