Adopting a Single-View Management Infrastructure

Arthur Cole

The beauty of both cloud computing and virtualization is that it lets you convert your data center from a collection of discrete components into a flexible, scalable pool of resources.

Well, yes, but that's not the whole story.

You see, once your server, storage and networking capabilities are available at large, you'll need a way to manage them so they can be used in tandem, without leading to virtual sprawl that ties things up with idle pursuits nor producing data bottlenecks because applications in one environment can't find the resources it needs in another.

That's why many of the latest enterprise management suites are aiming for what is called a single-view approach to the enterprise -- that is, taking stock of all available resources and plugging the gaps that prevent them from being used as a cohesive whole.

One of these is the new ManageEngine IT 360 from, naturally, ManageEngine. The company has compiled a variety of networking, systems and applications management modules into a single user interface called the Business Dashboard. The interface can be customized for any number of users, from a lowly admin to the CIO, and can extend across multiple environments, such as Windows, Linux and UNIX file servers, app servers, mail systems and even WAN components. It also provides an integrated ITIL-ready Service Desk with tools like automated trouble ticketing, change management modules and a knowledge base.

EMC is heading in a similar direction with the Ionix software line. The latest component is the Data Center Insight Manager designed to act as a common interface for all manner of enterprise software. The company is looking to overcome the problem of multiple departments using their own naming conventions and other markers in the configuration management database, which ends up confusing applications because individual components often get tagged with multiple names -- say, one for DNS and another for Windows. And the problem is compounded whenever an infrastructure change is made.

Improving the CMBD is also the goal at Intelliden, which recently unveiled the NetNovo automation system. It essentially acts as a "network CMBD" in that it provides a repository for all network management data, with a full set of APIs for queries and publishing information. In this way, it can provide automated updates on network configuration changes to the enterprise CMBD, so network views and policies can be updated accordingly. The company says this approach allows it to accommodate multiple management modes to suit various admin skill levels, support numerous regulatory, security and engineering mandates and standards, and enable rapid integration with third-party applications.

Managing a single data center is one thing, but the rise of the cloud means that vital resources may soon be spread around the world. A California company called Chatsworth Products Inc. (CPI) says it is kicking management up to a global scale with its Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions. The package offers the ability to monitor and control systems wherever they happen to reside, with modules covering everything from asset management to power and thermal control. The system is built around the Scalable Enterprise Management Application (SEMA), which acts as the central storehouse for devices across the network.

There's no question that resource management in the age of the cloud will be a challenge, and it is still very likely that admins will have their hands full once users grow accustomed to provisioning their own resources as they need them. That's why it's crucial at this point to bring as much management capability under one roof as possible, so at least you have a chance of keeping things under control when the world of finite resources gives way to a world of infinite ones.

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