Managing Your Way Out of the Silo

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Five Keys to Creating the Data Center of Tomorrow

It's probably nice to think of the coming virtual/cloud era as the end of duplication, inefficiency and performance bottlenecks. And maybe someday that will be the reality for many organizations, but for now there is still a fair amount of resource silos out there that must be redesigned into forward-facing, dynamic infrastructure.

Fortunately, the vast majority of this legacy equipment is already capable of making the switch, which means the future can be here as soon as upgrades to the management stack come through.

The siloed architecture is the primary target of new data management systems like VMware's "software-defined datacenter" initiative. Although details aren't due until later this year, the idea is to elevate the data environment from underlying hardware, enabling IT managers to build up and tear down working data environments on a regular basis. The company describes it as the next level of hypervisor and virtual machine management in that it encompasses things like configuration and capacity management, application deployment, security and availability and even backup and recovery. In this way, enterprises will be more capable of accommodating mobile apps, Big Data analysis, social networking and collaboration.

This dovetails nicely with what VMware parent EMC is doing with its management platforms. The company recently unveiled the DataBridge system that looks to create IT-as-a-service platforms through mashups of operations data. The system delivers greater insight into virtual and physical infrastructures using a single management interface, while at the same time allowing users to devise "widgets" that can be deployed across the organization for increased flexibility and management flexibility.

No matter how you slice it, however, the fact is that virtual and cloud environments increase data loads while maintaining or even reducing hardware infrastructure. That means services and applications must contend with each other for available resources, which can hamper performance if not handled properly. Xangati Inc. says it can smooth out these relationships with the Xangati Management Dashboard (XMD), providing second-by-second data collection and analysis and linked alert recordings that can solve conflicts more quickly than traditional database-driven systems.

Management systems also have to take into account the fact that converged networking and unified communications are fostering a level of integration that can stymie attempts to manage physical and logical data architectures. That's why Enterasys Networks and Egenera have teamed up on the Intelligent Data Center platform by integrating the OneFabric architecture and the PAN Manager. The goal is to provide a policy-based management and provisioning system that spans network services, applications and devices to more closely track the goings on within converged infrastructure. The system is open-source to inhibit vendor lock-in and provides QoS capability from the access device to the core.

You won't see many IT managers come to the defense of silos these days, but there is something to be said for caution when it comes to upending long-held architectural systems. As servers become virtualized, networks become flatter and storage becomes more flexible, the ability to pool resources will only increase. Siloed architecture, then, will fall away by necessity rather than through such noble ideals as streamlining hardware footprints or saving money.

The management system is the key component in all of this, so it's crucial that development and deployment focus on eliminating silos - not just easing their operation.

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