Virtualization and cloud computing do wonders for streamlining data center infrastructure, but it comes with a conundrum: The more you consolidate resources at the end points, the more you need to rely on a smooth-running network to keep it all together.
Unfortunately, as more data makes its way onto network resources, it becomes harder and harder to identify and correct trouble spots before they produce a full-blown outage.
But as the saying goes, where there's a problem, there's an opportunity. And from the looks of this year's network-management crop, the focus is not just on improving network insight and management, but in consolidating disparate capabilities into single management stacks.
Emulex is a prime example. The company has a new version of its OneCommand system, OneCommand Vision, that oversees I/O relationships across Fibre Channel-based physical, virtual and cloud pathways. The system provides both analysis and optimization across operating systems, adapters, network devices and storage points. The company also says it can be integrated easily into legacy system and storage-management platforms and is compatible with non-Emulex hardware as well.
EMC is on a similar track, updating its Ionix platform to account for outages caused by mis-configurations in rapidly changing virtual and cloud environments. The Ionix for IT Operations Intelligence platform offers automated root-cause analysis across various virtual infrastructures like ESX and Hyper-V and can even be deployed directly on virtual machines for quick reconfiguration and higher availability. It also features a rapid discovery tool that boosts response times some 20 percent in high-latency environments.
For HP customers, the company is out with a new version of the Network Node Manager software that offers increased visibility into network congestion generated by virtual machine traffic. In addition to the standard Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), the new NNMi employs protocols like sFlow, NetFlow and the Internet Protocol Service Level Agreement (IPSLA) to gain device-level insight into traffic patterns and performance levels.
Enhanced insight into optical networks is also in the offing this year, providing increased levels of control over wide-area services. Net Optics has added a new management platform to its Indigo portfolio that brings two formerly separate solutions, the Manager Pro and Collector Pro, under a single interface. The system uses a series of appliances to gather data on network traffic and throughput and stores it in a central repository where it can be accessed for statistical modeling and performance evaluation.
No doubt, many data center managers are already aware of the importance of network monitoring in virtualized environments. For those that are just coming to that realization, the important thing to remember is that it is much easier to implement a management regime before the impact of virtualization is felt, not after.