Cries for Greater Transparency Start to Reach the Data Center

    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.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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