Monday, October 5, 2009

Management silos

Currently, most organizations split the management of the data center among different groups: networking, storage, systems and possibly regulatory compliance. Enterprise applications require resources from each of these functional areas and a failure in any of these areas can have a significant impact on the business. The strategy of splitting management responsibilities by functional area has worked because these functional areas have traditionally been loosely coupled and the data center environment has been relatively static.

The trend towards convergence of computing, storage and networking in order to create a more dynamic and efficient infrastructure makes these different functions richly dependent on each other, forcing a change in management strategy. For example, server virtualization means that a small change made by the systems group could have a major effect on network bandwidth. The increasing demand for bandwidth by networked storage accounts for a significant proportion of overall network bandwidth, again making the network vulnerable to changes made by the storage group. The recent Gmail outage illustrates the complex relationships between the elements needed to maintain services in a converged environment.

Convergence and interdependence between the resources in a converged data center requires a cross functional approach to management in order to ensure successful operations. The diagram shows the migration management silos in which each group monitors their own resources and uses their own management tools (but has very limited visibility into the other components of the data center), to an integrated management strategy in which all the components in the data center are monitored by a single measurement system that provides shared visibility into all the elements of the data center. Data center wide visibility is critical, ensuring that each group is aware of its impact on shared resources, eliminating finger pointing, and providing the information needed to take control of the data center.

The sFlow measurement technology, built into most vendors network equipment, ensures data center wide visibility of all resource, including switches, storage, servers, blade servers and virtual servers. As networks, systems and storage converge, the visibility provided by sFlow in the network provides an increasingly complete picture of all aspects of data center operations, delivering the converged visibility needed to manage the converged data center.

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