Data centre control

A seismic shift is underway in the data centre. The pressure of inflating operational costs, the ever-increasing density of equipment and the imperative to create a more flexible, business-responsive IT infrastructure have combined to form an irresistible force for change.

Those dynamics are all too evident in the annual investigation of data centre practices undertaken by data and infrastructure management software company Symantec.

One striking response from the 500 data centre professionals questioned highlighted a desire for much greater flexibility. According to Guy Bunker, chief scientist at Symantec, much of that rigidity stems from the highly complex nature of most data centre environments – a complexity that businesses have largely sought to tackle through consolidation of infrastructure and the streamlining systems management procedures.

The survey highlights how over half of businesses (52%) are looking to further consolidate servers, applications and operating systems within the data centre. There is an appetite to re-impose order within the data centre, says Bunker, with almost all organisations (98%) saying they have embraced or are on the road to implementing best practice frameworks such as ITIL. “ITIL provides comprehensive guidelines, but these can be tailored to businesses particular requirements,” he adds.

Nevertheless, taking control of the data centre infrastructure presents some tricky issues – not least of which is the proliferation of management tools. The Symantec survey highlights that on average European businesses will have deployed more than 10 different tools to manage their data centre infrastructure; 80% of respondents also say that the number of tools they have deployed has increased in the last year.

The feedback strongly supports rationalisation of these management tools, says Bunker, however that has not always been a simple undertaking. Factors such as business mergers mean that data centre managers often find themselves lumbered with a wider set of tools, despite having embarked on a rationa-lisation programme.

In such cases, the best approach is to take a strategic view of tool selection, which stipulates that toolsets are standards-based and capable of operating in heterogeneous environments.

“It’s natural to want to minimise the number of tools you have, but some-times circumstances conspire against that,” explains Bunker. “You need to have a good understanding of how you go about choosing which tools to use.”

Henry Catchpole

Henry Catchpole runs Inform Direct, a company records management software company which simplifies the process of dealing with Companies House. The business was set up in 2013.

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