With another holiday season on us—it seems to arrive earlier every year, or at least that’s what you’d think—consumers aren’t the only ones wishing for goodies in their stockings; data center managers also have their own wish lists of toys they’d like to find in their stockings (or at least in their facilities), even though their hopes may be directed more toward the C-suite than toward Santa. So, what are some presents this holiday season that would make data center managers as happy as, well, children on Christmas morning? The following are some areas where a little help from Santa will go a long way to this end.
Having lots of cool toys is great—but there’s always the worry that someone will break in and steal or destroy them, leaving you with nothing, or with worthless junk. Data center managers are often in charge of millions of dollars of equipment, and they are guarding a key asset (the data center) that keeps the company on its feet. Rakesh Shah, Director of Product and Marketing Strategy for Arbor Networks, notes that data center managers would enjoy receiving “purpose-built solutions to protect their most critical assets,” such as “solutions that are easy to deploy and provide the type of visibility, reporting, functionality and forensics they need to show management what happened and why, and how they defended against it. Given the existing pressure on IT teams, having more time to do proactive planning, incident response preparedness, reporting, etc. would be most welcome.”
Shah further states that such a solution should be good at “identifying, analyzing and mitigating attacks in a real-time, [and should be] integrated and in a largely automated way. . . Existing security products such as a firewall or an IPS, while key elements of an overall security strategy, are not effective solutions against DDoS attacks.” The ideal present in this case? A purpose-built intelligent DDoS mitigation solution that resides “at the edge of the data center, protecting availability and existing infrastructure, which is often a target of these attacks.”
What could be better than some peace of mind for the upcoming year? Better security may not be the only key to getting there, but it certainly helps. As Shah states, “The potential harm from an attack against availability can be catastrophic, including significant business costs such as lost revenue, broken SLAs and customer churn. Long after an attack is mitigated, the brand and reputational damage can linger for years.”
So, Santa, remember that nice data center managers want greater security for their facilities!
Data Center Wish List
Improving What’s Already There
Perhaps you’ve enjoyed the feeling of taking an old, dirty car filled with a bunch of trash and stale fast food, and cleaning it up to make it look new. You might almost feel like you have a new car! So, maybe instead of a new toy, per se, Santa should deliver something that enables data center managers to “clean up” what they have, maybe even to the point of getting that “new data center” smell! (Okay, not really—but you know what I mean.)
Dave Saunders, VP of engineering for Bluehawk Networks, summarizes this wish: “Instead of buying new stuff, which usually results in more IT headaches, how about a different approach? Invest in the resources you have.”
Instead of Santa delivering a bunch of new gadgets, perhaps he could instead deliver a list of another kind: what the data center manager can get rid of to make his or her life a lot easier. Sure, it may not be as fun as ripping the packaging off a new toy, but the benefits and satisfaction of finding more free space and more energy leeway can outlast the novelty of a gadget. “Entropy may be the natural progression of the universe, but that doesn't mean you can't clean up once in a while. While others are nestled away for a winter's nap, it might be the perfect time to decommission a failing printer; clean up the messy, untraceable patch panels and bring a little order. . . If you’re a VMware user, it might be a great opportunity to migrate your hosts to vSphere version 5.0 and bone up on the new benefits through their online training,” Saunders said.
But Saunders isn’t suggesting that Santa leave the goodies off his delivery manifesto this year—but with those goodies, old Saint Nick would be kind to provide a little extra time to evaluate where the company—and specifically the data center—is headed over the next year. Demand for IT services is rising, as is the cost of the energy needed to run the data center, and creating a plan for employing Christmastime toys in the new year is an excellent strategy. “Year-end can be a fun time to spend extra budget on new gizmos and software, but before you do any of that, take a moment to reflect on what you really want to do and set out to do it, on purpose, in 2012.”
Help with Data Management in the Data Center
Data storage demands are another growing strain on data centers. The flood of information must be processed and, as appropriate, stored (and even backed up!) for later retrieval, giving Santa ample opportunities to make data center managers happy this year. Wayne Salpietro, Director of Product/Social Media Marketing at Permabit, cites several areas in particular where data center managers could use a helping hand this holiday season: data growth, IT budget (particularly in relation to data storage needs) and the emergence of “big data.”
To help ameliorate this strain, Salpietro believes broader data deduplication equipment could be just what the doctor (or, at least, Dr. Claus) ordered. The solution? “Data Deduplication that cuts across the entire data center ‘everywhere,’ not just a backup appliance. If applied from the applications, OSs, databases, across all storage tiers including primary, SSD, backup, archive and even to the cloud, ‘Dedupe Everywhere’ will help address the key issues mentioned above by reducing the data growth to manageable levels, reducing the amount of storage necessary to be acquired to meet anticipated data growth and enabling big data to become an example of IT delivering a business asset that can help drive revenue.”
But Salpietro believes that Santa could be most generous by helping to ease the budget strain that many data center managers are experiencing in this area. Maybe gift certificates aren’t such a tacky idea after all—and they’ll lighten Santa’s load quite a bit.
All the Small Things
The big presents are fun, but sometimes it’s the smattering of other smaller gifts that really makes for a standout Christmas. Kevin Timmons, CTO of CyrusOne, thinks that a little wisdom could be as good a gift as any gadget: “Broadly speaking, I think we’d love Santa to help us figure out what ‘The Cloud’ is going to mean to our facilities. Will Santa be bringing cloud services to our data center this year as has been promised/threatened? Will the Cloud Grinch show up on Christmas Eve and migrate our existing load to a public cloud? Will we need to implement a private cloud architecture by placing additional capacity in Whoville?”
And why treat Christmas as a single day when the joy can be spread across several? Timmons offers a data center manager wish list for four of the twelve days: “Four indirect evaporative cooling units, three thermal sensors (per rack), two lighting automation systems, and a partridge in a pear tree.” Why not a partridge in a pear tree? Couldn’t be worse than getting yet another tie.
Many data center managers have seen operations come to a screeching halt because some person (in the spirit of the season, let’s withhold epithets) thought the emergency power off (EPO) button was a door opener. So, this short Christmas wish list (which, of course, only touches on a few things data center managers want—how many years did you get everything you asked of Santa?) ends with a humorous (only because it’s so fitting) request from Timmons: “Santa, please bring me a smarter EPO button. One that doesn’t look like a door release, right next to the door.”
May all your data center wishes come true this holiday season.