The trend toward recentralization of the enterprise data center puts new pressure on data center-based systems management. As more distributed systems are reeled back into the data center, the ante is being raised regarding the performance, availability, recoverability, scalability, and security of the systems, applications, data, and infrastructure.
“There’s a transformation under way, from the physical to the virtual. Organizations are loading up more and diverse workloads and running more virtual workloads. This is changing everything,” says Brad Day, senior analyst at Forrester Research.
Complicating the challenge is the unconventional nature of many of the new workloads coming into the data center. Web 2.0, rich media, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), converged networks, cloud computing, mobility, and more change the very notion of enterprise data center management. And the people who come with these systems aren’t likely to be experienced and disciplined data center veterans but a new generation of administrators whose distributed systems are being recentralized.
“The mainframe plays a big role in the new enterprise data center, but it goes beyond the mainframe,” says Peter McCaffrey, IBM’s director of enterprise systems. Driving this change is virtualization. “Through virtualization, you decouple the infrastructure from the application layer,” he explains. This decoupling enables such activities as cloud computing, where users take advantage of services from outside the data center. Although users may love this new world, the data center manager has reason to be nervous.
Another reason to be nervous: Business Service Management (BSM). “Now executives are asking IT operations to be managed in accordance with business priorities. At the IT management level that means breaking down silos, at least in terms of communications and management,” says John McKenny, vice president/worldwide marketing for mainframe service management at BMC Software, Inc.
This is where IBM also sees data center management going. It’s less about managing individual devices, systems, applications, or data. Just keeping systems up and running is no longer enough. Now data center management is about BSM, meeting service commitments, and aligning with strategic goals.
“In the past, managers managed the resources, the devices. But what you really care about is the service. That means you have to align resources with the business service,” says Vince Re, senior vice president/chief architect at CA, Inc. Email, for instance, is a vital business service, a showstopper if it goes down. When that happens, the problem could be anywhere from a browser on a remote desktop to any number of physical and virtual servers and the network links that connect it all.
At a high level, IT alignment with the business is simply good fiscal management. “Now you think: We have to support a business need, what’s the right place to put it in terms of cost or resiliency or performance or security?” adds Ralph Crosby, data management infrastructure architect at BMC. To address issues such as this, BMC is touting its BSM platform built around the BMC Atrium product.
This means managers will have to rethink their approaches to management. To resolve a problem such as the failure of the email service, they will have to think about managing across traditional IT silos (application, network, storage), often analyzing systems data in real-time with business objectives in mind. They also will need to bolster their management tools with new offerings from IBM, CA, BMC, and others. The bright spot in all this, says McCaffrey: “It’s easier to do this in a centralized environment.”
New Roles, New Tools