an Server eBook®40 Ways to MakeYour Data CenterMore Efficient
2 10 Data Center Management Mistakes You Might Be Making4 10 System Administrator Tasks Ripe for Automation6 10 Free Serve...
2 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinSt...
3 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinSt...
4 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinSt...
5 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinSt...
6 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinSt...
7 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinSt...
8 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinSt...
9 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinSt...
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  1. 1. an Server eBook®40 Ways to MakeYour Data CenterMore Efficient
  2. 2. 2 10 Data Center Management Mistakes You Might Be Making4 10 System Administrator Tasks Ripe for Automation6 10 Free Server Tools Your Organization Needs8 Uncover Your 10 Most Painful Performance Bottlenecks4826Contents…This content was adapted from Contributor: Kenneth Hess.40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficient
  3. 3. 2 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.Back to Contents40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficientor those who think (falsely) that they havethe perfect data center, read on for someenlightenment. Those who work in thedata centers of their dreams might begto differ with your fantasy. Though you may not achievedesired perfection affordably, you can come close bychanging the way you handle certain aspects of your datacenter management. Managinga collection of computer systemsis no easy task. But, throughbetter management and properplanning that task might involvepopping fewer pain pills. Hereare the 10 major data centermistakes to avoid.1. Inadequate VirtualizationIf you operate a data centerand haven’t caught on thatvirtualization saves money,you’re way behind the curve.Virtualization saves valuable rackspace. It saves additional moneyon cooling, power and servicecontracts for those non-existentsystems.2. Untapped Cloud ComputingSimilar to virtualization, cloud computing requires thatyou obtain a clue about its capability for your company oryour customers. offers flexible and scalableplans that fit into an on-demand capacity scenario. UsingCanonical’s Ubuntu Linux Server Edition, for example,you can create your own private cloud or’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) dynamically.3. Design FlawsDesign flaws of a standing data center are difficult toovercome, but a redesign is less expensive than a freshbuild. A 20-year-old data center still looks good, but itdoesn’t perform up to today’s greener standards. You’llalso have to retrofit your electrical apparatus to handleblade systems. You’ll probably need to toss that oldcooling system as well, sincecontemporary servers run coolerand more efficiently than theirpredecessors did.4. Limited Expandability“640K of RAM ought to beenough for anybody.” How manytimes have you heard that quotethat’s attributed to Bill Gates,circa 1981? Whether he said itis of little importance now. Thelesson to learn is that when youbuild anything, pretend you’reconverting a Celsius temperatureto Fahrenheit: Double the amountyou think you need and add 32.Using the Celsius-to-Fahrenheitequation will allow for some expandability in your datacenter. Two thousand square feet of floor space isn’tenough? Try 4,032 feet instead. Poor planning is noreason to run out of floor space or any other capacity.5. Relaxed SecurityEnter any data center and you’ll see card readers,retina scanners, circle locks, weight scales or other hightechnology security systems in place. But, next to thoseextreme security measures, you’ll see a key entry access10 Data Center Management MistakesYou Might Be MakingBy Kenneth HessF
  4. 4. 3 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.Back to Contents40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficientdoor for security bypass. Physical security requires nobypass. If there’s a bypass in place, consider your securitycompromised.6. Haphazard Server ManagementTo manage your server systems, do you need physicalaccess or can you manage them remotely? Everycontemporary server system comes with a maintenanceconnection with which to manage that system remotely.Use it. Enable it. For each person who enters a datacenter, you can expect some amount of system failure.Incorrectly labeled systems, incorrect locations, a misreadsystem name — the list goes on. Do yourself a favor:Enable those remote access consoles when you provisionyour physical systems.7. Ill-fated Consolidation EffortsOne order of data center management business is tominimize the number of systems on the floor or in theracks. Server consolidation is the method by which thiseffort is carried out. Consider a consolidation ratio of2-to-1 or 3-to-1 unacceptable. Physical systems thatoperate in the 5 percent to 20 percent utilized range caneasily consolidate onto a system with five, six or more ofits peers. Underutilized systems waste rack space, powerand money in the form of service contracts.8. Overcooled/Undercooled SpaceWhat temperature is your data center? You should findout. If your data center operates below 70 degreesFahrenheit, you’re wasting money. Servers need air flowmore than they need arctic temperatures. Take a strollthrough your data center. If it’s comfortable for you, it’scomfortable for your servers. There’s no need to freezeyour data center employees or make them sweat.9. Underpowered FacilityHow many times have you heard that a particulardata center has floor space but no more power? Youhear it more than you should, if you hear it at all. Anunderpowered facility is a victim of poor planning. (SeeNo. 4 above.) Virtualization can help give you backsome power. Server consolidation can also assist. Butthose are short-term fixes for the greater problem of anunderpowered facility.10. Rack OvercrowdingIf you’ve ever attempted to work in a fully populated rack,you probably wished you had miniature hands or extralong fingers. It might seem inefficient to leave a bit ofspace between systems, but those who have the job ofplugging and unplugging components for those systemswill thank you. Poor planning leads to rack overcrowding,and it’s unnecessary. Virtualization, consolidation anda more efficient arrangement will ease the problem.Experiencing an outage because of accidentallyunplugging a server might convince you to leave a bit ofspace between systems.
  5. 5. 4 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.Back to Contents40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficientsystem administrator who does everythingmanually wastes not only her time but yoursas well. Tasks that a sys admin performsrepeatedly should be automated. Automationthrough scripting, specialized software and systemscheduling frees her time, saves you money and preventsmistakes due to human error. These 10 sys admin tasksare prime targets for automationand will help streamline your dailyoperations.1. PatchingThe only time manual patching iscalled for is when that stubbornminority of systems will not takepatches by automated means.Linux and Windows include toolsto perform automated updates,but if you’d like more controlof which patches your systemsreceive and when they receivethem, investigate HP’s Data CenterAutomation Center (HPDCAC)software (formerly Opsware). Much more than justan automated patching application, HPDCAC movesmanaging a complex infrastructure into a single, simpleinterface. If you’re looking for a “patch only” solution,check out Ecora’s Patch Manager for agentless patchmanagement.2. User and Group MaintenanceYou’ve probably used Active Directory, LDAP, NIS+ orother user and group account management software, buthave you ever used one that really made you happy? Thereason you haven’t is that there’s not a lot of automationbuilt into them. Sure, you can create a user account,remove a user account, and create groups and managegroups, but when it comes down to real management,you probably haven’t found the right tool. The one youwant might have to be the one you create yourself viascripts.In UNIX, it’s simple to create scripts to prompt you for theaccounts that you wish to remove, have the system copythe user’s files to a new location,change the permissions, search allsystems for any files owned by thatuser, change permissions on thosefiles, or move them and completethe process by removing theuser account from the directoryservice. Check out some of theadd-on modules for your usermanagement tool of choice.Microsoft, for example, offers itsActive Directory Resource Kit Bookand CD that includes utilities forautomation scripting.3. Security SweepsYou should perform regular, automated security sweepson your entire network to expose and fix any wire-bornevulnerabilities. The frequency and intensity of the scansdepends on the complexity of your network. Throughscripting magic, you can set up scheduled scans, sendthe output to a database, extract a post-scan report fromthe database, and email it to yourself or create an HTMLversion of the report suitable for online viewing. Onesuch tool, available for every modern operating system, isNmap. Nmap is a free network security scanner designedto rapidly scan large networks and report vulnerabilities.4. Disk Usage ScansThere is a constant turf war raging between users and sys10 System Administrator TasksRipe for AutomationBy Kenneth HessA
  6. 6. 5 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.Back to Contents40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficientadmins, and it is one that the sys admin must ultimatelywin. To that end, the sys admin has some tools to employ:disk space quotas, disk partitions and disk space scans.Scans are regular audits of disk space usage by user.Offenders usually receive a warning or two beforepersonal contact from a sys admin. Typical remedies fordisk space gluttons are temporary account suspension,removal of files, moving the files to a new location or anextension of the user’s space quota. These automatedscans, when performed regularly (about once per week),prevent harsh actions by the sys admin and keep usersapprised of their disk use.5. Performance MonitoringTaking an occasional performance snapshot is a goodmethod for a single point-in-time glance at systemperformance. That singular peek is only a pixel in theentire performance picture. You need something withmore depth and breadth that will provide you withperformance trends and predictive peaks and valleys.Setting up such a system is easy with Orca. Orca compilesperformance data from disparate sources (UNIX,Windows, Linux) and creates easy-to-read performancegraphs. Gathering of data, calculations, graph generationand display are all part of the automated system.6. File TransfersUsing command-line scripting power (Windows, UNIXand Linux), you can perform automated file transfersbetween hosts. There’s no need to do them interactively.If you’re clever in your timing, you can set up elaborateautomated schemes that not only transfer your files butalso unzip, change permissions, move, copy and insertinformation into a database. Use the secure versionsof your file transfer utilities (e.g., SSH, SFTP, SCP) toensure that anyone snooping doesn’t grab an importantpassword from your network stream.7. Code PromotionHow you promote code from test to staging and intoproduction can have a profound effect on marketingcampaigns and other time-specific events. Moving thecode from one environment to another manually iscumbersome, error-prone and requires coordinationbetween developers and sys admins. Enable yourdevelopers to promote code from one environment toanother using an automated code deployment system.Some sys admins use RSYNC for automated codedeployment and it’s safe to use if coupled with SSH keysto secure the transfers between hosts.8. High-Level AdministrationYou can perform those housekeeping duties, servicerestarts and maintenance notices through automation.Set up your scripts to fire during low-use hours forclearing temporary file dumps, restarting your favoriteservices and sending out any maintenance or downtimenotices via email. You’ll find that automating these taskstakes some of the pressure off of you to remember whichday it is and which list of things you need to do. There’sno reason to keep a calendar of these; let the systemhandle them.9. RebootsYes, you can automate system restarts. Sitting aroundwaiting for systems to bounce back to life is a waste oftime. Automate the process during low-use hours. Don’tworry, your automated monitoring system will notify you ifthe system doesn’t come back online within a reasonableamount of time.10. Malware ScansYou can scan for spyware, malware, viruses and othernasties using automated processes. Using scripts, you canmap or mount drives, scan your filesystems, disconnectwhen finished with the scan, scrape the scan log forpositive hits, and send the results to a database or in anemail. You don’t need to manually perform these scanswhen your system is perfectly happy and suited to do soon its own.
  7. 7. 6 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.Back to Contents40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficienthis list of 10 free, essential tools is anamalgam of tools for all sizes of companiesand networks. The range of tools coveredhere are generally cross-platform (i.e., theyrun on multiple OSes) but all are extremely useful to thesystem administrator, network administrator and first-level support personnel. While all of these tools are freeto download and use in your network without paymentof any kind to their developers or maintainers, not all areopen source. The 10 essentialtools listed here, in no particularorder, are from various sourcesand represent the very best intools currently used in large andsmall enterprises alike.1. PSToolsPSTools is a suite of usefulcommand-line Windows toolsthat IT professionals consideressential to survival in aWindows-infested network. Itprovides automation tools thathave no rival. There is no greaterfree toolset for Windows availableanywhere. Microsoft provides thissuite free of charge. If it’s not partof your Windows diagnostic and automation arsenal, stopreading and download it now. Be sure to come back andfinish the list. (You can multitask, can’t you?)2. SharEnumShareEnum is an obscure but very useful tool. ShareEnumshows you all file shares on your network. Even better, itshows you their associated security information. This verysmall (94K) tool might become one of the most valuableand useful security tools that you possess. It is anotherfree tool from Microsoft.10 Free Server Tools Your Organization NeedsBy Kenneth HessT3. NagiosNagios is an enterprise infrastructure monitoring suite.It’s free, mature and commercially supported. It hasgrown from a niche software project to a major force incontemporary network management. It’s used by suchhigh-profile companies as Citrix, ADP, Domino’s Pizza,Wells Fargo, Ericsson and the U.S. Army.4. WiresharkIf you run a network of anysize or topology, Wireshark isa must-have application. It isa network packet capture andanalysis program that assists youwith your ongoing quest for atrouble-free network. Wiresharkwon’t prevent network problems,but it does allow you to analyzethose problems in real time andpossibly avoid failure.5. ApacheThe Apache project isn’t just aweb server. The project, officiallyknown as the Apache SoftwareFoundation (ASF), consists ofalmost 100 different projectsunder the Apache umbrella. Yes, the famous and wildlypopular HTTP server, Apache, is the project’s namesakeand mainstay, but it isn’t the only nymph in the forest.6. IP PlanIP Plan is a little-known project that has potential in anysize environment. It’s not a DNS service, but it is a Web-based, IP tracking application. The reasoning behind atool like IP Plan is that DNS tracks systems that are in use.But to whom do you go when an IP address conflict, and
  8. 8. 7 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.Back to Contents40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficient9. (OO.o) is the free equivalent ofMicrosoft’s popular office suite. OO.o sports a wordprocessor, spreadsheet, presentation program, databaseand more. It is compatible with Microsoft Office and canuse or export in almost every imaginable file is not only easy on the wallet (free), butit’s also the darling of IBM, which has created its ownderivative: Lotus Smartsuite.10. WebminWebmin, for the uninitiated, is the ultimate lazy systemadministrator tool. It’s a Web-based interface toyour UNIX or Linux system that covers almost everyconfigurable aspect of the system and any add-onprogram you can ponder. You can’t rely on it for 100percent of your system administration tasks, but you canprobably use it for 99 percent of do you know which IP addresses are free to use? Youwon’t — unless you have a tool like IP Plan. It’s easy touse and free. What more could you want?7. EclipseEclipse is an Integrated Development Environment(IDE), which you can use to create applications withalmost any computer programming language. Eclipsehas wide language support, but it is historically viewedas a Java development tool. You can develop Windowsapplications in this very complete IDE as well asapplications for every current operating system.8. KVMKernel Virtual Machine (KVM), now owned and supportedby Red Hat, is a free, full virtualization solution. Fullvirtualization means hardware abstraction enables youto use almost any OS in a virtual machine. Each virtualmachine has its own display, network, disk and BIOS, andit functions like a physical system. You install an OS intoa virtual machine just as you would to a physical system.Yes, even Windows.
  9. 9. 8 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.Back to Contents40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficientother system flaws that manifest themselves as memoryissues. The key to solving memory performance problemsis to find the root cause of the symptom before addingmore RAM.3. StorageDisk speed, RAID type, storage type and controllertechnology all combine to produce what’s known asdisk I/O. Disk I/O is a commonsource of performance angstfor system administratorsand users alike. There arepractical and physical limits toperformance even when usingthe best contemporary disktechnology. Use best practiceswhen combining and separatingworkloads on disks. As attractiveas leveraged storage is, localdisks are still faster than thefastest SAN.4. NetworkThe network is a commonlyblamed source of performancebottlenecks, but it is rarelyfound to be so. Unless there is a network componenthardware failure, such as a damaged switch port, badcable, jabbering network card or router configurationproblem, you should look elsewhere for your “network”performance bottleneck. A perceived slowness on thenetwork usually points to one of the list’s other nineentries.5. ApplicationsAlthough no application developer wants to hear it,Uncover Your 10 Most Painful PerformanceBottlenecksBy Kenneth Hesscontinuedhen you hear the words, “performancebottleneck,” the typical hot spots that cometo mind are CPU, Memory, Disk and Network.Those are good places to start looking forbottlenecks but they aren’t the only places performanceproblems can hide. This list targets six other potentialleads for your investigation into the elusive performancebreakdown. Sometimes just knowing where to lookmight prevent your own personalbreakdown.Note that listed items are in noparticular order.1. CPUThe CPU is the brain of thecomputer where calculations andinstruction operations occur.CPUs can handle millions ofcalculations and instructions,but performance suffers whenthe numbers of these operationsexceeds capacity. CPUs thatsustain greater than 75-percent-busy numbers will slow the entiresystem. CPUs need some roomfor activity “bursts” where loads can reach 100 percentfor short periods of time. CPU load is a common sourceof performance bottlenecks.2. MemoryThe rule of thumb on memory is “add more.” Whenperformance problems point to memory, the generalconsensus to solve the problem, is to add more. Thispractice is effective only in the short term, however.Performance bottlenecks that point to memory are oftenthe result of poorly designed software (memory leaks) orW
  10. 10. 9 40 Ways to Make Your Data Center More Efficient an Server eBook. © 2011,, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.Back to Contents40 Ways to Make YourData Center More Efficientpoorly coded applications masquerade themselves ashardware problems. The fickle finger of guilt points toapplications when an otherwise quiescent system suffersgreatly when the application is on and shows no signsof difficulty when the application is off. It’s an ongoingbattle between system administrators and developerswhen performance issue occur. Each wants to allege theother’s guilt. A word to the wise after many hundreds ofhours of chasing hardware performance bottlenecks: It’sthe application.6. MalwareViruses, Trojan horses and spyware account for a largepercentage of perceived performance bottlenecks. Usersnotoriously complain about the network, the applicationor their computer when nasties raise their ugly heads.Those performance killers can reside on one or moreserver systems, the user’s workstation, or a combinationof the two. Malware infections are so common that youmust employ multiple defenses against them. Antivirus,antispyware, local firewalls, network firewalls and aregular patching regimen will help protect systems andprevent resultant bottlenecks.7. WorkloadSmart workload management can help preventperformance problems associated with poorly balancedworkloads or ill-conceived load balancing schemes.Adding another system to a suffering cluster relieves thepressure, but this is easier to do in a virtual environmentthan in a physical one. The best advice here is to measurecapacity and performance of all systems and heed thenumbers reported to you. Move workloads, add systemsand keep a watchful eye on performance.8. Failing or Outdated HardwareThe older the hardware, the more likely it is to fail.Some hardware components fail with a single finalbreath, while others linger on with random complaintsand untraceable glitches. Hardware that causes systemreboots, disappearance of data or performancebottlenecks frustrate system administrators because ofits unpredictable nature. The best way to prevent suchtragedies is to keep hardware fresh, use redundanthardware and monitor your systems carefully.9. FilesystemDid you know that your filesystem choice can havea profound impact on performance? It can. Somefilesystems, JFS for example, uses very little CPU. XFShas very high scalability and high performance. NTFS is arecoverable file system with high performance. The newEXT4 filesystem supports very large files efficiently. Eachfilesystem has a purpose, and using the incorrect one foran application can have disastrous results. Consider yourfilesystem choices wisely and select the best one for thejob. There is no one size fits all filesystem.10. TechnologyThe technology you select for your infrastructure playsan important role in performance. For example, ifyou dedicate your services to a virtual infrastructuretechnology, you might have performance problemsnot experienced on equivalent physical systems.Alternatively, there are some workloads that thriveon virtual technology. LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL,PHP) workloads, for example, perform at and greaterthan native speeds on KVM. However, container-typevirtualization (OpenVZ, Parallels, Solaris Zones) boastsnative performance ratings for any workload.