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DCM: Left Brain vs. Right Brain Data Centers

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For the IT systems Chivers uses Evolven IT Operations Analytics, which applies analytics to configuration management. He purchased the software to assist with the company’s 2012 move from the building it called home for 48 years.

“What would have normally taken hours to figure out, with Evolven we just ran a report and found what was different,” says Chivers. The software is used on an ongoing basis
for compliance. What used to require a full time engineer to document is now done with an automated quarterly report.

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DCM: Left Brain vs. Right Brain Data Centers

  1. 1. 2 www.afcom.com features Open DCIM: 42 How Open Source Software Can Save Your Sanity and Money Software-Defined 14 Networking: Decoupling Hype from Reality A Holistic Approach 32 to IT and Data Center Ecosystems Innovation Drives Data 36 Center Manager of the Year: Jason Pfaff m a n a g e m e n t ENOUGH IS ENOUGH IS ENOUGH IS ENOUGH... Planning for your business’ IT growth without a clear picture of your capacity is a lot like giving someone directions without knowing where they are. You get trapped in an unending maze of trying to move forward, never sure of your starting point. The experts at Emerson Network Power can show you how to gauge the existing capacity of your critical infrastructure and understand the real impact that your decisions can have on this highly dynamic, interconnected space. How can you plan for growth if you don’t know where your capacity stands today? The Emerson logo is a trademark and a service mark of Emerson Electric Co. ©2014 Emerson Electric Co. Go to CIO.EmersonNetworkPower.com/PlanningforGrowth to download our playbook for growth. Left Brain vs. Right Brain Data Centers 22 Data centers have two completely separate“brains”: one for monitoring and managing the power and cooling and the other for the IT hardware, applications and services. But there could well be value in joining them together in order to improve the analytics. Software-Defined 14 Networking: Decoupling Hype from Reality The value of SDN will shift depending on your specific situation and problems, but in general software-defined anything allows you to virtualize, centralize, control, and manage specific types of IT resources through software. A Holistic Approach to IT 32 and Data Center Ecosystems The Internet of Everything is forcing the development of data centers that can withstand the day-to-day rigors of operations and be flexible enough to adapt to new applications and a wider operating environment. Innovation Drives Data 36 Center Manager of the Year: Jason Pfaff An electrician by trade, this year’s award winner sees the Internet of Everything transforming data centers into product-driven environments. Open DCIM: 42 How Open Source Software Can Save Your Sanity and Money The goal of its developers is to make it unnecessary for anyone to have to track data center assets using a spread- sheet or word processor.
  2. 2. Data centers have two completely separate “brains”: one for monitoring and managing the power and cooling and the other for the IT hardware, applications and services. But there could well be value in joining them together in order to improve the analytics. by Drew Robb Left Brain vs. Right Brain Data Centers July/August 2014 Data Center Management 2322 www.afcom.com
  3. 3. 24 www.afcom.com One flavor of pop psychology asserts that people are either left-brained or right-brained. This concept arose out of the work of Roger W. Sperry who sev- ered the nerves joining the two sides of people’s brains. Despite serious functional problem among his experimental subjects, Sperry achieved a lifetime achievement award from the American Psychological Association. Later research demonstrated that either side of the brain can perform the same analyti- cal functions and that those skilled in math used both sides. Although professionally the concept has gone the way of the lobot- omy and libido theory, the left brain/right brain myth lives on in popular culture. Data centers typically have two completely separate “brains”: one for monitoring and managing the power and cooling, and the other for the IT hardware, applications and services. Now the idea is to join those two hemispheres in order to improve the ana- lytics. New technology providing highly granular floor monitoring and analytics can help data center managers fine-tune operations, pre- vent hotspots, and respond instantly before Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) or thermal boundaries are exceeded. Some of these can marry up with IT monitoring tools to ease analysis of what equipment or work- loads are causing the spikes. While these tools eventually will have the ability to take automated actions to correct environmen- tal anomalies, data center managers appear reluctant to relinquish control. “I’m not sure I’m willing to have a sys- tem control my SLAs just yet,”says Bruno Berti, director of product management at RagingWire Enterprise Solutions, Inc., which is 80 percent owned by NTT Communications Corp. Analytics Options Data center operators have three broad options in setting up analytics on their systems: using the analytics functions now being built into Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software, importing their operational data into an analytics package or building an in-house product. Custom analytic tools might just mean an Excel spreadsheet but can get far more sophisticated such as the platform Digital Realty Trust is developing for its more than 100 data centers around the world. In most cases, however, data center managers will acquire an off-the-shelf product and cus- tomize it as needed. “Data center managers already have a lot of tools and information depositories in place,” says Rhonda Ascierto, research manager of data center technologies and eco-efficient IT for 451 Research, “but there is really no neat way to combine all that different data and all the different tools that they have.” This has led to the increasing use of DCIM, but the market penetration is still low. Ascierto estimates that no more than 15 percent of mid- to large size data centers (3MW and above) have deployed DCIM and a lot of deployments are in a single data center, not across the whole portfolio. While at one time DCIM tools did not live up to their hype, the problem these days is not with the technology but the processes needed to manage the data center. “The technology is doing what it promises to do, but it will require process change around the integration between the opera- tional facilities staff and the IT department,” says Ascierto. “Those departments have different skill sets, staff, budgets, languages, platforms and analytic tools.” She says the two core components of DCIM are monitoring of power and environmen- tal systems, and change and configuration management. Those two areas then lead to the broad segmentation in the market, between DCIMs that arise from vendors such as Emerson Electric and ABB on the power side, and those coming from the IT side. In addition, there are startups address- ing at least some of the functionality (Figure 1, 451 DCIM Suppliers Map). “Data centers can gain visibility: if I do a server refresh with this model of server, what will it do to my operating environ- ment, what will it to do my cooling require- ments, how will the temperature, humidity and air flow change,”says Ascierto. “From there you can do a business analysis to determine what are the power savings, and the impact on availability, risk profile and redundancy.” Combining Disparate Systems But getting to that point is a long-term, multi-stage process, not just a matter of getting the right software. “We are experiencing a lot of growth, which is one of the key drivers for us putting in the DCIM system,”says Berti. RagingWire, for example, operates data centers in Sacramento, California and in Ashburn, Virginia, about ten miles outside the Washington, DC beltway. The two build- ings in the Sacramento campus have about 500,000 square feet, 80MW of generation and 37MW of IT capacity. A third building with 80,000 square feet of white space is coming on line later this year. Although the new building is a mile away from the other two, all three are connected by fiber rings and appear to customers as a single campus. The 150,000 square foot Ashburn building has 28MW of genera- tion and 14MW IT load. The company is also breaking ground on a 78 acre parcel in Ashburn and where it is permitted for another million square feet. Last year, Berti moved to RagingWire from SunGard Recovery Services and took over the project of setting up the company’s DCIM. He ran the RFP process and selected CA Technologies’DCIM, which supported a secure, multi-tenancy model. Out of the box, he said, it had a mobile client that operations staff can use when out on the data center floor. While at one time DCIM tools did not live up to their hype,theproblemthesedaysisnotwiththetechnology but the processes needed to manage the data center.
  4. 4. 26 www.afcom.com a 3D model, collecting power information on all the branch circuits and the alarming information from PDUs, UPSes, switch- boards, generators and AHUs. “CA has a standard set of reports that we were able to use, including trending reports and dial-based dashboards to see power consumption, voltage and power factor,” says Berti. RagingWire is now rolling out the same functionality to all buildings and adding temperature and humidity monitoring to manage hot spots. That will be followed by the integration of physical security includ- ing cameras, badging and other systems. At this point, RagingWire is only using the DCIM to analyze the infrastructure, but may expand it to the racks. “Before we were managing alert screens, now we actually have graphical floor plans, can look at all devices, click on the device and see exactly the information collected in the last poll as well as trend in the last hour, 24 hours, last week, month, year. We never had that before,”says Berti. Focusing on the IT Side While RagingWire and Digital Realty Trust use analytics on their infrastructure, Dave Chivers feels that area is under control. “We have APC by Schneider Electric racks and cooling system and they have a pack- age that monitors the entire environment,” says Chivers, VP and CIO of VSE Corporation (Alexandria, Virginia) which provides engi- neering, development, testing, and man- agement services to federal customers. “There is no predictive data, just real-time, but I will notice if my power consumption goes up and can see when there are peaks on the network and can tell when other processors kick in heavily.” For the IT systems Chivers uses Evolven IT Operations Analytics, which applies ana- lytics to configuration management. He purchased the software to assist with the company’s 2012 move from the building it called home for 48 years to a new LEED Gold building. The company has to comply with a number of regulations, so when it came time to move its 360 mostly-virtual- ized servers onto new equipment at the new location, it had to be able to validate that each server, physical and virtual, was identical to the one it replaced. EMC and VMware had products to do the failover from the old site to the new one, but even so there were some errors. For example, when one server came over, the older ver- sion of a Dynamic Link Library (DLL) was copied over the newer version when it failed over and the server wouldn’t run. “What would have normally taken hours to figure out, with Evolven we just ran a report and found what was different,”says Chivers. The software is used on an ongoing basis for compliance. What used to require a full time engineer to document is now done with an automated quarterly report. Chivers says that if he pushes a patch out, the software will analyze whether the systems that need the patch get it and if not it will alarm. Or it will notify Chivers if a processor is operating at 90 percent capacity 60 percent of the time. It will then monitor that process for the next month or two and if the issue persists, advise that a faster processor is needed. Comparative Analytics For Digital Realty Trust (DRT) an off the shelf product wasn’t an option. The company owns and operates about 135 data centers worldwide: some are custom designed for a single customer, others use the company’s 1.2 MW Turn Key Flex (TKF) pods and still others are existing facilities of various types of configurations that DRT manages. Last year, it hired David Schirmacher as senior vice president of Portfolio Operations where he oversees building and deployment of its DCIM. The package developed for DRT is called EnVision. DRT started rolling it out in the summer of 2013 and by this spring was deploying it at four or five locations month- ly. A single TKF can return 29,000 data points per minute, and there might be 20 TKFs in a single data center. By the end of the year, they expect to have Envision deployed at all U. S. locations and to have started on overseas data centers. Schirmacher says that while existing DCIM systems are good at gathering information and presenting it in terms of absolute val- ues they don’t give what he terms “compar- ative analytics.” “Returning lots of absolute values doesn’t give the true realization of the power of DCIM,”he says. “It is more important to see the performance of that device relative to the hundreds or thousands of other devices that are doing the same job.” For most data center managers, that isn’t an issue as they only manage one or a few locations. But given the scope of DRT’s port- folio, they have enough data to do internal benchmarking between locations and see where they can make improvements. This is used by DRT’s managers and is also provid- ed to customers. “If you were my customer, what if I could say, of our other 100+ locations, the value is consistent or better than the average of those 99 other locations,”says Schirmacher. “Not only the absolute value, but confi- dence that the value is consistent with good performance.” Data center managers can monitor real time information, but also use the comparative data to see which data centers are achiev- ing the best results so that those practices can be adopted elsewhere. Schirmacher says that, while Envision is capable of ana- lyzing workloads, the software is not set up to do so. DRT provides the data center space and infrastructure, but customers generally own and operate their own IT gear. But the customers do have their own interface into the system to view any data related to their own equipment. EnVision is designed to be used by a wide variety of users. As a result, it only provides information, not the ability to control any of the monitored systems. Sales engineers can use it for selecting the best place for new equipment. Finance can use it for billing customers for power. Customers can view their power con- sumption and infrastructure status. Data center man- agers can use it for predict- ing future problems. “Rather than waiting for something to over- load, which might drive the temperature up or might drive electrical capacity to its brink,”says Schirmacher, “we can spot the trends where there is a growth trajectory well before that problem occurs.” Drew Robb is a freelance writer based in Florida. “It is more important to see the performance of that device relative to the hundreds or thousands of other devices that are doing the same job.” -David Schirmacher, Senior Vice President of PortfolioOperations Digital Realty Trust RagingWire had put branch circuit monitor- ing on every customer circuit. But there was no single point where all information was collected. If a device alarmed, admins would have to log into that system to investigate. “Having data in disparate systems does not give you the ability to make decisions”says Berti. “With that data in one place we can use analytics such as measuring our PUE across campuses.” Using DCIM, the company is presenting customers with dashboards to view data on their own equipment such as power usage. To date, Berti has purchased and installing the hardware and software; created tem- plates for sensors and back office systems, normalized the data put it in a graphical format. This included putting all the floor maps, including customer enclosures, into Baseline Comparison shows a comparison of a production server to 2 test servers. The time filter is set to“any time” in order to include historical differences. Check Consistency shows the changes made to a system and were checked against the testing environment. Note that one DLL file was not updated. July/August 2014 Data Center Management 27

For the IT systems Chivers uses Evolven IT Operations Analytics, which applies analytics to configuration management. He purchased the software to assist with the company’s 2012 move from the building it called home for 48 years. “What would have normally taken hours to figure out, with Evolven we just ran a report and found what was different,” says Chivers. The software is used on an ongoing basis for compliance. What used to require a full time engineer to document is now done with an automated quarterly report.

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