Infrastructure Management is so 1990s. Everyone has it. Could there be anything interesting left to say? Yes -- that it is more critical than ever. It may still be just the plumbing but the demands on it are only growing and yesterday’s point solutions won't do the job.
In a June 2011 article in CIOInsight, interestingly titled, “IT Investment Trends: Infrastructure Back in the Mix” they note, “CIO Insight’s latest IT Investment Trends study shows renewed interest in the fundamentals of the IT infrastructure. This is refreshing amid today’s ethereal talk about clouds and virtual machines.”
It is, in fact, those ethereal technologies that are driving Infrastructure Management solutions to grow up and meet the demands placed on them by combining integration, automation and intelligent analytics. These new, unified infrastructure management solutions can step up to the requirements for agility and the ability to handle the complexity that new technologies and higher expectations inflict on all organizations - enterprises, government agencies and service providers alike.
Here are four reasons why - in 2012 - you should still care:
Too big to fail infrastructures are the backbone of an organization’s bottom line. While the “infrastructure” was once a code word for “the network” and the applications running over it only impacted employees, infrastructures are now a growing conglomeration of the network, systems, databases and applications that affect customers and employees alike, with direct impact on your bottom line.
Managing the infrastructure as a whole is imperative. Attempting to manage with a mix of point products becomes part of the problem rather than the solution. Effort by IT staff or service network operators to manually correlate events from silo-focused management products and track impact to individuals and services is a practice that simply doesn’t scale. Integrated and unified infrastructure management solutions automatically correlate events between silos, identify root cause and track impact to individuals and business services, letting IT staff and service network operators practice rapid remediation. Performance and trend analysis even lets them get ahead of developing issues to avoid some problems altogether.
Voice and video are rapidly gaining acceptance into the infrastructure “club.” Once outside the data network, they now sit well within an organization’s infrastructure, even while requiring essentially different service qualities than standard IP data traffic. Isn’t that why we have Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities? However, manually creating QoS service classes and hoping they have the desired effect is risky without a clear view into traffic flows and performance. With good visibility, QoS classes can be fine tuned to support both business critical applications and the delay-sensitive voice and video services.
Virtualization is the perfect technology to take an infrastructure running close to the edge from bad to worse. If your IT staff is struggling to manually track systems capacity and utilization, adding virtualization will create the tipping point. With automated tools for infrastructure management they can keep up with the volume of workload and application movement while holding down capital costs, data center expansion and staff stress.
Private clouds bring many technologies together (server, network and storage virtualization, high availability, automation and self-service) to optimize an organization’s assets and provide a highly responsive infrastructure service environment, much like a data center on steroids. The private cloud is expected to scale to absorb utilization peaks and protect against outages and degradation, thereby making it a prime consumer of unified infrastructure management. Without the ability to manage the scope and complexity of the private cloud, it can become a single point of multiple, potential failures.
With these technologies resetting the bar for organizational competence and competitiveness, it is a good time to review your infrastructure management solution. Is it unified, managing performance and available for physical and virtual systems, the network, applications and databases and giving you a single view? Can it provide visibility into traffic flows so voice and video can safely co-exist in your infrastructure? Can it scale as your organization grows? Time to reconsider.
Pam Snaith joined CA Technologies in 2005 as part of the Concord Communications acquisition. In her role in Product Marketing she is focused on solutions that drive business Service Assurance. Snaith has broad experience in the networking industry, from software engineering to product management and marketing for voice and data products at institutions and companies including the Federal Reserve Bank, Digital Equipment Corporation, Xyplex Networks, Lucent Technologies and Avaya. She has published magazine articles and numerous white papers. Snaith earned a B.A. from New York University and completed additional coursework at Cornell Medical College.