Data centers are anything but static, and with advances in technology and changes to data center infrastructure, new challenges arise and old ones evolve. Today, IT managers face many of the same management issues they have always faced regarding cooling, power, data storage and load balancing, but there are a host of new management issues such as virtualization and real-time monitoring.Spending on data center management tools continues to rise. According to MarketsandMarkets, the market for Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) should reach $3.14 billion worldwide by 2017, and sales of new DCIM tools are being driven by demand for greener data centers and greater availability. At the same time, virtualization, cloud computing and related strategies are creating new challenges such as load balancing, centralizing administration and capacity planning. Every data center administration team has to juggle priorities for multiple management issues. Here are seven concerns that are probably top of mind with your customers:
- Data security
Security is an ongoing challenge for any data center. A data breach can cost millions of dollars in lost intellectual property, exposure of confidential data and stolen personally identifiable information. The data breach at Target, for example, eventually cost the company $162 million. Risk management and securing both stored data and data as it is transmitted across the network are primary concerns for every data center administrator. In fact, 32 percent of CIOs surveyed by the Society of Information Management listed security as their top priority for 2016.
- Balancing cost controls with efficiency
Budgeting and cost containment are ongoing concerns for any department, but the data center has its own unique cost-control concerns. CIOs want to ensure that their data centers are efficient, innovative and nimble, but they also have to be careful about controlling costs. For example, greening the data center is an ongoing goal, and promoting energy efficiency reduces operating costs at the same time that it promotes environmental responsibility, so IT managers monitor power usage effectiveness. Other strategies such as virtualization are increasing operating efficiency while containing costs.
- Power management
In addition to power conservation, power management is creating a greater challenge. Server consolidation and virtualization reduce the amount of hardware in the data center, but they don’t necessarily reduce power consumption. Blade servers consume four to five times the energy of previous types of data storage, even though they are usually more efficient overall. As equipment needs change, there is more concern about power and cooling demands.
- Capacity planning
Maintaining optimal efficiency means keeping the data center running at peak capacity, but IT managers usually leave room for error—a capacity safety gap—in order to make sure that operations aren’t interrupted. Over-provisioning is inefficient and wastes storage space, computer processing and power. Data center managers are increasingly concerned about running out of capacity, which is why more data centers are using DCIM systems to identify unused computing, storage and cooling capacity. DCIM helps manage the data center to run at full capacity while minimizing risk.
- Real-time reporting
Real-time data analytics and reporting are becoming increasingly important. Not only are DCIM tools being used to monitor physical data center operations, but big data analytics also makes it possible to use real-time monitoring to spot anomalies or issues that could mean a security breach or some other problem. Real-time monitoring combined with analytics brings us one step closer to self-healing data centers capable of initiating a response, such as isolating a server or rerouting data traffic to a programmed alert.
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
The ability to monitor sensors in almost any device over the Internet is creating a host of new concerns for the data center. Gartner characterizes the IoT as a disruptive force that will transform the data center, mostly because of the sheer volume of data that the IoT will generate. That IoT data will have to be processed, prioritized, stored and analyzed, but because there is so much of it, new data center strategies such as edge computing will have to be employed to control the volume of data.
- Mobile enterprise
Like security, mobile computing and “bring your own device” strategies continue to plague data center operators. Handheld devices give employees immediate access to business-critical data, but those devices have to be monitored and secured. Whether employees choose to use their own devices or the company issues smartphones and tablets, data access has to be managed and restricted to prevent loss of sensitive information. New safeguards are required to remotely wipe mobile-device memory or track and lock a lost or stolen device. At the same time, new concerns over user privacy continue to arise—for example, what are the long-term implications of law enforcement being able to access the data stored in any device seized as part of an investigation? Mobile enterprise computing presents technical, logistical and legal challenges that ultimately have to be addressed from the data center.
These are just a few of the data center management issues that all organizations face and where solution providers can step in with counsel and solutions to help those organizations address these issues. As the data center tools and technology continue to evolve, solution providers are in a better position than anyone to offer customers unbiased advice and hands-on assistance.