What is Data Center Management?
Data centers are very complex and contain many moving parts that have to work in unison together to support the business and its customers. There are many different technical and non-technical disciplines needed for the data center to perform at its best. Data center management software is only a small portion of what is required to manage a data center.
Today, third parties provide data center managed services to help organizations with end-to-end management of all the disciplines needed for successful outcomes. Today, many new organizations rely on third parties for most of the management of the data center to focus on their core competencies and be more customer-centric with their businesses. This perspective has led to the rise of cloud-based data center solutions globally. In the past, it may have taken many months to start a company and establish a data center, but today it can be done in days or weeks.
Data Center Management includes the following elements;
- The management of applications for service or product delivery.
- The information technology infrastructure to support applications.
- Technology platforms to enable service capabilities.
- Specialized people that support the applications, infrastructure, and platforms.
- The practices that are used either manually or in an automated fashion to support business and customer outcomes.
Data Center Service and Application Management are the primary focus of many data centers with their resources which also include people. The reason for this is simply because of the emergence of cloud data centers that offer data center managed services. Many organizations today do not want to focus and work entirely on the underlying IT components. Still, they want the outcomes that these components give to the applications and services that they deliver to their customers. An example of this is the use of Cisco Data Center Network Manager, which provides organizations with a management console for managing network visibility and controls.
Data center infrastructure management, especially in the cloud, is done by cloud service providers. The customer of these services focuses more on the infrastructure’s outcome with the provided data center infrastructure managed solutions for monitoring capabilities that allow them to manage elasticity of the infrastructure components as needed to support the business. This allows less focus on IT but more focus on the service that IT provides.
Data center platform management in the cloud is basically the same as infrastructure management in the cloud. Customers pick and choose platforms from an outcome perspective with the consideration of capability add-ons and overall price. Overall, the management of the services and applications is usually kept in-house. The infrastructure and platform choice in the cloud becomes more of a commodity to support the applications and services needed to support the end customer.
Data Center Management Problems
One of the most significant data center management issues is data center management problems related to the security of everything in the data center. The services, application infrastructure, and platforms have to be secured. Each one of the components is subject to attack internally and externally from various sources. The data itself within the data center is subject to theft, denial of service attacks, loss, alterations, and other misuses. The data is present in applications, the infrastructure, and the platform depending on the lifecycle and stage of the data usage. For data center security, all components must be secure.
Data center security issues are constantly evolving because of criminal intent. Criminals get more innovative, and organizations have to keep up with the latest threats as quickly as possible. Malicious threats are high; some believe that all organizations will be or can be hacked, and it is just a matter of time that it happens. We hear news stories regularly, and there are, of course, the stories we never hear related to data center management security problems.
Besides security issues relating to Data Center Management, there are many other problems that can occur. Many IT assets have to be managed and maintained. Any one of these assets, such as a server or network switch, could cause problems for the organization and its customers. On occasion, assets have met their end of life and are not supported by the respective vendor, so organizations have to refresh their IT assets in a timely manner. If they don’t, support for service restoration could be in danger when the asset fails. Not understanding relationships between assets can hamper the ability to perform impact analysis when a component of the IT infrastructure is impacted intentionally or unintentionally. There is no perfect data center, so Data Center Management problems have to be addressed with proper risk, business impact, and continuity planning strategies and tactics.
Data Center Management Challenges
There are many data center management challenges related to each discipline needed in the data center. Besides the technical difficulties, there are challenges to ensuring the data center is supporting the business outcomes. Many organizations sometimes get caught up with managing the data center and forget about why, from the business perspective that the data center is needed. This results in many projects that don’t support business outcomes, including people doing unnecessary work or the work related to helping with the efficiency and effectiveness of the business and its customers.
One of the challenges that the data center has is always making sure the total cost of ownership supports the return on investment appropriately; otherwise, the business may be out of business. Financial challenges are significant; organizations have to always focus on reducing expenses and business growth.
Besides the financial challenges, challenges such as the overall management of the applications, infrastructure, and platforms exist. This includes issues such as managing data, storage, security, availability, continuity, productivity, overall performance, and other issues.
Data Center Management Best Practices
Within a data center, there are many data center best practices. Each service, application, platform, infrastructure, specialized practices, and processes have best practices. Each best practice helps with overall governance, risk, and compliance for the organization’s goals and objectives. Listed below are some of the common data center management best practices areas:
- Data center capacity management best practices
- Data center availability management best practices
- Data center security management best practices
- Data center continuity management best practices
- Data center change management best practices
- Data center service support best practices
- Data center service delivery best practices
- Data center application development best practices
- Data center operations management best practices
Each of the listed best practice areas has to work together to support a value chain of activities to support or deliver services and products. There are many other disciplines and best practices used by different functions in the organization to enable a consistent and manageable approach to the activities they do for the Data center.
Many organizations follow some of the same best practices, and many organizations create new best practices for their organization which may have a basis of existing practices and procedures. Data center management policy and procedure help drive the adoption of best practices in the organization. The organization should never forget that their best practices can be a competitive differentiator in the markets that they serve. As such, they should be careful of following practices without facilitating continual improvement of the practice to support their overall strategy.
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Data Center Infrastructure Management Solutions
Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is the management of tools and systems to monitor, measure, and control infrastructure components such as services, computers, networks, and storage devices in the data center. There are many data center infrastructure management tools and data center information management solutions available in the market to manage the vast technology infrastructure components.
The overall data center information system is what organizations should aspire to build. This means that the organization should look at all the components or assets of the data center in a collaborative and coordinated way. This helps remove a siloed approach and mentality for the overall management of all the application, infrastructure, and platform components. Many data centers manage each IT discipline separately, such as networks, servers, and other assets in the data center resulting in challenges with the root cause and impact analysis for the services that they deliver.
Data Center Management tools
There are many data center management tools available on the market. Each tool basically helps with the administration of the various components of the data center. Tools are usually considered the same as data center management software to improve data center automation, health, performance, and reliability. The software helps with efficient, effective, and economic management of the data center, usually resulting in utilizing fewer people to manage an ever-growing IT infrastructure on-premise, in the cloud, public, private and hybrid solutions.
Each component in the data center is considered an asset of the organization. Each asset can be further categorized into an IT capability or resources for the organization. This categorization helps understand which assets are strategic assets for managing as such compared to other assets. Each one of these assets has to be managed, especially relative to utilization needs. Many organizations find out that they are utilizing less than 40 percent of their overall capacity. In this case, the data center is underutilizing total capacity resulting in costs that are not needed. When organizations realize this is the case in their data center on-premise environments, they may choose to switch to cloud solutions to help control cost and manage overall capacity in a more elastic fashion.
Data Center Management services
Data Center Management services should help an organization with the current and future state of the data center. The organization should do real-time and historical data center state analysis supported by critical success factors and key performance indicators across all the data center assets. This will help with the overall health of the data center for the delivery of needed services and products to support customers.
Many cloud providers offer a host of services for managing the organizational data centers off-prem, hybrid, public and private clouds in a cloud data center. Many organizations are looking for these services because they don’t want to hire specialized staff to perform the particular disciplines required to manage a cloud data center. Take, for example, Cloudflare Data Centers, and they offer data center services to support organizations in more than 100 countries.
Data Center Management certification
There are data center management training and certifications for people and certifications for the data center itself. Here is a list of some of the data center management certifications available:
- Certified Data Center Management Professional (CDCMP ®)
- Data Center Operations Manager (DCOM ®)
- VMWARE Certified Professional
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA ®)
- Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL ®)
- Data Center Virtualization
- Data Center Design Consultant (DCDC)
- Certified Data Center Programs (CDCP ®)
- Certified Data Center Facilities Operations Manager (CDFOM®)
Many certificates are related to the specific data center technology created by the vendor of the technology. Deciding which one is right for a particular person depends on what role they have in the organization for managing the data center. There may be just a need for general knowledge or foundation-level knowledge. Foundation-level knowledge helps the person participate in meetings, discussions, and decisions. There also may be a need for design, engineering, specific infrastructure, or process knowledge to support the capabilities of the particular role in the organization.
There are also data center certifications. One very popular certification, especially for cloud data center vendors, is FedRAMP. FedRamp, which stands for “Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program,” is a certification that states that the cloud vendor that receives it has passed a standardized security assessment which helps assure data, especially federal data, is consistently protected at a very high level in the cloud.
Data centers are not going away, just transforming. Cloud data centers are an example of the transformation of data centers. Many data center manager jobs are available for cloud data center companies and declining for other companies as they start to utilize cloud data center services and focus on their business instead of IT as a practice. If you Google data center manager salaries, you will notice that the wages ranges vary, but the wages are very decent for this position.
Data Center Management will continue to transform the way business is done using information technology. Especially Cloud Data Center Management because everything has the capability of being a service. Many news organizations have no on-premise data centers and use cloud data center capabilities and services to support their start-up businesses quickly and effectively. The discipline of data center management will continue to grow as organizations rely on cloud data centers, including hybrid methodologies for managing the data centers that they utilize.
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