Looking under the hood

Chris James –

Buying a car is a major purchase for most people and it’s easy to get carried away with the sleek lines, alloy wheels and other superficial aspects of the vehicles in the show room. However any good engineer will tell us that it’s what’s under the hood that ensures performance, safety and a great driving experience. It’s not just the engine, but the suspension, clutch, gears—in fact the entire underlying infrastructure. These components might not be as exciting as the soft top, but they are essential and a car can’t function without them. It’s the same for IT: while networking and migrations might not be considered as exciting as applications, they nevertheless are fundamental for strong performance, and managing them well can make all the difference to the business.

We’re finding that, around the world, enterprises handling business-critical applications are beginning to grasp how important it is to look under the hood and to have clear visibility and control over the entire data centre IT infrastructure. In the last decade much change has happened with virtualisation and the look and feel of end user IT. As a result, IT managers are now looking under the hood to identify areas for potential optimisation in terms of performance and reliability—such as storage, archiving and disaster recovery to name just a few.

The necessity of looking at the whole IT infrastructure is due to a combination of new pressures brought about by growing volumes of unstructured data and ever evolving, complex IT environments that are continuously impacted by virtualisation, cloud computing, BYOD (bring your own device) , rich media and video streaming. The traditional ways of coping with an increase in the need for performance is no longer acceptable, and costly over-provisioning is no longer an option to address performance spikes or degradation. Managers want to stop wasting budget and resources and demand to know what’s happening across the entire data centre, and take advantage of all the benefits of Infrastructure Performance Management (IPM).

The tools for understanding what’s under the IT systems hood are already available from most vendors—but only to a limited extent. The problem is that these vendor-specific tools are biased; only giving visibility into that particular vendor’s products. This limits the level of monitoring and trouble shooting, and does not enable an accurate, unbiased, system-wide view across the infrastructure as a whole.

Our VirtualWisdom platform can be easily installed on the back of Traffic Access Points or TAPs; it is compatible with all vendor hardware and has won several awards for its non-disruptive, real-time monitoring and analysis capabilities. Most data centres have built-in redundancy to cope with spikes in demand for capacity. By using VirtualWisdom, IT managers can see precisely where latency and performance degradation occurs, and they can proactively identify and address any traffic issues before they become major issues. With VirtualWisdom this granular and comprehensive insight into the IT infrastructure is achieved without impacting application performance or end user experience—and it doesn’t add any ‘load’ on to the system the way polling does. Once implemented VirtualWisdom reads the Fibre Channel protocol in real time, end-to-end regardless of vendor equipment.

By having in-depth levels of insight datacentre managers can truly plan, and manage their IT environments, and ensure they remain perpetually agile. It’s just like when mechanics plug cars into computerised diagnostics machines to assess issues; not only are faults detected but so are emergent weaknesses and indicators of future problems. In a similar manner, with VirtualWisdom, IT infrastructure managers can see how applications are performing, spot any existing and upcoming bottlenecks, review the level of utilisation of each component and understand whether these can be optimised to reduce cost. Once armed with this information it is possible to eliminate downtime and latency, set application-aligned SLAs, and set in motion new initiatives such as tiering to ensure that each component (server, switch, fabric, storage) is perpetually optimised—and therefore running as cost effectively as possible.

So next time you are going to buy a car don’t forget to look at what’s underneath the hood and when you’re planning IT upgrades or migrations of critical applications, look at what IPM can do for you so that you know what’s really happening in your data centre and across your IT infrastructure.

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