The rapid increase in size and complexity of data centres, combined with limited resources has made data center management a difficult challenge. Complete real-time monitoring of all network physical components and their connections, otherwise known as Intelligent Infrastructure Management (IIM), can provide relief by enabling data centre managers to maintain control with increased productivity and service availability.

Although IIM has been around for several years, here are 5 reasons why intelligent infrastructure management is critical for data centres today:

1. Complex Network Topology

The growth of strategic IT trends such as mobile computing, server virtualisation and the public cloud is making the data centre environment more dynamic. At the same time, the higher density of equipment and connections in data centres is making it more difficult to keep an accurate record of network topologies and connections. Automated end to end real time documentation of all components and their connections including fiber channel circuits, storage area network (SAN) switch boards, and remote access connections enables better management of complex networks.

2. Excessive Labour Costs

In many data centres, inventory and management of physical infrastructure is done manually with “on-board tools” such as Excel spreadsheets and Visio graphics. Precious time is wasted trying to document highly dynamic network topologies, while making diagnosing and resolving network problems more complicated and time consuming. In addition, without automated solutions, adding or moving components is more labour intensive and prone to human error. In an IIM system, the entire infrastructure is represented in a consistent database, which provides accurate and real-time information eliminating time consuming manual work and simplifying problem resolution. Also, IIM systems provide automated work order management, with guiding mechanisms and mobile applications that enable technicians to complete and update work orders more efficiently.

3. Inefficient Utilisation Of Network Resources

Without a real time inventory of network components there can be multiple assignments to the same ports, or alternatively organisations can continue to pay for equipment and connections that have not been properly deactivated. With an intelligent management system, processes can be established to ensure that when servers or switches are decommissioned, all intermediate connections and switch ports are freed up and available for future use. IIM allows businesses to achieve increased cost efficiency spanning the data centre’s entire life cycle from planning design, procurement, installation, daily management of moves, adds and changes (MACS) to the eventual upgrade.

4. Costly Downtime

The average cost of downtime according to the Ponemon Institute is around $5,600 per minute or $336,000 per hour, with the number-one cause for downtime still being the “human element.” IIM monitors network components, alerting early on to trouble spots and Internet congestion which if left unhandled can cause downtime or decrease output. The result is a better-managed network with greater output, stability and robustness.

5. Compromised Security

Networks are vulnerable on multiple levels—from malware attacks to manipulation or theft of operational data to unauthorised network access. As more industrial operations become linked to corporate networks, and connectivity is pushed out to devices, the number of entrance points onto the network increases. Where security vulnerabilities may occur, organisations must develop safeguards within the infrastructure to reduce the opportunity for intrusion. IIM adds an extra layer of security to mission critical communications networks by guarding the network from unauthorised connects, disconnects, moves and changes.

According to Gartner using IIMs in the data center enables enterprises to cut operational costs by 20-30%, decrease downtime, optimise power and space utilisation, accelerate service deployment and enhance security. This is why IIM is becoming a standard – both in the US (through the TIA standard organisation) and Europe (through the ISO organisation) and why IIM platforms are advocated by industry leaders as a new best-practice for increased efficiency of all data centers. Providing a better-managed network with greater independence and intelligence, IIM is becoming a requirement for all data centres.