How to Manage Your Data Center Investment via Infrastructure Monitoring
By: Ernest Sampera on May 7, 2021
Think of the biggest challenge you have with your data center investment. Is it transparency when it comes to compliance? Or maybe you have no access to performance metrics of any type. Perhaps you’re facing a greater issue yet, one informed by all those details, such as a lack of control over your mission-critical infrastructure.
Whatever challenge came to mind, it’s likely a reminder of another. After all, managing your data center investment can feel like a juggling act and a whack-a-mole game rolled into one. Without the proper tools and coordination, that struggle isn’t one you can win. But armed with data center visibility, you have a shot at the prize: peace of mind when you think about your data center investment.
The Right Tools for Data Center Visibility
What capabilities do you need? A better understanding of compliance would be nice, to start. Overall data center visibility. A way to submit support tickets. Security that makes sense for the value of your data. And of course, the ideal is having control of your investment writ large.
Your business can have all of that. If you really want to manage your data center investment as effectively and efficiently as possible, you need an infrastructure management platform that works from where you are. (Consider the awareness and time savings of logging in to a platform to manage your data center, vs. waiting for an update or announcement email.)
With the right intelligence platform at your disposal, your investment stays in your hands. And since your infrastructure keeps your company running, that’s right where it should be. Let’s dig into what you should do once management is really in your hands. Here’s how you can best manage your investment using a platform.
How to Manage via an Infrastructure Monitoring Platform
While there are lots of individual tools to examine, every great management effort requires organization. So let’s start with the broad concepts. To really be in control of your data center investment, you need two major things from your platform: access management capabilities, and overall visibility. As everyone in data management knows, access really counts, so we’ll begin there.
Manage Data Access
One of the scariest parts of a distributed data infrastructure is just the feeling of being off-site. But if you could plainly address role-based access from your platform, that feeling gets a little less chill-inducing. (It becomes mere goosebumps once you have both a disaster recovery plan and a support team who can expedite your data center management in the case of an event.)
The ability to manage role-based controls within your platform helps you not only achieve security, but also identify ways to optimize. You can help people do their jobs more efficiently by limiting their access or providing access they require.
Additionally, every department can benefit from data protection and management tools. For example, you might integrate with your payment system for securing your invoices and payments directly within the platform. Just like you can limit access for your employees, you can limit your billing contacts to only view billing and order transaction information that’s relevant to them. When you’re managing through a platform, customizability at this granular level helps you keep complete control over user authorization.
Furthermore, access control assists with both usage and compliance. Controlling who has access to bandwidth usage information, compliance reports, and of course, your data center, will ensure information stays where it’s supposed to, and will help maintain compliance across departments.
So, who should have access to your platform, and at what level? It’s recommended to have 2-3 master administrators per account. This way, if one master administrator is away on vacation or unable to access your platform, there’s at least one other master administrator who can make adjustments as needed. Ideally, a platform that instantaneously accepts changes is ideal, meaning you don’t have to worry about old team members having continued access after you’ve changed their authorization settings.
One last benefit for compliance: Proof of access history when it comes to audits is invaluable. Access to a thorough log of user history and records makes sure you can prove certain employees were completely removed from the data center or access was removed or added at a certain time. Your compliance department will be grateful for this level of transparency.
Monitor Physical Assets
Managing your physical assets from offsite is a feat, and one a solid infrastructure intelligence platform will help you achieve. But keeping tabs on your assets isn’t as easy as simply checking a report once a day. Active management may be required in order to manage efficiently and effectively.
We suggest monitoring the status of your various data cabinets and ensure all of your data assets are in order. With just a few clicks, the right platform should let you see whether you need to make any changes. Ideally, you’ll be able to view your data center floorplan, with clear signals available for power utilization information in real-time. Power utilization is obviously critical information, but you can go even deeper, checking in on individual cabinets and the assets they hold.
Real-time information on the contents of your cabinets, in addition to the ability to add or delete assets on the fly, is a huge time-saver when it comes to asset management. If you, like us, take data center visibility to the next level, you’ll want continuous asset monitoring. Manage via an RFID tag and scan system for thorough asset verification, an incredibly useful tool for any business that moves data around.
Once again, let’s not forget the compliance benefits to physical asset management. If you can see your cabinets’ status and contents, and even create customizable hard copy reports on those contents, managing for compliance isn’t the stressor it always has been.
Reports like that are just the tip of the iceberg. To manage your data center investment from a platform, you’ll want more than just compliance reports. Usage reports, for starters, can be especially useful.
The ideal infrastructure intelligence platform provides all the reporting and insights you would expect to see within your own facility without the need for you to physically travel to your data center. Your business will quickly see the value in having this level of visibility into your power, bandwidth, and more.
Enable power notifications for your data assets to ensure circuits are not utilizing too much (or too little) power. Have a specific circuit that you want to keep an eye on? Want to be informed when any of your data cabinets pass a certain threshold of power utilization? You can customize power notifications so that you’re always in the know when it comes to your data usage.
Select whichever power circuits you wish to keep an eye on and enable notifications for when they pass a certain power threshold, but, since power utilization rates fluctuate quite a bit and aren’t always a cause for concern when the rate is temporarily above your maximum threshold, be sure not to bombard yourself with notifications. Set a 24-hour notification period for consistency.
Make sure you have access to notification history, too. Knowing what happened in the past can lead to an optimized future.
Notifications aren’t everything. We all know the pain of reporting back.
Oftentimes, you and your team will be asked to provide reports on how much power your data assets are using. Create custom reports to cover data usage over any date range and export for a higher level look than your notifications can provide. You can share these types of reports with team members and auditors in a digestible fashion.
Gather valuable insights, such as average power usage levels, required power capacity, and more, all of which can help you fine-tune your data management plans to ensure you’re utilizing your investment as efficiently as possible.
In light of the pandemic, we all saw the need for increased bandwidth due to the massive shift towards remote workforces. Without an ability to understand overages, what was a business to do? To manage your investment, bandwidth visibility should be a top priority.
Though they’re probably the last report on your mind when you manage your data assets, transaction reports really do matter: they can help you and your billing contacts stay on top of invoices and orders to ensure transactions are being handled correctly.
Other Report Types
In the end, reporting is a massive component of successful data center infrastructure management. A high quality management tool will let you produce a variety of customizable reports; knowing how to manage your business’s specific reporting needs within your platform will be critical.
But if there’s ever something you can’t find, don’t let the platform get the best of you. The purpose of managing your investment through a platform is peace of mind — so be sure to ask for support where you need it.
Ask for Support
Given the new state of business and distributed workforces, it’s harder than ever to get complete insight into the performance and maintenance of your data assets with eyes on. You may need more support than usual. Ensure your platform has a built-in support ticket tool, and use it liberally. Since you’re likely unable to pop into your data center and perform the maintenance work yourself, round-the-clock support is a key to successful management.
But don’t tie yourself to your desk just because you have a support team. Managing your investment remotely might require you to manage while mobile.
If you’re away from your computer and want to check in on your data assets, are you stuck? Efficient management really does require data center visibility when you need it. Whether an emergency issue while you’re in the carwash or a quick vendor authorization as you grab a coffee, a fast and mobile management solution is a must.
What Can Infrastructure Management Unlock for Your Business?
By utilizing a monitoring tool for data center visibility, you regain control over your assets and infrastructure. From power and bandwidth usage to access management, from compliance reports to mobile access, a great data strategy should have you on the forefront of intelligent monitoring.
About Ernest Sampera
Ernie Sampera is the Chief Marketing Officer at vXchnge. Ernie is responsible for product marketing, external & corporate communications and business development.