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How to Make Your Data Center Sing

October 4, 2017 Jeff Kish

Is your Data Center a treble or a bass?  You won't know until it starts singing.

Orchestrate your Data Center efficiency

In 2017, it can seem like an impossible task to get a data center to hum in tune.  We long to be a conductor masterfully bringing disparate instruments together in harmony, yet it usually feels like we're trying to goad a pack of screaming children into playing nice together.  Fortunately, there are modern tools and trends that can help us get our data center back in order.


Chances are that you feel more like a plate spinner than a master conductor.  Need a datastore added to your virtual hosts?  We spin up a LUN here, add some masking there, beg the fibre channel zoning to work, and pray for success.  This is just one of many decade-old methodologies that we still employ.


There IS a better way.  Orchestration tools have been around for years, and they were built to solve this very problem.  Rather than configure one device at a time, create customized workflows that execute on multiple platforms on your behalf.  Many tools also offer cross-technology visibility, improving your ability to analyze and troubleshoot. Examples of orchestration software include Puppet, Chef, Ansible, Cisco UCS Director, and VMware vRealize.

Cloud Brokering

Yes, the cloud is here to stay, and we should be exploring how it fits into our data center strategy.  That said, the easiest part of cloud integration is connecting to the cloud.  Deciding which workloads to deploy into the cloud is another story entirely!


Cloud brokering software is a powerful enabler for proper use of the cloud.  It delivers a simple interface for pricing out your options and helping you determine the best cloud for your workload.  As if that wasn't enough, it will then deploy the workload on your behalf, slashing deployment time while automating tasks that would otherwise be manual.  The best example of cloud brokering software is Cisco CloudCenter (formerly CliQr).


Performance Tuning

Virtualization drastically improved our utilization ratios by combining multiple workloads onto a single host.  However, we now face a new efficiency challenge - reigning in VMs that reserve resources they will rarely (if ever) consume.  And with thousands, hundreds, or even dozens of VMs under our watch, it would take a Herculean effort to manage this manually.


Fortunately, tuning software is a powerful friend.  By deploying such software to your data center, VMs can be dynamically configured according to current resource needs.  This 8GB VM only needs 1.5GB right now?  Set it to 2GB.  Now it needs 3?  Set it to 4GB.  Extrapolate that across a data center, and many organizations see an immediate ROI on the software purchase simply by reducing the number of hosts required. Examples of tuning software include Turbonomic, Cisco Workload Optimization Manager, and VMware vRealize.


When giving presentations, I often offer this wake-up call-to-action: if the last major improvement to your data center was virtualization, your data center is ten years old!  If it's time to modernize your data center, give us a call and let's do some whiteboarding.


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