Understanding Automated Infrastructure Management in the Data Center
29 June 2018 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Speed, Density, Complexity, Quantity: The Need for Automated Infrastructure Management Solutions
Today’s data centers are fast-evolving and increasingly complex. For example, to maintain the bandwidth and speed needed to transmit large amounts of data to and from multiple sources, it’s crucial to expand fiber-optic infrastructure. And, with switches with 40G and 100G ports increasingly commonplace, it’s clear that data center infrastructure is becoming more complex. As a result, traditional, manual methods for managing fiber connectivity may no longer be sufficient to support high-speed data transmission, while maintaining efficient network performance.
Driven by virtualization, convergence and cloud computing, as well as high-bandwidth applications such as SVOD, it’s clearly important to support more bandwidth. However, there are some additional trends impacting data center fiber infrastructure management that must also be considered. For example:
- Higher port density. Space in the data center is in demand, resulting in higher densities of fiber ports on equipment and fiber shelves. This increased density results in the increased risk of making or removing the wrong connection – which could potentially cause widespread disruptions to network services.
- Increased complexity of cabling topology. Point-to-multipoint connections have become more common with the arrival of 40G and 100G technology, making manual record-keeping a challenge.
- Increased complexity of network architecture. Heavily-meshed leaf-spine network architecture has greatly increased the number of connections as well as a need for the meticulous deployment of connectivity pattern/mesh for orderly network expansions in the data center.
The answer to this complex management challenge? Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM) solutions.
Benefits of AIM for Data Centers
Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM) is an integrated hardware and software platform that manages the entire physical layer of the data center. AIM documents the cabling infrastructure in the data center, including connected equipment, and provides a comprehensive view of device location and connection.
There are several advantages of capturing information about every physical connection in the network and relaying it to higher-level network management systems:
- AIM improves capacity management by providing an accurate view of available panel, switch and server ports. This can help address network capacity challenges by eliminating dormant ports, enabling more efficient planning and reducing CapEx.
- As the precise location of a connectivity problem is documented, this makes troubleshooting easier as the technician no longer needs to spend time verifying manual documentation or hunting for the location of a problem.
- AIM provides accurate and real-time reports on the status and capacity of network infrastructure and issues alarms when a port is disconnected or connected in an unauthorized location (for example, if someone has moved a server without following approved change management processes).
- An automated workflow reduces time-intensive manual processes; this can help minimize human error and reduce data center downtime and mean-time-to-repair through precise notification of connectivity outages.
Considerations When Choosing an AIM System
As the IT industry has recognized the importance of infrastructure solutions for data center management, it has established standards for AIM capabilities and functions. To ensure that an AIM solution meets the key requirements of ISO/IEC 18598, an AIM solution must:
- Automatically detect and monitor connectivity
- Automatically detect, document, and monitor the presence of network devices
- Automatically update records with any modifications to monitored connections
- Be able to document connectivity between non-AIM enabled ports and other equipment
- Identify and track the physical location of end devices connected to the network
- Generate graphic representation of end-to-end connectivity (circuit trace)
- Generate electronic work orders and automatically monitor the accuracy of implementation of work order tasks
Intelligent connectivity is becoming a mission-critical technology for data centers as AIM standards have emerged. Indeed, now is the time to upgrade to an AIM-driven intelligent connectivity system to be able to meet current and future demand for the transmission of large amounts of data to and from multiple sources.
You can learn more about data center solutions, technologies, architectures and challenges and solutions here.