Don’t Treat Your Data Center Like an Email Inbox

Posted 03.13.13 in View from the Top by Nlyte Software

If you’re anything like me, whether it is your work email or your personal email account, you are constantly receiving emails, reading or scanning most of them, and then simply just leaving them in your inbox. To stay. Never to be deleted.  You might put them into a mail folder and call that “managing your email.” In my case, my personal Yahoo! account is free, and I’m nowhere near my space limit there.  My work account is limited, and since my IT group doesn’t support archiving, I’ve been unable to delete enough emails to fall below my 600mb limit, and have just been granted 300mb more space. But that’s email – pretty low impact.

So what’s the corollary to a datacenter you ask? Well, think about it: your IT and business groups are constantly submitting requests for new applications, not to mention your finance department is counting on depreciated assets to fall off the books and thus has the Capex in place for new infrastructure to be rolled in.  You’re so busy walking the floor or checking your spreadsheets or in-house solution (or worse, inexpensive DCIM solution with no controls) to keep up with demand that you don’t effectively clean out your inbox: decommissioned servers stay put and become what we in the industry call “zombie” servers (they are dead but are not properly buried and thus still consume energy – in the case of real zombies, human brains, but in the case of servers, about 60% of a peak power draw – not to mention critical space and network connections, too.)  So you have trouble placing the new assets AND still have the old ones in place AND you’re consuming precious data center resources, which, believe you-me, are quite a bit more costly than expanding an email account!

But wait, there’s more (bad news).  If you treat your data center like an inbox, you are just receiving things, when other people want to send them, while you’re unaware of when you’re about to receive something. So you might get flooded with requests, with no rhyme or reason, and as a data center manager, be unprepared and thus seemingly unresponsive for such an influx. There’s no SLA for an email response (instantaneous?) But for a server installation, there are huge repercussions that a business is constantly exposed to.  Will that application have available hardware? Do I have power/space/cooling for that hardware? When can I count on the business savings of that new app?  Am I leveraging the full depreciation cycles of my hardware, or are things just sitting on my receiving dock, unbeknownst to me?

So you can clearly see that there are significant items at stake in your data center, which are quite a bit more serious than those you face with your email inbox. What process exists to decommission items, on time, what process exists for me to receive something, with full notifications, how can I let someone know when I can receive and act on something?  Do then, ask yourself, why again is your organization still treating your data center like an email inbox?

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