For decades IT groups have been using increasingly advanced tools to manage their various servers, storage systems, networks and printers. Data center physical infrastructure is just as important as these IT systems and deserves the same level of management if they are to deliver consistent, reliable performance.
With that in mind, Schneider Electric’s Energy University is offering a free online course, “Physical Infrastructure Management Basics,” that provides a good foundation upon which to build a solid data center infrastructure management strategy.
To describe the disciplines inherent in physical infrastructure management, the course uses the same terms employed in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL is a popular framework that many customers and equipment suppliers have found helpful in understanding the various aspects of management.
ITIL is all about adhering to processes when it comes to management and it describes various connected processes. As the course explains, the most important ones to consider when managing physical infrastructure are:
- Availability management
- Change management
- Capacity management
- Incident management
Incident management is concerned with returning to the normal service level as soon as possible, with the smallest possible impact on the business activity of the organization and user, after any incident that disrupts service.
You’ll learn about the challenges inherent in incident management and why a system-level view that allows you to see relationships between interconnected components is crucial to addressing them.
Availability management is all about identifying availability and reliability requirements and, when necessary, introducing improvements to allow the organization to achieve and sustain optimum quality levels at a justifiable cost. With respect to physical infrastructure, that means monitoring service levels and understanding the potential downtime that can result from individual components failing and what the impact of such failures would be on the entire system.
The course explores in depth specific challenges associated with incident management, including: availability metrics reporting; advance warning for failure; planned downtime; and infrastructure improvement.
Capacity management is concerned with providing the required IT resources at the right time, at the right cost, aligned with the current and future requirements of the internal customer. Power, cooling, rack space, and cabling are all IT resources that require capacity management.
Here again, you’ll learn how to address the challenges associated with capacity management, including: monitoring and recording data center equipment and infrastructure changes; providing physical infrastructure capacity; optimizing the physical layout of existing and new equipment; as well as incrementally scaling the data center infrastructure.
Finally, change management is the process concerned with methods and procedures for making changes to infrastructure with the lowest possible impact on service quality, and is increasingly critical for optimizing business agility.
The course covers change management challenges including: executing “moves, adds, and changes” of IT equipment and software without impacting availability; implementing firmware changes in individual physical infrastructure components; maintaining all physical infrastructure components, and maintaining spares at compatible firmware revision levels.
When implementing a new management strategy, many companies have trouble deciding where to start. The course offers guidance here, too, recommending this 4-step plan:
- Implement an incident management system
- Set and measure availability targets
- Monitor and plan for long term changes in capacity
- Get change management processes in place
That may sound overly simple, but as the course explains, organizations typically focus on fully implementing each management process for three to six months before moving on to the next one. So you’ve got some time.
You’ll also learn about the difference and interconnection between a building management system (BMS) and an enterprise management system (EMS) such as HP’s OpenView or IBM’s Tivoli, as well as best practices around physical infrastructure management standards.
By the end of the course, in less than 60 minutes, you’ll have a good understanding of what physical infrastructure management is all about, the challenges in implementing it and how to address them, and the key standards and best practices to be aware of.