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Cut Bait on Old IT: 4 Areas to Re-examine Current IT Operations Tools


Cut Bait on Old IT: 4 Areas to Re-examine Current IT Operations Tools


Cloud toolsRecently Matt Prigge wrote in InfoWorld about one of the persistent challenges in IT, on dealing with obsolete tools in an article titled When to cut bait on old IT. He observes that "one of the hardest things in IT is to know when an exisiting solution is past its prime -- and when it's worth trying something new in its place."

One of the most pervasive shifts in IT has been the shift from manual to automated and from reactive to proactive management. So while attention is now getting placed on deployment and setting up servers, the need to understand and manage servers needs even more attention, especially that in many cases servers are provisioned automatically as well as the applications running on them. 

Below are some of the areas in IT operations where current tools need reconsideration for meeting the needs of the modern data center.

#1 Need to monitor environments in real-time.

One of the aspects of cloud that has changed data center operations is elasticity, and the ability to add more resources on demand.

We looked at how with many more events taking place dynamically in the cloud, running systems in the cloud creates new conditions that should be addressed by monitoring and automation tools, explaining that "currently, cloud resource management systems (for example, VMWare's DRS, or Amazon's AutoScaling) focus on the control of the infrastructure. These systems allocate resources on a real-time basis according to a predefined set of rules without any understanding of the business services using the allocated resources. At the same time monitoring and management technologies should be able to view the cloud environment from the business service perspective to deliver meaningful results. These technologies should work in sync with the resource management platforms maintaining a real-time picture of the monitored environments according to the changes cause by resource re-distribution." 

See more in Forget Tool Improvements! Today's Systems Management Needs a New Generation Of Tools

#2 Configuration Management tools become more and more important.

A new configuration management tool is needed to monitor the changes on running systems to address issues like: was the update implemented, has performance dropped, understand the causes, stay on top of changes that can enter via, various infrastructure components, especially since there are different tools for each cloud environment layer.

We looked at what was needed for today's configuration management, observing that "in cloud-based operations, change and configuration management really becomes even more relevant. Since configurations are changed programmatically (through automated mechanisms), configuration management tools have even more bearing for work in the cloud understanding actual cloud configuration and tying it back to programmatic activities. These tools now need to automate system deployments and make sure that every instance providing a specific service has a consistent configuration. These tools also need to automatically review configuration changes distributed to running systems." 

See more in Cloud Management Needs Context 

#3 Cloud management tools need to introduce zero overhead.

One of the issues with current IT management tools is even as more elastic and efficient platforms come into play, the tools to manage them add more administrative burdens.

We reported that IT sees how "The challenge of tools administration in the cloud is exacerbated as IT staffs face the burden of using a variety of specialized cloud management tools, each designed to address a specific operation in cloud management, having their own setup, configurations, and administrative responsibilities. 

System management tools for cloud need to take a new approach, seeing activity in real time and identifying the affected components. This can be seen in the sense of when the server CPU activity suddenly jumps by 60%, then you need to know what type of server it is. If it is the application server, then you should be able to identify which one, and what is the configuration. Even more importantly, know what the actual configuration should be to investigate the reasons of the CPU jump." 

See more in Cloud Management Tools Shouldn't Add Burden To Admin

#4 Piles information generated in cloud environments need to be manage with intelligent, automated analytics.

Available static tools can be frustrating, time-consuming, expensive, and most likely unsuccessful for managing the demands of the modern data center.

We looked how today's tools often lack the capabilities for handling the new, unique characteristics of the cloud, explaining that "the dynamic nature of cloud platforms generates significant amounts of events and data at a high frequency. While everything may feel like it is functioning, and there aren't problems, this is essentially 'flying blind', leaving IT operations unprepared for a slow down or incident. Despite the automated state of the cloud, IT still needs to take a proactive approach and be able to react quickly when service is impacted."

See more in Cloud Changes Everything! Need a New Generation Of Management Tools

One more thing.

For today's advanced, modern data centers, you need to have monitoring tools that support the cloud's elasticity by automatically including and excluding new and dropped server instances from the monitoring scope. The new generation of tools that are monitoring these environments need to be able to connect the virtualized perspective with actual configuration of all the involved layers, and, in an automated fashion, be able to assure that the cloud management loop is closed. 

After all, you wouldn't expect to drive a vintage car in the exciting world of tomorrow.

Your Turn
How are YOU managing the modern data center?

About the Author
Martin Perlin