Smart tools alleviate pain: managing more complexity with fewer resources is the challenge for today's IT managers. (Internet).Today's IT environment is characterized by a variety of architectures, platforms and technologies. Within five years, hundreds of millions of people will be connected, using wireless and other devices, driving trillions of transactions and accessing large amounts of rich media and storage. For IT managers, this spells more complexity and greater challenges as they try to track, monitor, manage and troubleshoot the IT assets spread out over the network.
Compounding this challenge are shrinking IT budgets and a shortage of critical skills to manage the increased complexity. In short, IT managers are being asked to do more with less while, at the same time, maximizing system availability for their end-users.
The solution is not simply more "systems management" but smart systems management--the management of IT assets using tools with proactive, predictive and automated capabilities. Smart systems management can handle the repetitive operational tasks and allow the system administrator to manage proactively rather than reactively.
For example, configuring and deploying a server can be a time-consuming and complex undertaking. The server may be in a remote location where technical skills are minimal. The cost and complexity of keeping these remote systems current with the latest software and firmware A category of memory chips that hold their content without electrical power. Firmware includes flash, ROM, PROM, EPROM and EEPROM technologies. When holding program instructions, firmware can be thought of as "hard software." See flash memory, ROM, PROM, EPROM, EEPROM and FOTA. can be a challenge.
Deploying smart systems-management tools that include versatile utilities can simplify the deployment and configuration of systems on the network and provide administrators the ability to remotely distribute an entire system image or firmware updates, saving time and travel. These tools should also be able to take advantage of intelligent and automated facilities, such as configuration wizards, scheduler and event-action planning.
AUTOMATIC DEPLOYMENT AND CONFIGURATION
Wizards make server deployment easier by automating the configuration of hardware settings. Once configured, profiles add convenience and time savings by enabling the configuration to be applied many times to other systems. Some solutions can be automated by including policies in the profile that give instructions to automatically deploy a software image according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the defined policy. Configuration and deployment is automatic, with no human intervention required.
Another tedious configuration task the IT administrator faces is installing PCI cards A circuit board that plugs into the computer's PCI bus and contains the control electronics for a peripheral device. Starting in the latter half of the 1990s, PCI became very popular. See PCI. in the appropriate slot, while making sure input/output (I/O (Input/Output) The transfer of data between the CPU and a peripheral device. Every transfer is an output from one device and an input to another. See PC input/output.
I/O - Input/Output ) throughput is optimized. Many administrators do this by trial and error, consuming valuable time. This task is magnified in environments with large numbers of I/O slots, such as those with remote I/O drawers attached to the network.
PCI cards should be managed with systems-management software with built-in intelligence that alleviates the pain of manually trying to match the PCI card to the correct slot to ensure optimal I/O performance. Such tools help optimize I/O performance by matching card characteristics to the PCI-X (PCI eXtended) An enhanced PCI bus technology originally developed by IBM, HP and Compaq that is backward compatible with existing PCI cards. PCI and 32-bit PCI-X slots are physically the same, and PCI cards can plug into PCI-X slots. bus and offer guidance as to the best slots in which to install PCI (1) (Payment Card Industry) See PCI DSS.
(2) (Peripheral Component Interconnect) The most widely used I/O bus (peripheral bus). and PCI-X cards.
Some cards, such as next-generation 10-Gbps (or higher) InfiniBand, Ethernet and Fibre Channel cards, will benefit from running in 133-MHz PCI-X slots, while other cards will run at top speed in 100-MHz, 66-MHz or even 33-MHz PCI slots. The software should also recommend whether cards should go in the server chassis or in remote expansion enclosures containing an additional six or 12 PCI-X slots.
Once a system is configured and running, another concern for the IT staff is determining if a system requires software updates and how to easily distribute them to remote locations with minimal disruption. To alleviate this challenge, tools are available that give proactive notification that updates are available for a particular server; some even categorize cat·e·go·rize
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.
cat how critical the update is. These smart tools also automate the process of finding the update and scheduling its distribution.
Perhaps the most unbearable pain of all is the cost impact of downtime on servers running business-critical applications. Although there are many estimates regarding downtime costs, one fact remains constant: costs are incurred when a server goes down and these costs can include lost revenue, lost productivity and even damage to the company's reputation.
TOOLS WARN OF PROBLEMS
Reducing these costs can be accomplished by either avoiding the occurrence of a system failure or minimizing the duration of the outage out·age
1. A quantity or portion of something lacking after delivery or storage.
2. A temporary suspension of operation, especially of electric power. . Although some types of system failures are unpredictable, many types are gradual and, over time, can snowball snowball: see honeysuckle. into a costly, unplanned outage. Smart tools can predict and provide advance warning of a brewing problem, and enable rapid recovery if a failure occurs.
Server resource-utilization and environmental parameters--like temperatures, voltages and fan speed--can be monitored to help predict failures. There are some tools that continually monitor the utilization of processors, disk drives, memory and network bandwidth to identify bottlenecks for an individual system or a group of systems--and make recommendations to alleviate diminished performance or downtime.
Some tools produce reports to quickly isolate historic problems and identify trends that indicate impending im·pend
intr.v. im·pend·ed, im·pend·ing, im·pends
1. To be about to occur: Her retirement is impending.
2. trouble. Once notified, alerts can be triggered to allow automated corrective actions, minimizing the involvement of the IT staff.
Just like hardware, software often exhibits an increasing failure rate over time when there is unbounded resource consumption. This is referred to as "software aging Software aging refers to progressive performance degradation or a sudden hang/crash of a software system due to exhaustion of operating system resources, fragmentation and accumulation of errors. References
Notification of a potential future outage can give administrators the opportunity to take corrective action and avoid unplanned downtime, or to automatically schedule a system restart during non-peak business hours BUSINESS HOURS. The time of the day during which business is transacted. In respect to the time of presentment and demand of bills and notes, business hours generally range through the whole day down to the hours of rest in the evening, except when the paper is payable it a bank or by a . After the system restart, resources are reclaimed, and the software failure rate returns to its initial lower level.
Managing more complexity with fewer skilled people requires more than just systems management. Smart tools with proactive and automated features that help offload To remove work from one computer and do it on another. See cooperative processing. the valuable time of the IT staff are also needed. The time invested in implementing these tools is more than offset by the payback: more productive IT staff and cost savings from alleviating the pains associated with system deployment The deployment of a mechanical device, electrical system, computer program, etc., is its assembly or transformation from a packaged form to an operational working state.
Deployment implies moving a product from a temporary or development state to a permanent or desired state. and downtime.
For more information from IBM (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, www.ibm.com) The world's largest computer company. IBM's product lines include the S/390 mainframes (zSeries), AS/400 midrange business systems (iSeries), RS/6000 workstations and servers (pSeries), Intel-based servers (xSeries) : www.rsleads.com/308cn-259
Mazanec is a product manager at IBM in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , N.Y.