Real Time Data Center Inventory and IT Equipment Utilization

Have you ever struggled to find a particular server in your data center, did someone on the data center or lab staff ever unplug the power or network cable to the wrong server? What about knowing whether your IT equipment is being utilized effectively, how could you tell? Did you view each server through it's resource window, or maybe you walked behind them to see if the network card traffic light was lit up. I'm only half joking, but really, other than monitoring the performance of an application, how are you keeping track of whether the 1000 or 20000 servers in your environment are actually being used effectively? Do you realize that even at idle most servers (unless the power save feature is enabled) use between 65 & 75% of the power they use at 100% CPU utlization. What about SOX or other audits, how much time does the team waste running around validating where a particular server is?

The issues above have plagued large data center/lab teams for years and while many of us have found tools that offer some small amout of help, most of the tools aren't real time or dynamic. The inventory information is largely just a nicer view of what used to be a spreadsheet and maybe now you've got some help determining whether adding more systems to a specific area of the data center might cause a power or heat problem. However, the information isn't automatically maintained so it often times goes out of date in a matter of days or weeks depending on the movement of systems in your environment. These tools also don't provide you with a view into how all your systems are being used, they only tell you where stuff is.

What I've been searching for and sometimes actually working on is a solution that will maintain my inventory of systems, including location and lifecycle, along with a view into how effectively the systems are being utilized. I've seen a few tools that have significant promise on the server utilization front. These apps can capture utilization for every function on a server and what's even more important they don't leave a footprint, that' right no agent is required. I've also see a few interesting solutions from a couple of startups for the inventory management side that offer dynamic maintenance of server location. The next big step is to marry these two applications into one solution. This single solution would offer dynamic realtime information on how your environment was being used and where each piece of your equipment inventory was.

My dream is to have a data center that I can measure like I measure the gas in my car and while having the solution I described above doesn't cover everything, it certainly is a big step in the right direction.