BlogHow to Deploy a Smart(er) Data Center


I recently attended the IDC Directions 2019 conference in Santa Clara where industry analysts spoke on many topics about the technology business cycle depicted below.

Technology business cycle .

There were two important takeaways for me from this conference. First, the importance of using AI in the operational management of a data center cannot be over emphasized. AI and machine learning will bring a great deal of change to IT infrastructure management over the next many years.

Secondly, the need to adopt and apply IT automation for day-to-day tasks is critical for IT support teams. Automation is clearly needed to support DevOps teams, hybrid cloud models, or web scale deployments, but it is also necessary for any infrastructure where you want repeatable, consistent management and application deployment across your IT infrastructure.

One of the critical components of automation is to begin moving away from a CLI-based approach to an API-based infrastructure built around using the REST protocol. REST stands for Representational State Transfer and was developed along with HTTP in the late 1990’s. It’s an architectural style that uses the HTTP protocol for device communication.

Hitachi Vantara must have received this message from IDC a while ago because they have already released two products that embrace these two concepts: AI and IT automation. These two products are Hitachi Infrastructure Analytics Advisor (HIAA) and Hitachi Automation Director (HAD). No surprise, Hitachi says it developed HIAA and HAD in direct response to customers’ demands and are major elements in Hitachi Vantara’s infrastructure management portfolio.

Specifically, HIAA has over 77 performance metrics, all provided via the REST API. This infrastructure telemetry is collected across the complete data path (from host server and VM through the SAN network, to the storage systems) to allow HIAA to determine the right actions to take. It provides monitoring, diagnostic and predictive services from virtual or bare-metal servers, through the storage network, and into storage systems. It maintains configuration histories for all of these elements, reports trends, and provides predictive analytics for capacity and performance planning. This covers VMs, servers and storage, and all interdependencies to give a holistic view of resources and consumption trends.

HIAA will issue warning of anomalies in system performance or resource usage and it does not require customers to determine what is normal behavior for system elements. Rather than managing to a set of fixed Service Level Objectives (SLOs), HIAA instead creates bands that represent variations in workloads during normal operation. This eliminates false alarms, so that alerts are not issued when a scheduled batch job or backup temporarily increases storage workloads, while still providing the detection of unusual behavior and alerting of long-term trends.

On the other hand, HAD is supplied with predefined workflows for multiple tasks, including VM deployments on VMware, Hyper-V and KVM, zoning of Cisco or Brocade SANs, and building data protection configurations for business applications. This catalog of templates can automatically orchestrate the delivery and management of IT resources.

HAD communicates with Ethernet and SAN switches, virtual machines, containers or public cloud through their APIs. When one considers all the tedious steps required to request and deploy storage, networking, hypervisor, and application services for hundreds or even thousands of users, HAD reduces hours of work down to minutes, not to mention doing it all error-free.

Future developments for these two products include additional ‘what-if’ planning features, more automated remediation of problems or SLA violations, and additional coverage of third-party infrastructure. By combining HIAA and HAD into the IT support process, organizations see tremendous synergy. Over time, HIAA collects and monitors all the infrastructure events and errors, and through AI and using the REST API, it communicates with HAD to fix any anomalies.

I think this is what the IDC Directions 2019 conference meant when they said we are in the wave of Multiplied Innovation.

For more information on HIAA and HAD, be sure to download the ebook – Your Complete Guide to Data Center Modernization.

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About the Author

Mark Teter, Corporate Technologist

Mark Teter, Corporate Technologist

In his role, Mark is responsible for the strategic direction of ASG’s emerging technology offerings and advancing the deployment of present-day hybrid cloud solutions for our customers. Mark has served as Faculty Staff Member at Colorado State University and has written over 50 white papers on subjects including Data Center Ethernet, Linux and Open Source, Storage Area Networks and Computer Virtualization. He published Paradigm Shift in 2006, a book on emerging technologies. He is a Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect.