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Facilities management + Avocent = Trellis

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Emerson Network Power based its approach to data center infrastructure management (DCIM) around two acquisitions — Aperture then Avocent (acquired for US$1.2bn in 2009) — then integrating those software suites with SiteScan, from what is the existing subsidiary of Liebert. It describes the maturing of its DCIM offering as pre-Avocent and post Avocent.
 
Before Avocent, SiteScan capabilities extended to monitoring gensets, transfer switches, surge suppressors, uninterruptible 3power supplies (UPS), cooling and rack power distribution units (PDUs). This delivered insight into power/battery status, temperature, humidity, airflow, assethistory, health, operation, location, connectivity and specification.
 
Post Avocent, it can monitor the server, storage and networking infrastructure with insight into power consumption,component temperature, processor/memory load, motherboard history, device location, specification and connectivity. It is now a case of integrating these capabilities througha single dashboard which will give visibility, access and control of all facility and IT components.
 
That is the promise of Emerson’s Trellis offering. The core Trellis modules will beavailable by Q4 2011 with subsequent modules rolling out over the following 12 to 18 months.Emerson says it has developed a ‘closed loop’ migration path to Trellis for existing Avocent,Aperture and Liebert users.
 
Trellis is not simply about adopting modules, nor is it purely targeted at mega-scale data centers. Emerson has developed a 1U rackbased hardware appliance which will act as a data aggregator. Each appliance will control up to 15 racks – the entry level point for any data center considering a DCIM project, the company says.
 
"Our commitment has been to advance the state of data center infrastructure management whileprotecting our customers’ investments in the technology they are using today," says Steve Hassell, President of the Avocent business of Emerson Network Power. "We are now in a position to work with new and existing customers to outline exactly how they can adopt the Trellis platform and experience unparalleled control over data center operations."
 
Anticipating Trellis
Saher Arar is the head of IT and strategy planning of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD). He runs 800 sq m of combined floor space over three data centers and is currently at the planning stage for a new data center. His estate consists of 800 servers, 645 communication links and 2,000 network devices. He is an existing Avocent user.
 

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Arar said the bank began exploring DCIM,in this case rolling out the Avocent product, because the building the bank occupied was not built for a data center. "We had lots of management problems. Access and compliance issues relating to how the data center was being managed," Arar says.

"We looked at several aspects of data center management. We put our requirements into a request for proposal (RFP) and issued it to six vendors. We chose Avocent.
 
"We are currently up and running. It is providing some visibility on cooling and power distribution. It also provides some remote control for a data center that is 160km away. The program ran very smoothly and we’re happy.’
 
The project took about six months from RFP to deployment and Arar says the bank saw benefits immediately. "We used it to provide dynamic management of the layout and the utilization of power (the data center shares the same power grid as the rest of the building) and cooling and the servers," he says.
 
NBAD is now looking to Trellis to deliver active management. "We are looking forwardto the new Trellis functionality as what we’re looking for now is active management, ratherthan static management."
 
As for its new data center project, Arar says he has yet to put Avocent or other modules to use. "We are currently still at the build concept for the new data center. But as soon as the design is set and regulatory approval for the building design [is received] we will use DCIM for the data center design itself," he says. The plan is to be in the new data center within 18 months.

Who knew?
Emerson Network Power undertook a survey of 240 US DC professionals, asking them why firms didn’t use the tools already available. It found three factors that stopped firms from optimizing their data center performance. Lack of visibility into system utilization, absence of documented efficiency strategies and lack of functionality within management systems.
 
Respondents identified an array of management tools they were using. The most common were facility monitoring (65%), equipment tracking (54%) and cooling management (53%).
 
On the other end of the spectrum, tracking virtual machines and their dependencies on underlying hardware (28%) and IT capacity management (27%) were among the least used management tools. Less than a quarter (24%) of respondents had achieved any integration between virtual and physical management platforms.
 
When asked whether DCIM was administrative or transformational, Arar says "both". 
 
With Trellis, Emerson Network Power is banking on this fact, and its findings that few companies have even attempted any kind of integration between the facilities and IT layer.

 

Steve Hassell will present the latest on Trellis at DatacenterDynamics London.
A version of this article appeared in FOCUS 17. Read the Digital Edition.

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