Intelligent infrastructure management systems allow businesses to make better use of the IT they already have, says Roddy Adams

Many organisations fail to get the best results from their technology infrastructures because of the incremental way in which IT is purchased. Once bought, there is often a lack of integration between new and not-so-new.

Unless you can afford to relocate to new premises, you have to build better systems and processes around the IT you’ve got. My advice is to see what’s in the cupboard before you go shopping. Too often the effort is put on what new systems will achieve, rather than how they complement existing ones. An organisation’s IT potential is not always fully exploited.

Data centres are an extreme case in point. Their mission-critical requirements are increasing as businesses become ever more reliant on IT systems and web presence. Data centres, like other businesses, are under pressure to increase the value from IT. Intelligent infrastructure management (IIM) systems lower risk by providing a consistent and uninterrupted support to the business.

IIM provides the missing link between real-time network management tools and the traditional cabling infrastructures. With an IIM system you can automate the process of discovering, documenting, monitoring and managing the physical and logical network connections and connected devices from end to end. IIM also provides valuable forensic information from the event log that supplements the tracking of IT policy violation. Its ability to identify the actual location of an IT asset in real time means IT managers can pinpoint an offending device within seconds of an incident occurring.

Time to look in the cupboard

But what happens when the data centre suffers a major power loss and the network and data centre cannot be monitored effectively? This is when looking in the cupboard can be useful. Data centres are often consolidated into a small number of distributed sites managed from a central location. These remote centres are said to be “lights-out” operations, meaning they have few skilled personnel on site. They use out-of-band management systems to provide remote access to the corporate network or data centre even when power is down.

Most data-centric organisations have some form of out-of-band management systems and have invested in IIM. Very few have integrated the two. Doing so provides the means to pinpoint faults or rogue activity even when the main network is down. Linking IIM to out-of-band management is like teaming up a safe cracker and sniffer dog. One gets you in and the other finds what you seek. True remote management can be achieved and systems can be interrogated without slowing down the main corporate network. As the adoption of new technologies rages on, it is essential to look at what your building already has and how best to use it. In the case of integrating IIM and out-of-band management, looking in the cupboard now and again is a very smart move.