Beat the Clock

Imagine you’re a data center operations manager. What happens if a mission critical e-commerce application crashes after an overnight firmware patch?  If the application halts revenue generation, every minute wasted may lead to company losses.  What would you do?  The clock is ticking…

If you’re operating a traditional data center environment you probably would:

  1. Identify a baseline software/firmware revision level before the patch or patches were made.
  2. Determine what change caused the failure.
  3. Take steps to remediate the failure.

These steps are difficult and time consuming, causing company revenue to continuously tick away with the clock:

  • Clock4-6 hours – Manually determine and document pre-patch firmware levels.
  • 2 hours – Identify changes made and determine if capability with existing infrastructure components. This could involve calling multiple vendors’ tech support lines.
  • 2-4 hours – Remediate the failure and stabilize the infrastructure environment.

If it takes the full twelve hours to resolve these problems, then money is lost, the company reputation suffers and the IT staff and company executives are left with an uneasy feeling of when the next shoe will drop.  The worse the lifecycle management practices are at a company, the longer it takes to identify and resolve failures.  Many companies do not keep accurate records of software/firmware levels in their data center environments.  These baselines are critical to speeding problem resolutions.

However, there is an easier, faster and cheaper way. VCE’s approach to lifecycle management within the Vblock System prevents most failures from happening in the first place.  If however a failure does take place, operators can easily identify the cause of failures using VCE’s unique software management layer.

All VCE Vblock™ System customers are armed with a complete fully tested package called a release certification matrix (RCM).   Every RCM lists all the firmware/software versions of the infrastructure’s network, compute, storage and virtualization components that have been tested and guaranteed for interoperability by VCE engineers before the release package is distributed to customers.

Similarly, VCE also delivers a solution for converged infrastructure management called VCE Vision™ Intelligent Operations as part of a standard Vblock™ System.  VCE Vision is an API-enabled software layer that sits between Vblock Systems’ and existing data center management tools. VCE Vision provides the following six core capabilities:  discovery, identification, validation, logging, health and integration.   VCE Vision discovers all the components and software levels of the Vblock System and stores them in the VCE Vision system library.  This information can then be quickly and automatically compared against a known RCM level to determine variances.   Actual versus expected software levels are organized and displayed so that operators can determine the appropriate course of action that may include updating software or doing nothing.

Using VCE Vision software, the timeline for the scenario above now looks like this:

  • 20 seconds – Use the VCE Vision plug-in for VMware’s vCenter to discover all infrastructure components and run a compliance validation against a RCM level. VCE Vision is natively integrated with vCenter so all VMware customers have access to this functionality.  The screen shots below illustrate this capability within vCenter.

Compliance Test

  • 1 min – Review the compliance validation report and identify firmware incompatibilities.  See vCenter screen shot below.

 Compliance Validation Report

The timeline to identify and remediate the failure just shrunk from hours or days to even a few minutes through VCE Vision capabilities. The Vblock Systems’ RCMs, full integration testing and VCE Vision software are all part of the VCE experience that contributes to VCE’s lead in the converged infrastructure marketplace.

Stop the clock. Did you beat it?

About the Author: Gregory Lyon