Increase Visibility Into Infrastructure Management With EMC DataBridge

What if you could create your own view of your data center?

Well, you will soon be able to develop your own custom visualizations with EMC DataBridge which provides a new way of thinking about—and creating—a single-pane of glass.

As covered in a recent post, IT infrastructure management solutions go deep, providing detailed information of only part of your infrastructure to address very specific use cases with varying effectiveness, but that is not how data centers should be run. While these solutions are inter-related in what they provide, they often exist as rigid silos of data and functionality within the data center. To truly run IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS), these silos must be broken down and combined to provide better insight into infrastructure resource use, issue identification resolution, metering, resource planning, and more.

EMC DataBridge is an enterprise management software that enables you to transform how you consume and manage your IT operations data by providing tools you need to combine EMC infrastructure data sources along with non-EMC data sources with business logic from your organization in new, meaningful ways.

Business Intelligence for Agile Cloud

Why is this important?

According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms (February 6, 2012), organizations continue to turn to business intelligence (BI) as a vital tool for smarter, more agile, and efficient business. Also, in Gartner’s annual survey of CIO technology priorities, BI and analytics have once again been named the top priority for 2012, a position it has held in three of the last five years.

If you look at cloud computing from an IT management perspective, virtualization and IT transformation is all about achieving greater agility and efficiencies for competitive advantage, regardless of industry, market, or geography. And, since cloud computing extends behind the confines of the four walls of an enterprise, it only makes sense that some of the constructs for manipulating data should take on characteristics emerging on Web portals. For example, with iGoogle, users can build their own homepage, their own view (think, programming for the non-programmer).

Your Window to Being Better Informed

With the release of EMC DataBridge later this year, organizations can provide views into IT operations data tailored to administrators and enable more adept users—power users—with the ability to build their own view. As a result, organizations can now present IT operational data into new, real-time views to make better operational and investment decisions.

The DataBridge software consists of several components. Basically, with little to no programming experience, you can combine data sources within DataBridge studio to create DataBridge widgets which get stored in the DataBridge widget library. To use these widgets, you create personal views in custom DataBridge dashboards to be viewed by launching a web browser.

The DataBridge Artist

How does this DataBridge process work?

DataBridge brings out the artist in the creative technologist empowering even the non-programmer (think, IT generalist, others like the power users) to build tailored IT infrastructure visualizations on the fly.

Let’s look at each component in more detail.

DataBridge studio: This component allows customers with and without programming skills to merge data from EMC and non-EMC sources made available through Excel, CSV or XML files, Web feeds (RSS or Atom), SharePoint lists, web services interfaces (REST or SOAP), or other data sources. Many EMC infrastructure management products including EMC ProSphere, EMC Data Protection Advisor, EMC Unified Infrastructure Manager, EMC Storage Configuration Advisor, EMC IT Operations Intelligence, and the just-announced EMC AppSync now include the EMC Data Access API (EDAA) which is a REST interface. Flowchart-like graphics and visualization wizards make it easy to create widgets; developers with XML, Java, and JavaScript skills can extend DataBridge for even more possibilities. Widgets can be both the end product and building blocks for other higher-order widgets.

The point here is that you have a lot of choices from where to pull your data into DataBridge. It’s also a no-charge offering with a limited number of concurrent seats. While you do have to eventually pay to deploy it, you can definitely play with it for awhile first to see if it meets your needs and mindset.

At least one EMC infrastructure management product must be included in a DataBridge widget for it to run. After all, DataBridge is intended to extend and augment the power of EMC’s infrastructure management portfolio.

DataBridge widgets:  This DataBridge software component refers to those widgets you can purchase (think, mobile application store), as well as those widgets you create.  This enterprise mashup software certainly has the potential to create a very social ecosystem to build and refine a portfolio of widgets from many different sources to address many use cases.   With the initial release, Storage Chargeback and Resource Analysis widgets built with DataBridge studio will be available.

Both DataBridge Storage Chargeback and Resource Analysis merge data from ProSphere, Data Protection Advisor, and customer-supplied data for greater visibility of storage revenue and allocation by tenant, line of business, and application. Customers add their own data like a rate sheet by tenant and by tier for calculating storage chargeback and allocation.

Within Storage Chargeback and Resource Analysis, there are a number of visualizations that users can drag and drop into a dashboard offering different views from either the IT provider or tenant user perspective. Unlike the studio component, pre-packaged DataBridge widgets like Storage Chargeback and Resource Analysis are only available for a fee.

Though initially read only, DataBridge widgets will also enable active management in future releases. All DataBridge widgets are stored in the DataBridge widget library.

DataBridge dashboards: Using a Web browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome), users can first select the desired dashboard layout and then access the widget library to drag and drop DataBridge widgets into this visual framework. Expectations are that users will have more than one customized dashboard once they get into the practice of constructing personalized views on a regular basis.

The Empowered User

Where’s it all going?

It’s fairly obvious that widely-accepted Web—and mobility practices—for presenting data are now being applied to what had been solely back-office enterprise IT functions and that it’s all moved closer to the user. You can combine and extend your IT storage and operations data and functions to truly provide converged infrastructure management of your physical, virtual, and cloud environments.

About the Author: Mark Prahl