Put away your Clipboards – Patch Management Made Easy

Managing a data center is a tough job made harder by all the time and effort required to keep all the infrastructure components patched and up to date.  The process is often manual, time consuming and error prone.  Updating data center infrastructure usually involves the following steps:

Establish a baseline – 10 hours

  1. Walk around the data center with a pen and clipboard and manually record all infrastructure (network, storage, compute, virtualization) component versions
  2. Electronically record the information in a spreadsheet or database
  3. Perform backups to save the current state of all components

Apply patches/updates – 6 hours

  1. Upgrade infrastructure components

Test changes and verify interoperability – 15 hours

  1. Verify all updates have successfully completed
  2. Test for interoperability and confirm no other parts of the infrastructure are negatively impacted
  3. Bring updated components back online
  4. Update spreadsheet or database with the changes applied

VCE Validation with lifecycle assurance, a better way

The upgrade process for data centers that deploy VCE™ Vblock™ Systems is greatly simplified and involves far less time, money and risk.  The life cycle assurance is a key factor that helps differentiate the Vblock System from traditional data center infrastructure by simplifying the patch process.

Vblock Systems are engineered, manufactured, managed, supported and sustained as a single product and are delivered to customers as a complete and fully-integrated solution.  This approach reduces deployment times and increases business agility.  Solutions are delivered within 45 days of ordering and are ready to deploy workloads 48 hours after that.  By controlling the entire infrastructure, VCE is able to produce higher quality and less costly solutions that reduce operational costs and risk.

Release Certification Matrices (RCMs) – A RCM is a VCE-packaged software/firmware release that has been tested, certified and guaranteed for interoperability for all Vblock System infrastructure updates (network, compute, storage, virtualization).  VCE releases two major RCMs per year and minor releases as needed.  RCMs are rigorously tested, validated and optimized by VCE engineers in VCE labs so that customers don’t have to.  VCE engineers work closely with Cisco, EMC and VMware teams to incorporate new functionalities, such as Cisco ACI and EMC XtremIO into Vblock Systems, in a safe and time efficient manner. This helps increase business agility, lower operational costs and reduces risks.

Traditional vs. VCE Patch Management

VCE™ Vision Intelligent OperationsVCE Vision is a VCE-developed software product that sits between Vblock Systems and third-party management frameworks.  It includes intelligent discovery, validation, logging and alerting and an open API.  This unique functionality enables customers to preserve their investments in existing management frameworks while leveraging unique capabilities, such as discovery and validation.  VCE Vision can discover every Vblock System infrastructure component automatically and then compare that baseline against an RCM level for compliance scanning.  This process is fully automated and available through the VMware vCenter plugin.

Taking into account the information above, the steps for upgrading a Vblock System environment now looks like:

Establish a baseline – 5 minutes

  1. Use the discovery functionality of VCE Vision software to automatically document what is running on the Vblock System today

Apply patches/changes – 2 – 8 hours

  1. Install the RCM package on the Vblock System

Test changes and verify interoperability – 10 minutes

  1. Run a compliance scan using the natively integrated VCE Vision plug-in for VMware vCenter and review the results to verify compatibility

By implementing the built-in functionality of Vblock Systems the time to deploy upgrades and patches is significantly reduced, business agility is increased, TCO is lowered and risk and downtime are minimized.

Put away those clipboards and say hi to a new a better way of operating data center infrastructure.

About the Author: Gregory Lyon