Server systems have become much easier to manage in recent years. Problem is, there are just too darn many of them.
“In today’s business world of fiscal responsibility and efficiency demands, enterprises can no longer afford to scale their IT workforce in step with their growing infrastructure and data center systems,” says David Joy, a Firmware Development Manager for HP.
Joy explains that IT teams are being challenged to cut costs while enhancing infrastructure. They must maintain service levels, support branch office systems, deliver new services, implement more capacity and take advantage of virtualization—while controlling cost and headcount.
“There are only so many servers an individual can configure, deploy and monitor,” says Joy.
Enterprises have three options as they grow their infrastructure: accept the cost of additional human resources; face the risks of understaffing; or find tools to help with server management. Because increasing cost or risk isn’t an option, Joy recommends software tools that provide infrastructure management relief.
He points to HP Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) remote management software, which streamlines and automates many of the standard processes associated with server configuration, deployment and monitoring. iLO comes standard with HP ProLiant server systems, and customers have a number of licensing options for upgrading the software. HP iLO Advanced Pack, the no-installation upgrade to basic iLO functionality, adds a graphical remote console, automatic video recordings of the last fault sequence, virtual media and folders, and more.
“iLO is like a little robot for managing ProLiant servers,” Joy explains. “Not only can routine deployment and maintenance tasks be performed remotely, but they can be fully automated via scripting. It eliminates the need to physically configure and reboot servers.”
Server health check
iLO also monitors and reports the health of server systems, finding inefficiencies related to power and availability, and identifying problems before they impact performance. iLO Advanced can also improve power management by controlling low power idle states and limiting power consumption.
“iLO gives each server a ‘personality’ that identifies its name, operating system, disk array access, network configuration, etcetera,” says Joy. “Any of these personality traits can be changed quickly, easily and remotely, which can be a real boon to virtualization efforts.”
Community Medical Centers, for example, began its virtualization strategy in 2005. The large Fresno, California-based hospital system wanted simpler administration and configuration of its storage infrastructure, easier, more accurate capacity planning and ample storage capacity to sustain 30 percent annual data growth. The company selected HP to provide the bulk of its IT infrastructure, including servers, software and storage solutions.
More efficient, less costly
“It used to take a couple of weeks to procure a server, generate a purchase requisition, get it ordered and racked. Virtualization allows us to respond much faster to business needs,” says Richard Cummins, Director of Technology Services at Community Medical Centers. “Now we can respond the same day.”
Standardizing on HP servers and software has cut the hospital’s server administration time by 75 percent, according to Cummins, by making tasks simpler and more predictable. This also means that administration tasks can be performed by less experienced IT staffers, thus freeing up higher-level engineers for more strategic projects.