by July 5, 2008 0 comments

One significant trend in data centers is that of remote management. This
reduces chances of human error, which is a major cause of downtime in data
centers. Plus, remote management also reduces security risks, as fewer people
are allowed entry into the data center. Today there are tools that will allow
you to manage just about every aspect of a data center remotely, from anywhere
in the world over the Internet. So for instance, you’ll find tools to monitor
and manage the power being supplied to all the data center equipment. There are
tools for managing and provisioning servers, tools to manage the network and
storage infrastructure like switches, NAS, SAN, etc. Besides these, there are
even tools that let you design your data center. A major contributor in many of
the remote data center management tools are web 2.0 technologies. In this
article, we’ll look at some of these tools and how you can use them to manage
your data center.

Data Center Design
Tool: Design Intent Tool version 1.2 Having a blue print in hand before
actually implementing a plan is always a more efficient approach than doing
things directly. So, we will start with a planning tool that helps in creating
an actual design of a data center. Design intent not only helps in managing the
design of a data center, but it also helps in managing its future expansion and
renovation. Using this tool one can document all the necessary information about
data center development life cycle like maximum energy consumption, future
server types, and key focus areas.

You can download this tool from

Installation of this tool is simple, and requires MS Office as a
pre-requisite. The tool’s functionality is divided into three steps. First step
involves the Owner or the Coordinator, who has to fill up all the information
about the goal of the project (data center development in our case) and other
project related information like number of people associated with the project,
timeline, etc. This is done by filling up ‘Owner’s Goals & ‘Project Info’ and
‘Team Contact Info’ Tabs. In the second step, your design team develops the
projects ‘Design Intent Document’ Tab by editing Design Area, Objectives,
Strategies and Metrics. This is the stage where main focus while
developing/renovating a data center is elaborated along with strategies to
achieve it. Design Intent document is then finalized with input from
stakeholders. Once the blueprint or the documentation on the project is ready
you can generate reports from this tool for analysis based on the inputs and
conditions you provide.

This is simple interface of
Design Intent Tool 1.2, one can document data center related design
specification in it for future reference. One can also generate reports from
this tool

Power Management
IBM Active Energy Manager ‘GREEN’ is the buzzword in the IT industry
and data centers today are actively looking at ways of going green. To decrease
the energy consumption and plug the power leaks, an efficient and easy to
implement energy management mechanism should be in place. Active Energy Manager
is a tool that is used to measure, monitor and manage energy consumption built
into IBM systems. Non IBM systems can also be managed with PDU+ support making
this tool more generic. This tool can be downloaded from
Its installable file is 171 MB and is available for a 60 days trial. We
installed it on an IBM Server. Once installed, it shows all supported machines
as managed objects. After installation you have to log on to the ‘IBM Director
Control’ to use Active Energy Manager. The front end of this tool can also be
accessed over the network. As a security feature login details can be encrypted
using SSL.

To use the energy management option one has to assign related task (‘Active
Energy Manager’) to managed objects. To assign a task to the managed device,
start by selecting the supported managed object and then click on the last tool
in toolbar. You’ll get different options for power management available like 25%
power cap, maximum power cap, etc. Select an option according to your need and
it will generate a report for that machine.

This is the interface of ‘IBM
Director Console’ to add a task drag managed object to ‘Tasks’ pans or click
last icon in toolbar

Besides energy management, IBM Embedded Director Console also contains other
features like managing energy capacity, planning, etc. Active Energy Manager
helps in better understanding of energy usage that in turn helps in better
management of energy and cost related to it.

Physical and Virtual Server Management
Tool: OpenQRM
With virtualization coming into data centers in a big way, it’s becoming
more difficult to manage a mix of physical and virtual servers. OpenQRM is an
Open Source server management software that can easily manage both physical and
virtual servers in a data center. It provides automatic failover for servers and
dynamically adjusts the amount of allocated servers depending on actual usage.
This tool of 115 MB can be downloaded from http: //www.
html. OpenQRM has a plug-in based architecture, which means more functionality
would be added to it in future. With openQRM one can build a booting environment
that works for different hardware. Therefore openQRM takes care of hardware
dependencies. We booted our machine with openQRN image. To create new virtual
environment click on ‘New Virtual Environment’ and then give a name to it.
Select kernel image using ‘edit’ tab and file system. For provisioning your
server, click on ‘Provisioning and Policy’ tab. Here one can define the number
of nodes and amount of maximum load on each node. Once all the configurations
are done save this virtual environment.

This is the interface of openQRM
to create a new virtual environment. Click on ‘New Virtual Envornment’ and
then choose the kernel image


OpenNMS dashboard facilatates
you to monitor all the nodes in your datacenter and notifies if any failure

Network and Services Monitoring
Tool: OpenNMS
When it comes to Monitoring your network and groups of devices on it, then
one really good Open Source software that comes to mind is OpenNMS. It is a
Linux based network resource monitoring software that let’s you track the
performance of a group of network devices and services on your network such as
MySQL, Apache, FTP, SSH, etc. It is capable of SNMP service polling, data
collection, notification and event management. Deploying OpenNMS is not an easy
job and can take a good amount of time. You can download a copy of the software
from It can be installed on any system that supports Java and
has Tomcat Application server pre-installed. While installing the solution you
might get a lot of dependency errors. To avoid those, you can also opt for a
ready made OpenNMS virtual appliance. It’s available for VMware can be deployed
within minutes. Once you’ve installed it or run the virtual appliance, you can
access it from any machine on the network using a web browser. You simply have
to type http://: 8080/ opennms/. By default, the username
and password are both ‘admin’. As you login, you can see the dashboard of
OpenNMS which shows you all servers connected to your network and the services
running on each. Before you type the URL, state the IP range of your network in
the ‘discovery-configuration.xml’, and then start the Tomcat and OpenNMS
services. This tool sends alerts via email to the concerned person and if the
issue in not resolved, another email is generated and sent across to a higher
authority. For this go to ‘Admin’ menu, select ‘Configuration path’ and click on
‘New path’. Give a meaningful name for notification and click on ‘Edit’ button.
A new window will appear, click on the ‘Address’ button and provide the email
address where you want to receive the alerts and proceed.

Remote Access
Tools: PHPShell, Putty, App streaming in Longhorn
There are tools like ‘Putty’ using which you can connect to any machine
across the globe that has SSH or Telnet enabled. There is one more interesting
tool called ‘phpshell’, which provide you shell access over a web browser. This
helps if SSH is disabled on a system or has been blocked by the firewall. You
can also stream an application that is specific to your requirements from the
server to your desktop. This application stream can be done using SSH on any
Linux Box whereas Windows makes use of Terminal server. If you want to try out
this on Windows then you can find this feature in Windows Longhorn and for Linux
on any Linux distro. We have done many articles on remote access tools, so we’ll
not get into how to use them here. Check out the links to those articles given
in the box below.

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