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Why better infrastructure visibility means better decision-making



Blaine Southam.jpgBy Blaine R. Southam, Senior Software Engineer and HPE OneView Global Dashboard Product Owner

IT departments continually struggle with setting up and maintaining an increasing number of applications and services needed to help drive business revenues. Because of the time it takes to get new applications up and available for use, IT is often seen as “slow to respond.” Requests that seem like they should be done in days can often take weeks to complete. This is because IT departments have to worry about changes in the environment that might start disrupting other existing applications. Add to that the concern about separate management domains, fault domains, resource monitoring, future capacity, current utilization and a host of other concerns, and it is easy to see why the time it takes to roll out new applications can seem to drag.

In today’s dynamic data center environment, visibility of how the infrastructure is performing is vital. CIOs and other IT executives want to see overviews and summaries of the data center's status, including progress toward completion of bigstock-Night-cityscape-focused-in-gla-74753260.jpgbusiness-driven initiatives.  System administrators want to understand the state of their data center via various views and be able to identify problems readily when (and ideally before) they happen. IT operators want to be able to recognize issues, drill-down to isolate them, and then take action.

Solution: HPE OneView Global Dashboard

A new view into the data center, provided by HPE OneView Global Dashboard, helps infrastructure administrators address these concerns and respond faster. HPE OneView Global Dashboard presents an aggregated view across multiple HPE OneView instances to provide instant access to the health status of resources across the enterprise. To achieve that enterprise scale, administrators are now able to view multiple HPE OneView instances not only within a data center, but also across multiple data centers and geographic locations. HPE OneView Global Dashboard provides a rich user experience where there is seamless visualization (reporting), drill-down, and problem resolution.

By using HPE OneView Global Dashboard IT administrators can simplify compliance, view current inventory, quickly understand resource status, automate global reporting and minimize bandwidth. Let’s take a look at each one of these features in more detail.

Simplify compliance                  

Many IT departments struggle to ensure standard compliance and adherence to corporate policy. For example, a business may have standardized on VMware as a virtualization layer on top of HPE DL380 servers. With that, they have defined a standard configuration with a specific version of VMware and certain firmware and drivers to support that version. How can an IT administrator ensure that all ESX hosts in their environment adhere to that standard? It is possible for someone to manually inspect and track compliance; however, that process is time consuming and error prone. The data collection across multiple systems could be automated via scripting and provide a view into the compliance. But how does the administrator ensure that the script is updated to collect data from new systems added to the environment?

Being able to view servers, their expected firmware revisions and the firmware revision those servers are actually running in a simple compliance report is needed. HPE OneView Global Dashboard allows users to quickly see which servers are compliant with the standard and more importantly, which servers are not compliant. This compliance report is readily available for all managed resources in just a few clicks. Once the servers that are not compliant have been identified, administrators can remediate the compliance issue by selecting the appropriate firmware bundles in just two more clicks.


View current inventory

The need to view inventory and generate reports based on that inventory is a common occurrence within an IT organization. Having access to the right types of reports in a timely manager assists IT operations as well as executives in making better business decisions. A manager may view a report to better understand how many servers of a given generation are being used, which is valuable information as a server replacement strategy is determined. A report may also be used to see how many devices are affected by an announced security vulnerability in a given version of firmware.

In many environments, these reports are handcrafted from data present in Excel spreadsheets.  Alternatively, IT administrative staff may invest in creating and maintaining scripts that poll the devices and collect the desired information. Less often, there is a live reporting mechanism to collect, filter, and present the reports in an automated fashion. No matter which way the report is complied, maintaining a current view of the existing inventory is a manual process that is often time-consuming and may not yield the most up-to-date information.

The initial release of HPE OneView Global Dashboard presents several reports that allow the user to easily create these types of reports. Generated reports can be viewed online in a graphical presentation, or the report data is available for download--at which point the user can do additional offline analysis of the data.


Quickly understand resource status

Understanding the state of resources under management is one of the primary tasks of a data center operator. The admin needs to be able to quickly identify any resources that are having issues, drill-down to those resources and begin to diagnose the genesis of the problem. Viewing an integrated status of resources along with how they are associated to other resources and their connectivity can often be difficult and require multiple tools.  Jumping between multiple tools can mean a repeated copy-and-paste of identifiers between the tools in order to drill down to the desired resource.  Multiple tools means multiple places where partial bits of necessary data are located--information that needs to be manual pieced together to get the overall picture. As one can imagine, jumping between these numerous tools leads to frustration.

HPE OneView Global Dashboard collects and aggregates resource details for multiple systems and provides a high level overview of the status of those resources. From the dashboard, admins are able to quickly see if items have critical alerts and drill down to see the associated alert and resource having the issues. Details for the critical alerts are a single click away so that an operator can be begin to respond as soon as problems arise. There is no need to copy the id from one place and then search for that id in another. With one click, HPE OneView Global Dashboard brings the full details with full management ability (assuming the user have sufficient rights) of the desired resource.


Automate global reporting

HPE OneView Global Dashboard provides the capability for global reporting of all managed servers-- including verification of compliance. Admins do not need to write scripts across multiple services to collect information, as HPE OneView Global Dashboard has already collected the data and provides a single point where that information can be viewed or exported for further analysis. When new resources appear under HPE OneView management, those resources will automatically appear in the HPE OneView Global Dashboard. No additional work or configuration necessary; HPE OneView Global Dashboard will immediately start reporting on them. 

Creating reports of various flavors is often useful for providing status to executives for questions like, “How many Gen8 servers do we still have in our Boston data center?” or “How many servers need to be updated to the newest firmware?”  

Many customers I’ve talked to have expressed similar reporting requirements. In discussions with one customer, he said that on a weekly basis they use a “home grown report” that provides an inventory view of servers and firmware details. After being shown the HPE OneView Global Dashboard and the functionality that it provided, they were eager for the product release. He reiterated a common theme I’m hearing as I talk with customers: “This is great, we can now stop generating and maintaining these reports, let HPE OneView Global Dashboard handle it, and we can spend our time on more valuable things”.


Minimize bandwidth consumption

When discussing centralized status, views, and reporting, one area of concern is the bandwidth consumption on the network links between data centers. With many traditional systems, there is direct correlation between having current data and the network bandwidth required to maintain that data.  This is because constant polling of the remote resources is required to maintain current data. Even if there are no changes to the remote resources the centralized management needs to check the remote state to see if anything has changed. Continuous polling is inefficient and uses network bandwidth needlessly; it also doesn’t renew its state until the polling interval has elapsed. The higher the polling frequency, the closer IT can get to real-time updates, but more bandwidth is consumed.  If the polling interval is set low to preserve network bandwidth, then the state of resources is updated infrequently, which leads to slow response times to alerts.

Fortunately, HPE OneView Global Dashboard subscribes to the HPE OneView State Change Message Bus (SCMB) that allows for very efficient notification of changes in the environment. Rather than continuous polling of remote resource states, changes are pushed to the HPE OneView Global Dashboard only when there are changes to the remote environment. This push mechanism eliminates the trade-off of network bandwidth consumption versus real-time updates.

Better information means better decisions

HPE OneView Global Dashboard is a new tool in the data center toolbox that can be used to provide a global view of your infrastructure quickly and easily.  It gives you the ability to surface information about critical resources and alerts, allowing IT staff to identify these resources at a glance from the summary dashboard page.  From there, they are able to quickly navigate to those resources, determine action and begin the corrective process.  I’ve always believed that Information is power--and with HPE OneView Global Dashboard, the information provided helps IT quickly resolve issues and focus on higher value opportunities for the business.

Check out this short, 52 second video on HPE OneView Global Dashboard.


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