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Data Center Management Tools Gone Wild

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Data center management is painful enough without the pain of maintaining multiple tools. You have one tool for inventory, one tool for monitoring, one tool for storage and another tool for the network. You also have at least one tool for capacity planning. None of those tools handle virtual systems, so lather, rinse, repeat on the number of tools you required manage everything. How many tools does it take to effectively manage your physical systems, virtual systems, network, storage, capacity and monitoring?

Using multiple data center management tools is not only annoying and troublesome, it’s also expensive. But, those winds are changing–changing to those of the solar variety.

One. One unified tool that does everything, does it well and does it affordably. One such tool that can do this is the Orion Enterprise Operations Console from SolarWinds.

Your data center doesn’t have to be a “black box” that only the tech folks understand. With access to a web browser, you can see a wide-angle view of your entire worldwide network. But, you don’t have to fly over your network at 37,000 feet, you can zoom in for a system-specific view, too.

Show Us Your Stats

When you first check out the Enterprise Console, you’ll see a grand summary of your entire network. You’ll also see the trouble spots on your network that use standard yellow icons for trouble and red icons for outage conditions. Just beneath the overview of the initial page, it’s easy to mesmerize yourself in the various Top 10 Summary pages that tell you at a glance which of your systems, physical and virtual, consume the most storage, network, CPU and memory resources. The statistics collect and update in real time.

Beyond the usual statistics, you’ll see a qualitative trend analysis (increasing or decreasing) for each resource measured. This provides you with a quick assessment of how an individual system current perceives its current resource usage. Additionally, you can view historic trends and performance information up to one year in the past for any system or device.

End-to-End View

The Enterprise Console doesn’t leave you hanging on applications. You have a full telescoping view into them from the user to the application and back to the user. This round-trip perspective allows you to see the application’s performance from the user’s perspective. You’ll see your applications as the user sees them through the eyes of an objective and agentless observer: The SolarWinds data collection engine.

There’s an added bonus to the extreme view you have with the Enterprise Console: Configuration and device management. You can download, edit and upload a router configuration from the Console’s Network Configuration Management add-on. You can also make bulk changes, manage PCI compliance, backup configurations, rollback changes, upgrade firmware and update IOS.

What Happens in the Data Center?

You can’t keep any secrets from the Orion Enterprise Console. It’s all out in the open for everyone to see. From badly programmed, memory-clogging Java applications to disk-gobbling databases, you’ll see it all. If you think you’re storing a little too much junk in your trunk, the Enterprise Console can help there, too. The Storage Profiler keeps you abreast of explicitly mapped storage. You’ll know which systems hoard your valuable storage and which ones are close to failure due to overcrowded filesystems. From a top 10 disk usage summary down to what kind of files burn up the most disk space, the Storage Profiler will likely be a valuable essential add-on to your total enterprise management system.

SolarWind’s Enterprise Console and its modular design is the kind of tool that system administrators, network administrators and operations staff need to have a true in-depth view of the data center and all of its components. If your network is very large, it might be the only way to see the entire operation and assess its health with a single dashboard.

For all its positive attributes, the Orion Console and add-on modules lack one important piece of the puzzle that would, as an add-on, make the product an absolutely must-have: A Security Module. To follow in the SolarWind’s multi-faceted module style, the Security Manager needs an LDAP add-on, a network scanner, patch management and a system security probe.

But, even without the Security module wish list, this product is a highly desirable data center management tool. If you have Internet connectivity, you can keep track of exactly what’s happening anywhere in your network. So, the next time you plan that outrageous trip to the beach, take your laptop along to make sure your network behaves while you’re away.

Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which was published in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at

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