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The Challenge of IT Infrastructure Resource Management

Part five in a series. Greg Schulz is the founder of StorageIO and the author of The Green and Virtual Data Center.

Leveraging various tools, technologies, and techniques to address various pain points and business challenges is key to enabling a green and virtual data center. Best practices, people, processes, and procedures combine with technology tools, hardware, software, networks, services, and facilities to enable a virtual data center. It is important to understand how all these elements coupled with existing and emerging technologies can be applied to improve IT service delivery in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. All of this together allows the data center to meet service level requirements while sustaining business growth.

Infrastructure resource management (IRM) is the collective term that describes the best practices, processes, procedures, and technology tools to manage IT data center resources. IRM has a focus across multiple technology domains (applications, servers, networking, storage, and facilities) to address effective and maximum resource usage to deliver a given level of application service or functionality. IRM focuses on processes, procedures, hardware, and software tools that facilitate application and data management tasks. Although there can be areas of overlap, the aim of IRM is to deliver application services and information to meet business service requirement objectives while addressing performance, availability, capacity, and energy (PACE) and power, cooling, floor space, and environmental (PCFE) requirements in a cost-effective manner.

Common IRM activities involved with provisioning and managing IT resources include change control and configuration management, such as making updates to business continuity and disaster recovery plans and documents, or validation of configuration settings to avoid errors. Other change control- and configuration management-related tasks include notification of changes and interdependencies to various systems or IT resources, fallback and contingency planning, maintaining templates, blueprints, run-books, and guides for configuration, as well as change and configuration testing and coverage analysis.

Another IRM task involves configuration of physical resources, including server and operating system or virtual machine setup, networking and I/O configuration, storage system RAID, data protection, and security along with storage allocation, including logical unit number (LUN) creation, mapping, and masking. Other configuration and resource allocation IRM activities include ongoing physical and virtual software patch and update management, high availability and failover configuration, network zoning, routing, and related security tasks as well as cabling and cable management.

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