That’s a common question that attendees at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego are asking this week. They are referring to the generation of unified network, server, and storage solutions: Cisco UCS. The answer is: it depends on the state of the UCS.
Quite naturally, the question comes from network engineers – the vast majority of Cisco Live attendees. But system and database professionals – a growing minority at Cisco Live – have the same question on their minds. If Level 1 Operations Center staff were here – the folks who escalate issues they can’t solve to engineers – they’d no doubt ask the same question.
Every innovation in IT infrastructure, like Cisco UCS, requires related innovations in software tools to manage it. Otherwise, the business benefits of the infrastructure innovation would be diminished by the increased complexity, time and cost of managing it.
A “data center in a box” – like the UCS – requires an equivalent network, server and management solution in one screen (i.e., a SPOG or single pane of glass). A SPOG will provide a holistic view of the entire Cisco UCS – and its relationship to the rest of the IT environment.
The idea of a SPOG, a cross-domain/cross-silo manager, is not new. But it certainly is a requirement more than ever because businesses are delivering revenue-generating services over their infrastructure more than ever. Businesses need to manage infrastructure end-to-end in terms of their services than run across them. So think of the SPOG for a data center in a box as a mini-version of an enterprise SPOG. And there’s no reason why a SPOG can’t see both the Cisco UCS and the surrounding environment it lives in. In fact, it should.
A SPOG approach visualizes and analyses the state of network, server and storage components together as well as the root cause of degradations or outages. Adding a fourth dimension to this view – application performance – completes this holistic picture from business impact point of view.
But there really is no “one-SPOG-fits-all” solution for every role at every level in the IT organization. Level 1 Operations staff need a SPOG to look at their IT environment (and the UCS) holistically, but with appropriate detail for their role as first-level responders (i.e., “triagers” and “simple problem-solvers”). Network, systems and database engineers (i.e., technology domain subject matter experts) need a SPOG to solve deep technical issues. So they need a SPOG to look at the infrastructure (and the UCS) in more detail than the Level 1 Staff do.
Businesses really need two kinds of SPOGs appropriate for both audiences.
So who owns the UCS? When Level 1 Operations can solve the problem, they own it. When they can’t, they pass the problem – and the ownership – to the engineer staff. But both levels of the organization need a holistic cross-silo view to do their job.
Who “owns” UCS in your organization? Answer in the comments below or tweet your response to @CAsvcAssur.