What are companies doing to improve their data center monitoring practices?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Data centers lock their doors at night to prevent break-ins. They install video monitoring solutions to scare off potential intruders. But is this enough to protect themselves from cybercriminals?

Unfortunately, it's not.

Decades ago companies didn't have to worry about the threat of cybercriminals. But today cybersecurity must be taken seriously. It needs to be a key component of any company's security plan. After all, businesses have thousands, if not millions, of dollars on the line.

To keep their data well protected, companies often turn to data centers expecting they'll keep their information secure. But how can these data centers guarantee 99.9 percent uptime and security? They must consistently monitor the servers to ensure all potential IT leaks are sealed and that the data is well protected against the latest IT threats.

Here are four ways companies are staying ahead of the curve in data monitoring:

"Today, walking around a data center to conduct ad hoc monitoring is no longer acceptable."



1. Accepting that times have changed
Today, walking around a data center to conduct ad hoc monitoring is no longer acceptable. It's simply impossible to monitor the large influx of data in such a laissez-faire way. For the past several years an array of new technology types have entered the workforce ranging from blade severs (to optimize space) to server virtualization (to improve efficiency), and companies should be taking advantage of them.

2. Knowing about latest technology products
There are many software organizations, hardware companies and service providers that offer data center infrastructure management products, but it's crucial that data centers are able to pick out systems that not only help them run more efficiently but also keep them safe from cybercriminals.

Let's highlight one of those solutions – Cisco's Tetration. Rich Miller, founder and editor of Data Center Frontier, noted that this piece of equipment isn't a traditional DCIM tool because it offers a combination of powerful management features and monitoring elements and analytics that can be used with a data center's existing software.

"There are products in the marketplace that do pieces of this, or have ambitions to do this," said CEO C​huck Robins according to Data Center Frontier. "Many companies, from global giants to inspired startups, have tackled data center visibility with different tools, and they've managed to deliver bits and pieces of the solution. But we believe no one has the comprehensive, end-to-end solution for the data center that we've developed."

When choosing software packages, companies need to look beyond cost and opt for ones that are transparent about how their center is operating. Data centers must take advantage of the latest technology to protect their servers.

"Hardware-based solutions creates challenges because they're expensive to use, scale and keep up with."



3. Understanding the limitations of traditional monitoring
To evolve, you have to accept that traditional monitoring has its limitations. For example, traditional systems typically have limited IT support because outdated systems are housed in various areas of the organization and operated or monitored by different systems. This obviously creates challenges when trying to find a single new solution that monitors multiple devices with disparate practices.

Furthermore, hardware-based solutions creates challenges because they're expensive to use, scale and keep up with as more and more devices are added. Software-based solutions eliminate the need for a protocol converter because they communicate with the hardware device.

4. Anticipating challenges before they arise
Data centers can't run out of storage space. But storage can fill up, especially considering that demand for storage is likely to increase in the coming years as more and more devices are connected to the internet, explained Robert Gates, writing for Search Data Center.

It's vital that data centers anticipate and rectify these storage issues before they occur, otherwise it could present security problems. For example, imagine data centers that run out of room to store data? New information has to go somewhere, and there's a chance it may not be as well protected.

Jim O'Reilly, president and owner of Volanto and writing for TechTarget, explained that companies must also figure out which storage works best for them which includes networked storage, slow Serial Advanced Technology Attachment and fast solid-state drives.

Storage solutions have become more complex, Reilly noted – primary and secondary hard disk drive storage has evolved into bulk SATA and SSDs. Companies that are on the front​ lines of upgrading their existing processes will purchase state-of-the-art monitoring software that foresees storage and other problems (such as those related to security) before they arise.