June 19, 2013

5 Data Center Network Management Tips from "The Breakfast Club"

I’m currently on a train heading to a salesforce.com security advisory meeting and really should be working, instead I’m spacing out watching one of my favorite movies, “The Breakfast Club”. I could turn off the movie and work on something useful, instead though I decided to combine my distraction with work and make this blog post the top 5 network management tips from the movie….

1.  Visibility matters. The principal has a lot of trouble with the students because he doesn’t have visibility into what is going on. Network managers often times have the same problem. If you can’t tell what’s going on, you can’t react to events. The ability to see every conversation on the network will ensure that you know when things aren’t working right or are ready to go south.

2.  Everyone has a different perspective. Emilio Estevez, the jock, sees things entirely different than Judd Nelson, the rebel. Users have the same thing. Sometimes performance may seem fine when we test it using “ping” but when someone uses a transaction based application even a small increase in latency can make a huge difference. In some cases different applications may take an entirely different path than a ping. The ability to know which way the users application traffic goes is key to effectively troubleshooting

3.   When we all work together, life is better. If you haven’t seen the movie, then spoiler alert…. By the end of the day the kids learn to work together and actually start enjoying each other’s differences. Well enjoying may be a stretch, but at least working together. When different groups work together, like server, storage and network administrators, IT works better too. One of the great features of OneFabric Data center manager is the ability to bring all the infrastructure teams together. The person managing the hypervisors, or servers can see the same screens as the network engineers which avoids finger pointing and duplication of efforts.

4.  Controls need to be technically enforced. John Bender is put in solitary after he gets caught running through the hallways and playing basketball when he shouldn’t be. Unfortunately though he was told to stay, it wasn’t technically enforced and he was able to climb out of the room and back to his peers. Many times procedures are not enforced and steps can get skipped. I once had a server go online, before the backups were configured on it which caused data loss. We had a procedure to setup and test backups before letting something go online but without technical controls we skipped this critical step. Technical enforcement by giving the server a restrictive role stops this from happening any more, but many data centers lack this level of control.

5.  “Without lamps there’d be no light”.. and without the network there would be no applications. Infrastructure is often overlooked as not strategic but without the network nothing else works. No email, no ERP, no new development etc. CIO’s need to be strategic but without IT running smoothly, the time with the executive team or Board will be spent discussing outages, performance or costs and not on key business initiatives. It’s critical to make sure that CIO’s are seen as having their shop in order, before they will ever be allowed to help influence other more strategic areas.

The last thing I realized, I’ve seen this movie a lot. I’m pretty sure without the volume I can quote each scene…

I’m almost in NYC now and feel like I actually did accomplish something on this ride and got to relive a part of my childhood at the same time.

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Extreme Marketing Team

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