Data centers today are transforming from a traditional, distributed infrastructure to a consolidated, and service-oriented structure. Whether growing to support high-bandwidth services or shrinking and centralizing systems, data centers are in a constant state of change. In Data Centers that are growing, servers are being virtualized and 40 Gigabit links are being installed to support consolidation of bandwidth hungry applications, which drive up the cost of network interfaces and put greater demands on the cabling infrastructure.

IT Budgets are constantly being squeezed, putting pressure on engineers to get the most out of every switch, router, server, or hypervisor that is already implemented, in addition to consolidating resources and reducing power consumption. In some cases, services are being outsourced to cloud providers where they provide critical support to worldwide users. These changes must be made seamlessly with minimal downtime to production business applications and must result in increased performance to the overall system.

Data Center Troubleshooting

Engineers

The increase in complexity of data center infrastructure drives the need for higher skill sets of both server and network engineers. As systems become more virtualized and integrated, the lines between these roles blur, requiring a server administrator to learn about VLAN tagging, while the network engineer is involved in configuring virtual switches on a virtual platform. With massive amounts of data flying through links in the data center, application performance problems become more difficult to isolate and resolve, and finding the root cause can be like finding a needle in the haystack, especially for problems that have occurred in the past. Making sense of terabytes worth of packet captures and filtering for a root cause can be overwhelming. Therefore, cost savings and efficiency are often worth the risk of outsourcing these services. On the other hand, when IT departments outsource services to a cloud service provider, detailed visibility and security control within these systems can be lost, requiring engineers to be responsible for a system they cannot manage.

Key Considerations

As business systems and applications are consolidated and streamlined, it is critical that IT organizations fully understand application dependencies and the impacts of server migration. Ensuring high performance and security in these complex systems requires monitoring and analysis systems which track client transactions and server response, while watching for intrusion threats and compromised systems. Despite an unprecedented level of traffic over 40GbE links, IT organizations must keep a handle on what traffic is going where, as well as have the ability to track issues that have occurred in the past. IT budgets of today must allow for these monitoring and analysis systems to keep step with new technologies and higher traffic levels, no longer considering them to be optional. Even when business services have been outsourced to the cloud, technicians and engineers must still be able to monitor application performance and client experience.

Data Center Best Practices

As high speed links and high performance applications are brought up in the Data Center, monitoring systems need to be included in the planning and installation phase so that these are ready to monitor user activity when these systems go live. These should include taps and aggregation switches on key links which will direct traffic to high capacity packet capture appliances, allowing for back-in-time problem analysis on critical applications. SNMP and flow-based monitoring should be utilized on infrastructure devices to track link usage and device health, and application analysis tools should be in place to monitor for degraded performance.

Network Technicians also require analysis tools which can test and track the performance of cloud services, in addition to on-site applications. On the cable side of the data center, as systems are upgraded and expanded, it is paramount to ensure that the infrastructure cabling can still support increased traffic loads and new high speed links. It is smart to certify these cables even if they are factory terminated and unwrapped onsite. The best enterprise network operators don't rely 100% on outsourcing cable testing to cabling contractors . The acquire the tools and knowledge to perform testing in-house.

 

Data Center Solutions

 

Today’s networks are in a constant state of evolution. Infrastructure expansion plus deployment of new technologies provides ongoing challenges for network professionals. With the right solutions, more of the team can solve issues faster and with less frustration.

Fluke Networks’ family of products were designed to do just that. Moves, adds and changes as well as complex troubleshooting tasks are sped up with the use of these solutions.

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Data Center Resources

Fluke Networks provides many resources to help our customers solve (Data Center Solutions and Resources) challenges. Some require a simple registration. See a complete listing of webcasts, white papers and application notes for other topics.

Whitepapers:

2012 Application & Delivery Handbook
"As we enter the next era of Application Delivery, leading IT organizations must focus on improving their ability to ensure acceptable application and service delivery.
Throughout this 5 part handbook, Ashton, Metzler and Associates looks at how to ensure applications and services that an enterprise uses can be effectively managed, exhibit acceptable performance, incorporate appropriate levels of security and are cost effective."
Ensuring the success of data center consolidation over the long haul
 
Managing Virtualization within Data Center Consolidation
 

 

Videos:

Solving Network and Application Performance Issues Faster
Find out how one tool solves performance problems faster. Investigate, Isolate, Identify Root Cause and collaborate. See a demonstration of this dedicated tablet for automated network and application analysis.
Ensuring Performance in a Changing Data Center
In this video, we will look at how to ensure high performance of business critical applications in a constantly changing data center. It's true that change is constant in today's core data centers, with upgrades to network links, installation of new applications, and consolidation of key systems happening every day. The OptiView XG is critical to engineers to ensure that theData Center is ready through all stages of a project lifecycle.

 

Webcasts:

Data Center Challenge – Troubleshooting in the Core
In this webcast we cover the challenges faced when analyzing the core of the network, where to monitor and how to isolate and troubleshoot problems that are typically encountered.
Ensuring Performance in a Changing Data Center
"In this webcast, we look at how to ensure high performance of business critical applications in a constantly changing data center.
It's true that change is constant in today's core data centers, with upgrades to network links, installation of new applications, and consolidation of key systems happening every day."
Quantifying the Impact of Application Issues
"Many organizations tend to misunderstand, underestimate, or are unable to quantify the impact of application issues, on their organization. But when you look at the combination of potential customer, employee and organizational impact, the actual cost can be staggering.
Join EMA analyst Julie Craig and Visual Network Systems Product Manager David Oliver, as we explore why organizations approach troubleshooting application problems the way they do today."