Intelligent Data Centres Issue 3 - Page 62

Distributed networks throw up challenges for infrastructure managers due to their vulnerability to service interruptions. Here, Alan Stewart- Brown, VP Sales EMEA at Opengear, discusses how out-of-band management reduces mean time to repair (MTTR) in distributed IT environments. here are my devices located? The wave of transformation brought about by digitisation, the Internet of Things and increasingly decentralised hardware landscapes and systems brings new challenges for IT departments. W They have to manage distributed network environments for branches, production sites and private clouds in order to maintain permanent connectivity and avoid the consequential costs of network downtime. Today this is almost always handled centrally from the data centre at company headquarters. But the problem is – if the primary network (‘in band’) fails or Internet connectivity is not ensured by the service provider, the limits of standard remote maintenance are quickly reached. In the legacy world, this would mean a technician has to go on site. And the technician on site may find that resolving the problem, for example, could range from a simple reboot to having to order a replacement device. The modern alternative is ‘out-of-band’ management. Independent of the function and connectivity of the local network, it ensures that companies can connect to their IT hardware at all times, test to see if the issue can be resolved remotely and so build resiliency into IT and ultimately reduce downtime. But let’s take this from the bottom up: branches extend the reach of a company and new sites are normally a sign that business is going well. It is obvious that remote IT infrastructures place a significantly higher burden and bring added responsibility for network administrators. The IT department has to ensure that infrastructures, including network devices such as routers, switches, WAN optimisation solutions, firewalls and all distributed applications and servers, are installed and maintained correctly. It has to integrate remote devices in the central network management, authentication, authorisation and accounting systems to ensure quality management and security. It is in the nature of things that a distributed network has more weak points and so is more susceptible to interruptions to services. And only very large branches will have an IT expert on site. But in times where distributed corporate networks are connected to mission-critical data and services via the cloud, the costs of a network failure can also be huge for a shop or a small sales office. Failure of the primary network: When in-band tools fail With centralised monitoring and remote access to distributed resources, today administrators in many organisations are capable of managing dozens or even hundreds of sites efficiently. In-band tools such as Telnet (teletype network) are Cultivating long-distance relationships 62 Issue 02 03