Galen The IT industry has made huge strides in software for change & configuration management, business service management, and IT process automation. Yet your data center facilities are probably living in the dark ages. For years, IT has been mapping out business services and mapping the underlying applications to the infrastructure it depends on. But the details never seem to go any further than the server level. I’m fairly certain that no one can tell you the racks, power circuits, or generators that a particular application depends on. And you can forget about managing applications’ power consumption – there’s no control past the UPS or PDU level.

The recent acquisition of Aperture by Emerson is noteworthy because it shows that the power and cooling giants are finally stirring in their lairs. Likewise, Emerson’s competitor Schneider Electric (through the better-known APC) has been building its own software portfolio focused on data center management for some time. Until recently, power and cooling vendors have been focused their limited software offerings on controlling their own infrastructure. But that’s changing — now they’re shipping tools that can tell you the best location for that next rack of servers, or if you’ve already over-committed your physical infrastructure. There’s little competition from systems vendors like IBM and HP today, but it remains to be seen if Emerson and Schneider’s will become middleware providers or a direct competitors.

Today’s management tools from Emerson and Schneider provide good visibility and automation of the physical world within your data center, but application-to-circuit visibility is still a few years away. It will take that long to forge the kind of standards and integration that would let Tivoli or OpenView power down parts of the data center or redistribute critical apps in a failure scenario. Coupled with healthy competition and innovation, we think that industry consortiums like The Green Grid will significantly speed up the integration process by fostering early standards. We hope – it took almost eight years for the data center automation market to progress from startups like Opsware into (mostly) integrated management suites.

By Galen Schreck

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