Your pager goes off and wakes you at 4:00 AM to let you know that the power is back on at the office, and you think, “Oh Great.” You look out the window and see the ground covered with snow as you fire up the home computer to see if you can send an e-mail - nothing. The drive to the office is quicker than usual, because there’s no traffic. It’s dark as you walk down the hall past the empty cubes, swipe your security card past the reader and open the big steel door. Ah, the familiar sound of cooling fans as you flip on the lights and walk to one of the many computer racks in the room. You jiggle the mouse in front of the console, and it lights up with a blue screen and a half booted system. The only option is to hit the power button.
That memory ran through my head during one of the recent ESG Lab projects I was involved in. I was thinking how rare it is for the computer equipment an administrator manages to be in the same office they work in these days - or even the same state, for that matter. We were testing a solution that paired NEC blade servers and storage with PAN Manager software from Egenera at the time.
PAN Manager is a system management software package that integrates server, network, and storage resources, and automatically keeps applications running despite demand spikes, failures, or site disasters. Its foundation is based on I/O virtualization, a stateless environment that eliminates the need to manually ensure compatibility with hardware versions, firmware, etc., and an intelligent fabric.
What this means is that it leverages and manages the boot-from-SAN capabilities that the NEC SIGMA Blade server and M-Series storage offer to create server images (physical or virtual) that live on shared storage and can be moved around the infrastructure to any available server blade. It provides local or remote administrators with the ability to create pools of resources, add and boot new blades, or move server profiles to a hot standby blade when necessary. When hardware is added or replaced it provides mechanisms that ensure hardware and firmware compatibility.
Business has never been more dynamic than today. Pressured by rigorous user demands, budget restraints, and expectations of 24-hour productivity, IT organizations often struggle to achieve their objectives. The combined NEC/Egenera solution can bring real relief, helping IT to keep applications up and running with minimal management, and gain a greater return on their infrastructure investments.
If this technology had been available when I was wearing a system administrator’s hat I would have connected remotely, made sure things were running OK, and I suspect I would have started many more of my days with a fresh brewed cup of coffee at a reasonable hour instead of watching the parking lot fill while drinking a barely tolerable cup from a vending machine.
To learn more about how NEC and Egenera can automate and simplify data center management read the full report.