What is Remote Data Center Management?

Before COVID-19, you may have been able to get by without remote data center management. Maybe you had an on-site network operations center (NOC), or maybe you were able to get by with plugging your workstation into any server that needed maintenance. Unfortunately, those days are gone.

The state of the industry was already heading in this direction, but now it is nearly impossible to manage your data center without remote access. If you can’t do this, then you risk failing to meet your SLAs, fulfil customer expectations, or enable the productivity of your workforce.

Not only do you need to implement a remote data center management solution, you need to implement a solution that lasts. First, there’s no telling how long social isolation will last, or whether a second wave of COVID-19 will force us all back into our homes. Second, if you go back to in-person data center management after quarantine ends, then your organization will be taking a step back into the past.

Implementing Remote Data Center Management from Fundamentals

The tasks involved in managing a data center break down into four overarching categories:

  1. Performing routine maintenance
  2. Scaling capacity
  3. Vendor management
  4. Troubleshooting

With a successful remote data center management strategy, you will be able to perform all the above tasks without sitting at your desk. Ideally, your solution would be device-agnostic – you’d be able to manage your data center from your phone, laptop, or tablet. You’d also be able to perform these management tasks no matter how your data center is performing. In other words, you’d be able to troubleshoot your data center during periods of unplanned downtime.

Enabling this ability means embracing a concept called out of band management (OOBM). In-band management is management technology that relies on the same communication networks that the data center itself ordinarily relies on–fiber and ethernet, typically. Meanwhile, OOBM requires communicating with the data center using non-standard networks such as cellular data or consumer broadband. Creating this functionality means using specialized tools.

What Tools Do You Need for Remote Data Center Management?

The first tool you’re going to need is what’s known as a console server. This is a server with a larger-than-usual number of serial ports that allows it to be connected to much of your infrastructure – other servers, plus routers and switches. The console server makes the connected devices available via their consoles (like the name suggests). What’s more, administrators can then log into the connected devices remotely using survivable connectivity – cellular modems, commercial broadband – and with methods such as telnet or SSH.

Jump servers are often used in addition to or in place of console servers. These devices are designed to bridge the gap between two networks with differing levels of security. For example, this means that you’d be able to connect a computer behind one firewall, tunnel its connection through the WAN, and connect with your data center behind a second firewall. It’s important to note that jump servers may not have robust embedded security on their own – only use these in conjunction with other security methods.

KVM (Keyboard, Video and Mouse) tools are designed to provide an easy human interface for the remote data center administrator. If you’ve ever used a single computer with multiple monitors, KVM essentially does the reverse, allowing administrators to control multiple computers with a single mouse, keyboard, and monitor setup.

Lastly, you will want a DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) tool. This will vastly supplement the information that you’re able to obtain directly from your console servers and jump servers. While the former allow you to dive deep within servers and diagnose issues,DCIM affirmatively surfaces issues with both your IT equipment and its supporting power and HVAC systems.

New to Remote Data Center Management? D42 Lets you Hit the Ground Running

Here at Device42, we don’t just offer a flagship DCIM product. Since we started as a company, we’ve fielded requests from companies looking to start remote data center management from scratch. What we’ve offered is a vast knowledgebase that allows you to get started with the fundamentals of DCIM and remote data center management, plus a helpful support staff that can answer any of your questions. The best place to begin is simply by trying our product for yourself – so feel free to download our free trial today!