Asset Management In The Data Center
Asset management is a system and process that records and tracks all high value assets in an organization. The risk of not properly recording and tracking assets can be expensive. Cloud computing requires asset utilization rates to rise in order to keep costs low. At the same time, facility managers are under pressure to reduce cooling costs. This means that equipment longevity must be more carefully managed than ever before.
Start with an asset management database
The asset management database is where all equipment purchases are recorded. Each record holds the details of one asset and where it is currently held. For large assets such as computer racks, PDUs, and switches they cannot be broken into multiple usable pieces making them easily tracked. However, blade servers and storage arrays can be broken down and the individual components sold, replaced, or used for spares.
Asset tags. At its simplest, an asset tag is just a sticky label using special adhesive that makes it virtually impossible to remove without leaving some form of residue being left behind. Assets tags tend to be large and are not suited to every piece of equipment. To solve this, the current best of breed asset tags use radio chips, RFID, and InfraRed (IR) making it much easier to track assets as they move around the data center.
Innovation solves many problems. New technologies such as near field communication and RFID, already used in credit cards, passports, and medical devices provide a 21st century solution to asset tags. Adapting the technology for a new generation of asset management tags is relatively simple.
Another example of innovation by asset management vendors is using a socket strip down the side of the rack, which talks to a tag on the server. Pressing a button to release the server from the socket strip activates a sensor that records the asset has been moved. When a new device is installed, the sensor is triggered again, interrogates the asset tag, and records the new asset in the rack.
Data center infrastructure management
Cloud providers are moving to fully lights out environments which means they need a coherent solution that combines management information from data center assets and IT systems. One solution in use is a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) system that takes advantage of sensors, hardware, and software to track the state of the data center and the location of assets.
Many companies support the integration of the signalling from a lot of different vendors’ asset management tags into their DCIM products. This makes it easy for users to track assets using existing sensor arrays in the data center such as video security systems. The movement of any high value asset would trigger an alert on a sensor, which could be inserted into the video stream enabling the cloud provider to have an audio, video, and security log record.
Tracking can be integrated with other security options such as biometric aisle and cabinet locking solutions with robust audit and history logs. Integration of asset management alerts ensures an asset can be tracked in time and space far exceeding what other solutions deliver today.
With asset management and DCIM historically owned by different teams in the data center, integration offers a much higher level of security and asset protection because it takes advantage of the existing DCIM sensor grids. It drastically reduces costs by delivering operation teams a single product removing the need for retraining. As a result, teams are up to speed quicker and are less likely to miss key alerts.
Additionally, the ease in tracking hardware that needs to be replaced ensures that cloud vendors can meet service level agreements targets over system uptime.
High value physical assets in the data center must be carefully tracked and recorded to reduce the risk of theft. With cloud providers holding sensitive data from customers on assets that are easily stolen such as SSD drives, they also need to protect the data stored on that asset.
Data center teams can easily extend their existing DCIM solutions to provide asset management protection. Traditional solutions that simply recorded a server, switch, PDU, or even a rack as the key asset are no longer valid. Data is now the most critical asset that must be protected.