Managing the IT Infrastructure

In Search of the Holy Grail (and avoiding the killer rabbit)


In this post, I’m going to be writing about a solution from HPE to help improve the management of IT Infrastructure. First, I want to say that I have come to understand the term “IT Infrastructure” can be used very broadly, depending on the perspective of the Speaker or Writer and their audience. So, before I get started, let me define what the term means for me.


When I talk about IT Infrastructure components, I am referring to the hardware and software that provide the foundation for Applications supporting the line of business. The Business Applications will include email, document management, ERP and CRM Systems, etc. The foundational components that support these applications include Compute, Storage, and Networking hardware as well as Operating Systems and Hypervisors. In my mind, these foundational pieces are the IT Infrastructure.


Managing Can be a Challenge


Management of IT Infrastructure has long been a challenge for Systems Administrators. Once we moved past the mainframe dominated environment, to a distributed architecture, the number of devices and operating environments (operating systems and hypervisors) grew very quickly. Each component of an IT Infrastructure requires configuration, management, and monitoring (for alerts, performance, capacity, etc.) Of course, each device and operating environment comes with their own management and monitoring tools, but, because of the disparate toolset, the burden of correlating the information from each of these sources falls on the shoulders of Systems Administrators. This task of monitoring and correlating data from our IT Infrastructure can be incredibly time consuming. And, because our days are often filled with the unexpected, it is difficult to be consistent in our execution of the monitoring/correlation tasks.


To help ease this burden, the industry has seen the introduction of many applications over the years, designed to aggregate alerts and performance metrics. These tools certainly help, but they can often fall short.


What do we do with the information they are presenting to us?


How do we make sense of the data?


Can these tools help us understand trends in utilization, predict resource short-falls, proactively warn of component failures?


And, can they provide any correlation in the context of analytics data collected from thousands of similar environments from around the world?



That would be the Holy Grail of IT Management. Wouldn’t it?


IT Holy Grail


Okay, a mid-post pause. My reference to the Holy Grail (and the killer rabbit) is from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I only used it here because some of my Zunesis Colleagues have written posts using various movie references and I felt the need to respond with my own. I’m older than many of my colleagues so my reference may be a little more dated. However, I think the movie is iconic and will still be familiar to most.

Okay, now back to the discussion of IT Management and the challenges we face. To borrow a phrase from Monty Python, “…and now, for something completely different…”.


HPE InfoSight


In April of 2017, HPE completed the acquisition of Nimble Storage. This acquisition introduced a great storage solution into the HPE Storage family, but, one of the biggest drivers for this acquisition was InfoSight Predictive Analytics. At the time, InfoSight collected data from thousands of sensors across all deployed Nimble arrays globally. This data was fed into an analytics engine allowing global visibility and learning to provide predictive problem resolution back to each Nimble user. The analytics allowed many problems to be resolved, non-disruptively, sometimes before the end-user knew it was a problem.


So, in addition to providing localized alerting, phone-home support, performance data, resource trending, System Administrators now had a tool that could act on their behalf and provide correlations that wouldn’t be possible without the global context.


At the time of the acquisition, HPE committed to leveraging InfoSight for other HPE solutions over time. They have been honoring that commitment ever since. Very quickly they included InfoSight support for 3PAR StorServ, StoreOnce, and RMC. These were in addition to the existing support for Nimble Arrays and VMware.


As of January 7th of 2019, HPE officially included support for Gen 10, 9, and 8 ProLiant Servers, Synergy, and the Apollo Server families. This recent announcement means that many key components of the IT Infrastructure are now part of the InfoSight Predictive Analytics environment.



For HPE storage solutions, HPE InfoSight Predictive Analytics answers questions like:


  • How has my data usage trended?
  • When am I going to run out of capacity?
  • What if I ran these apps… on the same array?


For the newly announced HPE Server environment HPE will provide:


  • Predictive analytics to predict and prevent problems
    • data analytics for server security
    • predictive data analytics for parts failure
  • Global learning that provides wellness and performance dashboards for your global inventory of servers
    • global inventory of servers
  • A recommendation engine to eliminate performance bottlenecks on servers


For VMware environments, InfoSight Cross-stack Analytics identifies:


  • Noisy Neighbor
  • Inactive VMs
  • Latency Attribution – identify root cause across host, storage, or SAN
  • Top Performing VMs – Visibility into Top 10 VMs by IOPS and Latency


Benefits of InfoSight


Based on an ESG Report titled, “Assessing the Financial Impact of HPE InfoSight Predictive Analytics, published in September 2017, InfoSight provided the following benefits based on a survey of nearly 500 users:


  • 79% lower IT operational expenses.
  • 73% fewer trouble tickets in the environment.
  • 85% less time spent resolving storage-related trouble tickets.
  • 69% faster time to resolution for events that necessitate level 3 support.
  • The ability to manage and troubleshoot the entire infrastructure environment from a single, intelligent platform.


HPE InfoSight is an application of AI that is here today and will continue to grow in the IT Infrastructure components it supports as well as the benefits it provides. If you have an HPE environment today, you’ll want to find out if HPE InfoSight can be leveraged to help you better manage your IT Infrastructure.


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