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Data center mapping, server tags offer easy monitoring and management

Efficient virtualization management is often a struggle, but new data center mapping technology could be the innovative solution admins need.

Even in an era of consolidation, data center management is not cut-and-dried. IT admins can manage vast server farms from a desk, but in many cases data centers are still rooms or buildings full of servers. With this in mind, data center mapping and server tags could offer IT admins some much needed management support.

A technology called vSight, part of VMware’s advanced development program, would let a data center manager tag servers with an identifier—be it a QR code, a radio code or another type of asset tag—then map those servers and their locations with a mobile app. Users could also choose which features to track on each server, such as temperature, health or drive failures.

It’s physical management, and a way to navigate a data center. “It’s like a live map of the physical assets of the data center,” said Sean Borman, director of innovation in the Office of the CTO at VMware.

Any type of optical or radio code can be used as server tags, though RFID tags aren’t ideal because of the “electronic noise” that a data center emits.

The virtual brain trust

At VMware’s annual conference, the company hosted its R&D Innovation Lounge, devoted to showcasing technologies still in the lab.

The academic-like posters hung in the booth offered a glimpse into the brainstorming that goes on behind the scenes at a major tech company. The VMware innovation program includes an annual brainstorming meeting, where developers bring new tech ideas to see what sticks or rises to the top.

“It can be off the wall, but it stimulates ideas about how you can do something better,” Borman said. Some projects on display were highly speculative, while others are production software already in use at VMware.

Last year’s Socialcast concept came out of the advanced development program, according to Borman. VMware brings six of the advanced research and development ideas onto a public drawing board of sorts at VMworld, where VMware engineers can get feedback from attendees.

“I pay attention to [comments like] ‘This is awesome, but…’” said Borman. “Our role is to understand their needs and make their lives easier.”

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