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5 Smart Tactics for Managing Multiple Data Centers

August 16, 2013 No Comments

Did you ever see the talent show where there was a man who balanced a number of plates on 7 foot long poles? By spinning the poles carefully the entertainer keeps the plates spinning smoothly for minutes on end, the audience applauds wildly at the entertainer’s skill. What has this got to do with managing multiple data centers? Well quite a lot actually.

Running multiple data centers is a necessary requirement of multinational companies to keep the network traffic in country wherever possible and there a many good reasons for this, they include:

Keeping traffic in country is cost effective, going international gets expensive particularly in geographies like the Middle East and Southern Europe.

Routing site visitors to the best responding servers that can provide local language content fast and efficiently.

Any international connectivity issues can be limited by maintaining local data centers, these sort of headlines should not make you panic “Divers Caught Trying to Cut Egypt’s Undersea Internet Cable” from March 2013 as your servers are in country.

1. Standardize on your platforms

From the physical cable infrastructure to the applications you use it is important to try to try to standardize wherever possible. The benefits of this approach are that you can drive down your support costs as you have to support fewer applications and systems to support so the skill set of your support staff needs are concentrated on core applications.

2. The smart dashboard is your best friend

By being able to concentrate your specialist skilled resources online but with access to all of your remotely deployed locations is the smartest move you can make. A specialist technician disconnected and travelling on a train, plane, or in their car is a resource that is not working for you. Giving your specialist staff remote access to applications, data center racks or even enterprise multifunction printers is not only possible but very affordable and allows your staff to access your multiple data centers easily.

3. Choose your OS and virtual environment

At most you should opt to use no more than 2 operating systems for your network application servers. The most popular division is for Microsoft for office applications and unified communications platforms together with Linux for applications where high processing performance is very important. Linux has more variants available than the standard Microsoft platform. For this reason it is important to try to minimize the number of “flavors” of Linux you run.

4. Who is going to support you?

There are great advantages in having a single global provider of maintenance services providing a single maintenance contract that covers all of your infrastructure and applications together with their content. The downside is that this cost “for one size fits all” is that you will probably be paying more for this service if you outsource completely. You will need to decide the best form of deployment; the smart advice is to retain the skilled management of your network in house, while contracting in the technicians and operatives who need to go to site to carry out the work that your specialists decide is necessary to optimize the costs for this service.

5. Implement geographic load balancers

These could be very important to allowing your network to allow the company to be profitable or even survive a natural catastrophe. GEO load balancers as they are known, have a great deal to offer for those who have to manage multiple data centers. Essentially they collect incoming network traffic and determine which best performing server to route it to based on least cost routing principals, the best suitable content for the user, as well as least cost routing principals.

When you are shopping for GEO load balancers look for those that concentrate on doing just that and avoid those that offer you a host of additional costly features that you will probably never need.

Chris Heyn is the general manager of KEMP Technologies Italy. He lives in a small village called Arcene about 40kms from Milan. For the past 14 years Chris has been involved in business development for ICT companies looking to expand their activities into Italy and the eastern Mediterranean as well as the Middle East.

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