Data center management doesn’t always have to be a complex endeavor. There are many options for maintaining and monitoring your environment, and not all of them break the bank or require a telephone-book-thick user manual. In the case of data center management, simplicity can go a long way.

Efficiently monitoring and managing your data center involves network intelligence (the capacity of your network to continuously examine data packets in real time, then analyzing relationships and finding correlations between data from various network traffic sources).

There are three levels of network intelligence you may have to choose between when it comes to data center management. These levels don’t represent good-better-best scenario – instead, they signify different levels of network intelligence intensity. Not every data center will see a return on investment from full-blown network intelligence, so take the time to weigh your options and determine which level you truly need.

Level 1: Full Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM)

This first level of network intelligence offers the widest level of coverage. AIM includes the hardware that automatically detects patch cord insertion or removal (such as an intelligent patch panel) and the software that collects, stores and communicates this information. The monitoring software allows you to view data center performance through real-time dashboards that report on utilization, open tickets, problem ports, etc.

Components of an AIM solution can include intelligent patch cords, ID keys and a collector, which each intelligent patch panel is linked to through a Category 5e patch cord. The collector collects and routes real-time information to the dashboard.

AIM can be used in a wide variety of applications to monitor processes and detect changes as they occur:

  1. Asset management and location
  2. Capacity planning
  3. Provisioning
  4. Module mapping
  5. Workflow management
  6. What-if analysis

Offering the highest level of monitoring and automation possible, AIM solutions are also the most expensive to implement, install and maintain.

Download our 10 Steps to Holistic Data Center Design white paperLevel 2: Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)

DCIM can integrate IT system management with building management and energy management to allow centralized data center monitoring and management, and assist with capacity planning. This type of network intelligence can scale to manage hundreds of thousands of assets across a global IT infrastructure. DCIM provides real-time monitoring of the environment (from power usage to temperature levels), alerting data center managers to potential problems. It can also help improve space utilization.

There are some full DCIM solutions that offer hardware and sensors; those typically fall into the AIM intelligence level described above. Compared to an AIM network intelligence solution, DCIM is a more moderate investment in terms of costs and time associated with deployment.

DCIM is used in the following applications to perform real-time monitoring, alerting and management:

  1. Capacity planning
  2. 3D visualization
  3. Monitoring
  4. Cable/connectivity management
  5. Business analytics
  6. Process/change management

Level 3: Traceable/Intelligent Patch Cords

One mighty cord goes a long way when you’re talking about traceable patch cords (also called intelligent patch cords). They feature a bright LED that allows quick tracing of a patch cord from end to end without costly, complex testers. Labeled and bar-coded ends permit compatibility with software ranging from simple inventorying to full-scale DCIM software systems.

Compared to DCIM and AIM solutions, traceable patch cords don’t require a significant upfront investment of time or money. They’re also simple to maintain; the LED’s long-lasting battery replaces easily when needed. No special training is required to install or use traceable patch cords.

Belden’s traceable patch cords use bonded-pair cable, making them much more robust than typical intelligent patch cords.

They can be used in the following applications to manage enterprise-wide, end-to-end connectivity and inventory:

  1. Server connections in equipment cabinets
  2. Switch connectors in DC distribution areas
  3. Point-to-point connections
Belden is here to help you find the proper network intelligence solution for your data center environment.

Regardless of the level of monitoring and management your data center needs, Belden is here to support you and your environment. We can help narrow in on the best level of network intelligence for your data center environment, or recommend solutions if you already know which level of network intelligence you prefer.

Always feel free to learn more about Belden solutions that allow you to monitor and manage your data center.

Have any thoughts or questions? Be sure to share in the comments section below!