Like any major national entry point, the San Diego Port Authority deals with its fair share of security headaches. The real-world port is patrolled by local Harbor Police, environmental monitors, airport security, military security and the customs and immigration authorities you'd expect. Responsibility for IT security, though, came down to how alert and persistent a staff of 18 people could be, when it was already supporting 11 separate sites, more than 700 users, more than 60 networking devices making up a wide-area network, and a mix of Microsoft, NetWare and Unix servers.
Last year, the port's IT group began testing products to simplify virtual and physical infrastructure monitoring. What they found points to the growing number of options in the data center management space, including tools aimed not at the largest enterprises but the midsize ones.
With a busy airport, the largest Navy base on the West Coast, more than 250 cruise-ship arrivals per year, two major cargo terminals, 16 waterfront parks and more than 600 commercial tenants, the Port and the IT infrastructure that support it both see heavy traffic.
It's not that security was particularly bad or that the network itself was particularly shaky, according to Port Director of IT Adolfo Segura. It's just that, the way the infrastructure was set up and equipped for monitoring, it was almost impossible for Segura or the IT staff to track problems back to their point of origin.
Benefits of CMDB-Based Management Apps
After years of struggling to build a unified picture of IT with point products whose views didn't mesh, Segura says, the Port started testing one of what has become a wave of all-in-one data-center management products: those designed to support both physical and virtual infrastructures, some using ITIL-based Configuration Management Databases (CMDB).
CMDB-based management applications have the potential to give a much richer picture of and much greater control over large, complex IT operations, because they centralize performance data in a repository that allows IT managers to relate activities that would otherwise be hard to connect, according to Dennis Drogseth, analyst at Enterprise Management Associates.
The CMDB-based applications such as those from EMC's Ionix division or BMC, for example, are designed to separate the process of collecting data from the analysis of that data, Drogseth says. This separates the tools used to collect performance data, which are typically produced by a hardware vendor and are designed and optimized for that vendor's products, from the tools used to analyze it.
This approach requires that a far greater breadth of data be collected in one place and that the data be standardized so it can be crunched using tools that are convenient or affordable for the end user, not the vendor, Drogseth says.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.