Data Centers

3 inventory tools that eliminate some pre-data center migration jitters

If you don't have a good handle on your inventory before a data center migration, you're asking for problems. These three inventory tools should come in handy.

SharePoint may not seem like an obvious choice, but sometimes it's the right tool for the job.
Image: Microsoft

A data center migration can be one of the most difficult projects a data center manager has to undertake. From a technical perspective, migrating systems from one location to a new location is a mature process. Regardless of the migration size, operational details are where I've seen many migrations falter.

Inventory is one of the most significant challenges in a data center migration. These three inventory-tracking tools will help reduce unwelcome surprises during data center migrations.

SharePoint

It may not be worth the effort to deploy a heavy-duty inventory tool for a data center that has 100 or fewer hosts. For smaller environments that remain fairly static, SharePoint can get the job done.

General-purpose solutions such as SharePoint let data center managers build shared custom inventory forms; these forms allow separate administrative groups to update a central inventory. SharePoint also provides a central location and reporting mechanism that can be expanded to track your migration progress.

HP Universal Discovery

Generally speaking, the larger the environment, the more dynamic the inventory. There becomes a point where the manual collection of inventory data becomes too much overhead. An automated discovery tool such as HP's Universal Discovery (UD) can be useful.

UD leverages agent and agentless discovery of data center devices. In agentless use cases, UD scans individual IP ranges for devices. Based on firewall and operating system configurations, UD can obtain a good deal of information without an agent. For example, UD can collect the OS version and the network and storage details of a Windows system if given domain credentials.

For organizations that are more sensitive to security and port scanning, in general, UD can be configured to accept updates from systems with agents installed. The agents can provide a much larger range of information.

While UD is a power tool, it must be combined with a higher-level configuration management database (CMDB) to be truly useful. CMDBs can be leveraged to provide extremely useful information such as mapping applications to physical hardware. HP UD can be the source of data for CMDBs from vendors such as HP's UCMDB, ServiceNow, and BMC.

BMC Atrium

For very complex environments that are large and dynamic a tool such as BMC's Atrium may be more appropriate. Pure discovery solutions don't provide relationships between individual systems. While a basic inventory solution may list all of the Linux systems, the solution will not help you understand which systems depend on Active Directory.

BMC Atrium is a category of solutions that provides discovery and dependency mapping. Using discovery data, Atrium can interpret the dependency between a storage array, a host connected to the array, and an application. The data collected from Atrium can be used to create migration groups based on application dependencies.

Heed operational best practices

Inventory collection and analysis technology is just one aspect of controlling inventory during a migration. Another data center migration best practice is to implement operational controls such as a change freeze period.

If you had to move your data center today, do you have all of the information needed? What tools and processes would you use to fill the gap? Let us know in the discussion.

About Keith Townsend

Keith Townsend is a technology management consultant with more than 15 years of related experience designing, implementing, and managing data center technologies. His areas of expertise include virtualization, networking, and storage solutions for Fo...

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