Smartphones are now offering data center technical staff a new level of mobility by enabling them to have a view into critical data center systems, regardless of where they’re located. Data center technicians no longer have to be tethered to a PC, because many data center infrastructure vendors have mobile apps that provide just as powerful views as were once only available from a web browser on a PC.
There are also useful multifunction utility apps available for common network and system administration tasks. These apps can find a place in small and large data center operations alike, because they enable data center staff to be out working on the floor and with users where they should be.
Here’s a roundup of some useful iPhone apps for data center staff:
The Vizor app provides data center staff working in an Schneider Electric-based environment the following features:
- Data center capacity view, including power, space, cooling, and network utilization at a high level
- Complete asset inventory from your iPhone
- Business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including power, cooling, space, and network health (data center management can view this data from anywhere when they need to make a decision)
- Remaining capacity view into any location that predicts the remaining capacity based upon your data center’s current growth rate
- Graphical view over power, cooling, space, and network usage defined on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis
- Integrated barcode scanner for asset identification
The free Vizor iPhone app brings together data center tools that used to be spread out across a number of applications. It includes LDAP and AD security, plus user roles built around location and feature-based access using a multi-user login. The app also includes multi-user access, which is especially handy with large data center operations that run multiple shifts, because it enables multiple users to carry out work simultaneously and then merge the changes. Figure A shows the main screen of the Vizor app:
Vizor iPhone Capacity screen.
Ping tool is an iPhone app that only costs $0.99 (USD). It includes quick access to some traditional network management tools, including:
- DNS Lookup
- Response Time
- SSL Monitor
- Scan Ports
- Host List
The Ping tool app is like having a Swiss army knife of network utilities on your iPhone. It’s an app that I recommend and will continue to use on my device. Figure B shows an example of the Ping tool:
Pinging techrepublic.com using the Ping tool.
DCtools is a free iPhone app that can help data center administrators make quick calculations about data center capacity. With the DCtools app, you can factor in the following capacity variables (Figure C):
- Number of Servers
- Server Height in Us
- Server Weight in lb
- Server Power in W
- Switch Ports for Servers
- Switch Height in Us
- Switch Weight in lb
- Megabits Utilization
DCtools interface for its Capacity Calculator.
Once you add in the data to figure out your data center capacity, simply tap Calculate. The DCtools app also helps you further specify Cabinet settings, DC Settings, and other currencies.
Schneider Electric White Papers
While this isn’t really an app, Schneider Electric packages some of their data center research and thought leadership into the Schneider Electric White Papers app. This app includes content about data center operations, planning, and infrastructure management.
When you first download the app, it asks you for your name, email address, and country of residence to register. You have the option to register or skip that step, which is nice. All of the white papers are available from the app in PDF.
Schneider Electric White Papers gives you the option to register for updates, Add to Favorites, Print, or Email. Figure D shows this app open to a selection of white papers:
Schneider Electric White Papers app.
Future of data center apps on the iPhone
Entering data into an iPhone app with the virtual keyboard has its pros and cons. When you’re working in a data center cage, there can be added inconveniences — especially when working on equipment.
ManageEngine, a developer of IT management solutions, is beginning to add voice controls to iPhone apps, starting with their Service Desk Plus solution. While I didn’t have the opportunity to check it out, it does paint a picture where a data center technician could access open tickets through voice controls. The technician could continue interacting with their IT management solution via voice controls while doing work with their hands or while in motion on the floor of the data center.
These apps show that the iPhone is becoming a standard data center tool for helping staff better respond to daily operational requests, tasks, and even outages in a productive and expedient manner. Did we include your favorite data center app for the iPhone in this roundup? If not, please share your favorite in the discussion thread below.