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10 hot tools for the next-generation data center

By , Network World
March 22, 2010 12:04 AM ET

Network World - Enterprise data centers are notoriously complex, costly and energy inefficient, which leaves plenty of opportunity for innovative vendors to introduce products to make life easier for data center managers.

Best of Tests 2010

Here are 10 that are worth a look.

1. Cloudkick SaaS application 

Vendor: Cloudkick

Price: From $99 to $599 monthly, depending on the number of servers. Customized packages are available.

What it does: Manages and monitors multiple cloud services from a single dashboard.

Why it's interesting: The beauty of cloud computing services lies in simplicity, in easing IT constraints in the data center with on-demand compute or storage resources. But management can be beastly – especially if your organization is contending with multiple cloud providers.

Cloudkick offers its cloud management and monitoring application as a service, bringing together servers from multiple clouds into a unified Web-based dashboard. Users get the ability to manage and monitor servers in multiple clouds, receive alerts, run diagnostics and view performance graphs. The tools work the same way across all cloud service providers that support Cloudkick. That list includes Amazon EC2, The Rackspace Cloud and GoGrid, among others.

2. Max2Go

Vendor: ControlCircle

Price: Free, at least in initial version

What it does: Delivers data center management to smartphone users

Why it's interesting: Load this data center management application onto your smartphone and get a real-time view of your infrastructure, including power, connectivity, bandwidth and critical systems. Via the mobile GUI, on-the-move data center managers can even issue alerts and manage ticket requests. As new as this tool is, there are a couple of catches. For one, until the company increases device support, you've got to have a BlackBerry device with trackball or trackpad – no touch screens allowed at the moment, says Ian Finlay, ControlCircle CTO. And, only ControlCircle customers who are provisioned on the company's new portal, Max2000, can use the application to manage their infrastructure and services, Finlay says.

However, anyone can download the application and use it in demo mode, he adds. And, ControlCircle says it is thinking about white labeling the application for use by other providers. Mobilizing data center management is an interesting idea in general, but particularly so when you throw emergencies and disaster planning into the mix. With Max2Go, data center managers can remotely watch over a single rack or a complex managed environment compromising servers, applications, connectivity and security, Finlay says. His one recommendation: Since the application polls for status even when running in the background, users are going to want an uncapped data plan.

3. OverDrive 3.0 

Vendor: LineSider Technologies

Price: $250,000 to $500,000

What it does: Orchestrates policy-based, real-time automation and control of network services, including access and security, across the logical and physical network. This product should not be confused with the company's same-named but functionally different original product, sold for integration with other vendors' network gear to help with IP-based services management.

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