The data center and cloud computing infrastructure build-out trends are so hot that a number of IT companies that had long since established themselves in other specialties are refocusing much of their new-business strategy in those areas.
For example, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell, Fujitsu and Oracle make servers and storage that provide the basis for cloud computing systems; that certainly is a natural.
However, it's not natural for a networking company such as Cisco Systems, a storage-and-security provider such as EMC, or a power supply company such as Emerson Network Power to come up with data center management software to go with their hardware and services.
Partnerships, of course, are the answer to getting these new products and services designed, tested and ready for prime-time. Cisco and EMC have illustrated this approach with their preconfigured vBlock cloud modules, and, if you ask EMC CEO Joe Tucci if they're selling after one year on the market, he'll tell you "they're well ahead of plan."
News on Oct. 19 came from Emerson Network Power, which introduced Trellis, an integrated, single-information-source data center infrastructure management platform. Trellis is designed to bridge what Emerson calls a "critical gap" between a data center's IT equipment and facilities infrastructure.
Steve Hassell, president of Emerson's Avocent software business, made the announcement Oct. 19 at Interop New York, which continues through Oct. 22.
The Trellis platform, which Emerson said will be available by this time next year, is a new package of hardware, software and services designed to manage the ebb and flow of the infrastructure holistically from a central control dashboard. This is aimed to help data center managers make smarter decisions about efficiency, availability and capacity utilization.
"Virtualization has brought greater flexibility and efficiency to data center management, but has introduced new complexities and pressures to the static physical infrastructure," Hassell said.
Typically, data center managers reserve 20 percent or more of their power system capacity as a buffer against overload. This has become a standard practice because they do not have an integrated real-time view of operating conditions within the IT equipment and the power and cooling systems.
Over the last few years, virtualization--along with an ever-increasing number of virtual machines running workloads--has added so much more complexity into systems that IT managers have had to increase the size of the buffer to account for it.
Hassell told eWEEK in an interview earlier this year that if every U.S. data center could utilize just 10 percent more of its available capacity, U.S. businesses could save more than $10 billion in power and cooling costs through improved data center infrastructure management.
Hassell said Trellis aims to increase capacity utilization by providing visibility into and control over integration and collaboration between the physical and IT infrastructure layers, eliminating the need for guesswork that requires a power system capacity buffer.
The Trellis platform will combine the functionalities of Emerson's Aperture, Avocent and Liebert DCIM software, Hassell said. He said he expects Trellis modules to be available by Q4 2011 with subsequent modules rolling out over the following 12 to 18 months.
A year ago, Hassell was Emerson's CIO. After he oversaw the consolidation of Emerson's 135 data centers down to four, including the implementation of its state-of-the-art data center in St. Louis, he was asked by CEO David Farr to run Emerson's largest acquisition, Avocent [$1.2 billion], as well as Emerson's Aperture software group.
In March 2010, Emerson launched an Aperture data center optimization software suite that uses existing hardware to monitor and measure power and cooling utilization within data centers. That product will be included in the forthcoming Trellis package.
"I experienced this control gap [between IT equipment and facilities] firsthand," Hassell told eWEEK. "Most data centers are a facilities project followed by an IT project: facilities builds the box, and IT comes along and stuffs the box. We were determined to do it differently.
"We started with the business applications, saying this is why it exists, then let's try and create a facility that optimizes that environment."