Secure data center infrastructure with asset management.

Data center infrastructure management is one way to track security patches and unauthorized hardware access. There are a few features you can use to increase security.

Fully featured data center infrastructure management tools can streamline operations, but they are also a double-edged sword. They can help you identify security gaps and avoid breaches, but they store everything there is to know about your operation, which makes it imperative to have security features in place.

Intrusion avoidance is what most IT professionals associate with security. The ability to access operational information remotely is a major feature of robust DCIM security tools. You can check alarms and drill down into data on your smartphone or tablet before you decide what to do or who to call. But if you can access information remotely, an intruder probably can too.

Your network is the cornerstone of your organization’s security; it’s the first line of defense against any kind of intrusion. Building strong application-layer security into your DCIM can protect your systems against any application-based or domain name attacks.

Set DCIM security standards

The government, military and even the Central Intelligence Agency use DCIM tools, so there are certainly tools available with a wide array of high-level security features.

Of course, you need dedicated access and multiple levels of encryption, but the most recognized security gauge is the Federal Information Processing Standard known as FIPS 140-2. This standard outlines guidelines for encryption, cryptographic modules and hardware anti-tampering measures.

The government has different security levels for its agencies. The military and intelligence sectors have the highest security measures and FIPS 140-2-compliant tools meet those needs. Healthcare and finance have their own regulatory security concerns, and FIPS 140-2 covers the compliance needs of those industries, as well.

Scan the network with DCIM security tools

DCIM auto-discovery is a useful function for system security. It identifies unpatched assets, generates work orders and maintains alerts until they are resolved.

It can also track if someone introduces hardware or software without the right authorizations and notifications. This is because DCIM tools monitor the computing hardware and track the make, model number, operating system and release, application software and releases, and even the serial numbers and asset tag IDs depending on the system’s sophistication.

DCIM tools constantly poll the network and can discover new hardware and software to add to the asset management database. This is useful for monitoring security patches and updates. For example, if an OS update comes out and you have to patch 125 servers, but you don’t know how many servers run that OS and you only update 124, one server is still vulnerable.

Furthermore, a variety of people still go in and out of some data centers, and executives may even bring visitors in with them for tours and information sessions. This makes it important to know if anything is amiss.

Another part of security to consider is company culture. Which security features do you enable or disable out of the box? Which features do you change to make hardware more or less secure? Robust security may impede fast-moving operations, and multiple sign-in requirements can frustrate busy and harried techs. And although turnkey security options offer installation and maintenance benefits, they can also be overwhelmingly comprehensive.

In short, strong DCIM security tools have robust protections, but the vendor has no control over what users do with them or the environment that runs the DCIM. Plus, DCIM auto-discovery can’t reach down to the server processor level where advanced persistent threats occur.

DCIM can, however, relieve some concerns in a complex computing environment in which you have a cloud-based setup or resources shared with users outside of your control.

Servers

A server is a computer, a device or a program that is dedicated to managing network resources. Servers are often referred to as dedicated because they carry out hardly any other tasks apart from their server tasks.

Basic definition of a server.

A server is a computer program that provides a service to another computer programs (and its user). In a data center, the physical computer that a server program runs in is also frequently referred to as a server. That machine may be a dedicated server or it may be used for other purposes as well.

In the client/server programming model, a server program awaits and fulfills requests from client programs, which may be running in the same or other computers. A given application in a computer may function as a client with requests for services from other programs and also as a server of requests from other programs.

Types of servers

Servers are often categorized in terms of their purpose. A Web server, for example, is a computer program that serves requested HTML pages or files. The program that is requesting web content is called a client. For example, aWeb browser is a client that requests HTML files from Web servers.

Here are a few other types of servers, among a great number of other possibilities:

An application server is a program in a computer in a distributed network that provides the business logic for an application program. 

A proxy server is software that acts as an intermediary between an endpoint device, such as a computer, and another server from which a user or client is requesting a service. 

A mail server is an application that receives incoming e-mail from local users (people within the same domain) and remote senders and forwards outgoing e-mail for delivery.

A virtual server is a program running on a shared server that is configured in such a way that it seems to each user that they have complete control of a server. 

A blade server is a server chassis housing multiple thin, modular electronic circuit boards, known as server blades. Each blade is a server in its own right, often dedicated to a single application.

A file server is a computer responsible for the central storage and management of data files so that other computers on the same network can access them.

A policy server is a security component of a policy-based network that provides authorization services and facilitates tracking and control of files. 

Important server features

Choosing the right server 

There are many factors to consider in the midst of a server selection, including virtual machine (VM) and container consolidation. When choosing a server, it is important to evaluate the importance of certain features based on the use cases. Security capabilities are also important and there will probably be a number of protection, detection and recovery features to consider, including native data encryption to protect data in flight and data at rest, as well as persistent event logging to provide an indelible record of all activity. If the server will rely on internal storage, the choice of disk types and capacity is also important because it can have a significant influence on input/output (I/O) and resilience. 

Many organizations are shrinking the number of physical servers in their data centers as virtualization allows fewer servers to host more workloads. The advent of cloud computing has also changed the number of servers an organization needs to host on premises. Packing more capability into fewer boxes can reduce overall capital expenses, data center floor space and power and cooling demands. Hosting more workloads on fewer boxes, however, can also pose an increased risk to the business because more workloads will be affected if the server fails or needs to be offline for routine maintenance. 

Server maintenance checklist
 

A server maintenance checklist should cover physical elements as well as the system’s critical configuration. 

Download a PDF of this server maintenance checklist.

See also: server virtualization, server sprawl

This was last updated in January 2018

 

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Datacenter Infrastructure-Hybrid cloud providers offer different architecture types

Hybrid cloud means different things to different vendors; some set aside part of the public cloud for private cloud purposes and others simply support an on-premises private cloud.

A hybrid cloud is normally defined as an integration between an on-premises private cloud and at least one third-party public cloud. It can be awkward to refer to hybrid cloud providers because it implies that those providers offer both on-premises and third-party clouds.

The typical meaning of hybrid cloud providers is providers with the potential to deliver a hybrid cloud where the private cloud portion of the hybrid environment is hosted rather than it being deployed on premises. This is the domain of major public cloud providers, such as AWS.

It therefore leaves the million dollar question?

What type of hybrid cloud makes the most sense for your business, and why?

 

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