Your data center infrastructure is mission critical and needs to be managed using best practices. Here are five critical areas you need to focus on:

What and where are your mission-critical IT infrastructure assets?

Simple as it sounds, keeping an up-to-date asset inventory of critical IT data center and remote location assets is anything but. In larger enterprises, asset management software is typically deployed to track valuable IT assets; however, many smaller organizations rely on manual inventory lists that are hard to maintain and quickly become outdated or forgotten as IT asset management responsibilities are reassigned within IT support departments. If you don’t know what you have deployed, it can be challenging to maintain operational budget compliance, pass internal and external audits, and identify hardware maintenance schedules or end-of-life infrastructure, which increases your risk profile.

Quest’s KACE asset management and end-point deployment software tool offers a good value for small to medium-sized businesses. More info at: https://www.quest.com/kace/

Are your mission-critical IT assets currently under some type of support agreement, either through the OEM’s warranty or extended warranty agreements?

There are three parts to this question. One is licensing compliance. The second is firmware and software revision control, and the third is when the support and licensing agreements are to be renewed. It's important to engage all stakeholders within the enterprise in an annual review to ensure that systems meet current and future growth and performance requirements. Decisions regarding system refresh, performance tuning and planning for future growth should be encouraged at these times.

Dell’s DPACK, a free, memory-resident performance gathering tool is an excellent solution for reporting all physical and virtual systems performance and resource utilization. More info at: http://www.dell.com/en-us/work/learn/dpack

Is there an opportunity to enhance mission-critical IT infrastructure?

Many IT organizations are asked to continue to support workload and user growth with little to no increase in operating and capital budgets (sound familiar?) This can force a “set and forget” practice of installing and configuring IT resources initially, then moving on to other priority projects, having no choice but to leave the old resource configurations in place until retirement. What many IT department leaders may not realize is that with some relatively inexpensive software tools, it is possible to put a “dollars and cents” figure to this practice.

Quest’s vFoglight is a tool that applies value to each resource, and can identify savings that are available, based on recommended reconfigurations. More info at: https://www.quest.com/foglight/

Are internal infrastructure support resources being utilized properly?

In today’s heterogeneous computing, storage and networking environments, it is challenging to maintain the necessary depth of certifications and knowledge within the organization’s support structure. For this reason, third-party maintenance options from trusted partners, such as user groups and online forums — or, if budgets permit, professional services available from independent support and service organizations like Abtech Technologies — are critical to maintaining your infrastructure. More info at: www.abtechtechnologies.com

Should you engage an independent (multi-vendor) IT infrastructure support partner?

The answer here is…why not try? Tap your professional network and ask your associates at other companies who they've used for hardware maintenance in the past, and how they rate the experience. Select one or two recommendations for potential support partners and engage them in discussions regarding your environment, goals and objective (such as performance vs. cost, high availability vs. hardware costs, etc.) Check their client references and speak with not only the account reps, but also the customer engineers, both local and remote.

Randy Henniger is a Senior Support Specialist at Abtech Technologies, based in Carlsbad, CA. Randy has more than 30 years of experience in enterprise solutions and services with IBM, Dell/EMC, HP, Western Digital and Data Switch. Abtech Technologies is an independent IT support and services company with thousands of clients and support centers around the U.S. More info at: www.abtechtechnologies.com.