For years I have been fascinated by the TV series of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The protagonists solve minor and major crimes on a weekly basis – but not with brute force but a keen eye (and mind) for facts and deduction. In the show, Sherlock Holmes sometimes steps into his “mind palace”, a mnemonic device. It gives the character, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, access to the unbelievable amount of information stored in his mind. By searching through the known facts and deducing scenarios and motives he’s able to solve every case.

 

The rapid development of new services in ERP, DevOps and analytics environments is just as dynamic right now, where it is very hard for data center managers to ensure the provision of these services in on-premise or hybrid IT architecture. Frequent changes in the middle of the system’s life cycle endanger business continuity and service uptime. Additionally, firmware and driver updates as well as security patches must be checked regularly for interoperability. The pre-validated design of NetApp FlexPod already does a lot of the heavy lifting here. Nevertheless, an updated, intelligent “mind palace”, similar to the show, that combines compatibilities and best practices and anticipates dangerous system developments, would be a big help.

The NetApp “mind palace” helps in various lifecycle phases of FlexPod

The NetApp “mind palace”, called NetApp Converged Systems Advisor (CSA), addresses these key challenges within the operational lifecycle. An on-site expert, supported by cloud analytics data, provides the necessary validation, monitoring, and optimization. In addition to the initial installation, NetApp CSA also continues to monitor your FlexPod solution and periodically records its configuration state. These scheduled health checks are then analyzed and users can set up notifications to alert them of unexpected violations such as power outages or issues with the network connectivity.

 

Like Sherlock Holmes’ deduction abilities, NetApp CSA proceeds systematically in three phases:

Validation:

  • Ensure that the system is a supported and compliant FlexPod unit.
  • Simplified assessment and inventory of infrastructure and firmware for software and hardware.
  • Investment protection for critical applications and infrastructures through a holistic view of the lifecycle.
  • An automated condition check for improved maintenance processes and validation of possible changes, including their history.

Monitoring:

  • Centralized system-level notifications for compliance issues.
  • Automated health check history and change control for improved maintenance processes.
  • Regular monitoring to ensure business continuity.

Automation:

  • Proactive notifications to avoid bottlenecks.
  • One-click detection and resolution of configuration issues to minimize time spent on troubleshooting and handling.

These features help IT teams to simplify the processes for maintenance, fault detection, and documentation processes of control systems. Administrators can also quickly identify outdated devices, platforms, and check for firmware interoperability while the system is running. Full stack upgrades for computing, storage and network components can also be performed safely.

 

That way, even complex problems can be identified and resolved quickly – just like on Sherlock

 

NetApp Converged Systems Advisor is available as a subscription-based license. Support is provided directly by NetApp.

Hermann Wedlich