By: Matthew Morrissey – Senior Developer, Cormant Inc.
My first experience using the Cormant-CS software was very informative and educational. It was at InteropNet’s Hotstage in Brisbane, CA where approximately ten hardware and software vendors prep and configure the network for Interop, a large, IT tradeshow held in Las Vegas, NV at the end of April 2015, a few weeks after Hotstage. During this prep, the vendors all arrange and configure their products for interoperability with the other products involved. Cormant has documented all the cabling and IT infrastructure for the show since 2011, helping to improve accuracy of records, decrease rack and cabling deployment time, and increase uptime at the show, for InteropNet’s goal of 99.9% uptime.
Using the software for documenting IT infrastructure such as cables and servers, or in this case, documenting a full, mobile data center that will be disassembled and reassembled in less than a month, is analogous to putting together a puzzle. Consider having to put the same puzzle together twice in a row with a length of time in between. Assuming you have an exceptional memory you may be able to complete it faster the second time, but by what factor? Twice as fast? That would be doubtful unless it is a pretty small puzzle. Consider two people that need to put the same puzzle together, one after the other. The first person would put the puzzle together, take it apart, and the next person would put it together again. Holding puzzle skills constant there would be varying degrees of speed from each person doing the puzzle but overall it would take each person relatively the same time to do the puzzle.
Now imagine taking a puzzle out of the box and as you are putting it together you are allowed to mark the piece in each slot to know where the pieces meet. You now have a fully documented puzzle that you can take apart, replace pieces, move around and still understand the big picture of your puzzle (the puzzle analogy is a little farfetched for moving a piece, but if you were to replace a piece you could query for pieces that don’t have connections to find out where the new piece would belong). The second time how much faster would you be able to assemble the puzzle? Twice as fast? That is highly likely, if not even faster, with more accuracy. Now if you were asked to take the puzzle apart, put it back into the box and ask another person to put it back together, how easy would that be? Provided the rules of documenting the puzzle were understood the second person would put the puzzle together with much more efficiency and accuracy than the first.
What Cormant-CS DCIM provides at its core is a way to document a puzzle, a rack, a server room, a data center, or several data centers if you will. To understand the big picture of where things are and how they are connected so not only is it easier to change things, but it is easier for the next person to manage the same puzzle, or create a puzzle of their own.
We used a mix of the handheld device, the web and client applications, all for different processes. The handheld made inventory of the racks and their power and connections very easy. The client application was used to create and edit templates along with a mix of other admin functions. Finally the web portal was used for viewing and editing assets, reviewing rack views, and configuring alerts.
The work completed at Hotstage allowed us to deploy the show floor infrastructure immediately upon arrival at Interop for pre-show setup. We deployed the Hotstage racks and documented all the cable drops at each respective booth location for proper connectivity. Booth updates were quickly maneuvered within Cormant-CS by a scan of the barcode or asset tag to ensure accuracy. All the prep work and documentation was important to be able to quickly troubleshoot connectivity issues such as speed and uptime during Interop. For any problems on the show floor, technicians could check Cormant-CS to find the full path of connectivity to see the exact rack, server and switch to identify the problem and maintain uptime.