Why data center maps are vital to your IT infrastructure
Creating data center maps is often considered to be a thankless job. In most instances, these maps are never drawn up. Even if a data center map is created, they are rarely viewed and are often abandoned after some time.
Datacenter maps provide us a combination of documentation and diagrams on the racks. It also includes internal hardware and more important details. Mastering the art of creating data center maps can be an arduous as well as time-consuming process. However, this is an excellent skill to have, particularly when disaster hits.
Therefore, regardless of the size of your company, the individuals looking after its IT infrastructure must be well acquainted with data center maps.
Contents of Data Center Maps:
In it’s most basic form, data center maps show the data center’s racks along with the equipment inside it. This ideally includes physical servers, power supply units, switches and routers, backup drives, and any other hardware present in the data center.
It is possible to add extra value to your documentation by including additional details. By including communication paths, it is possible to indicate the network segment to which a device connects. It also shows the multiple redundancy paths for different switches. You can preserve your multiple paths with the help of a detailed diagram if there is a requirement for repatching the server. In the absence of a map, multiple network interface cards may be installed into the other end of the same switch. The planned redundancy can be erased by doing this.
Importance of Data Center Documentation:
There is no denying the fact that documentation is one of the most overlooked and often neglected aspects of IT. It is true that time is a valuable resource and it is hard to justify spending time on documentation when there are tasks such as building, fixing and optimising systems. However, there will be times when this information will be required. If you have the data center’s floor plan handy, it becomes much easier for you to visualize future changes, particularly while upgrading the system by installing temporary equipment.
Datacenter documentation is also necessary for creating your disaster recovery plan. It is also helpful while executing remote tasks such as instructing a technician about fixing or replacing a failed hard drive.
Please remember that keeping records is a part of your duty of care to the company. If you are in charge of a data center, please ensure that the entire IT team has easy access to the data center map. However, access to this document should only be limited to parties that require knowledge of schematics or physical access for operational and planning purposes.
In many ways, having no diagrams at all is better than having diagrams that are outdated. Though extremely important, data center map updates are often overlooked by IT departments.
Without any documentation, you will encounter the uphill while figuring out how something is configured. Unfortunately, you will have practically no path to follow. Incorrect documentation will make things even worse for you because it will guide you down the wrong path. Just imagine the frustration after spending an hour or more during an outage to find a physical server, and discovering that it was virtualized several months ago.
The good news is that a data center map update doesn’t require even nearly as much time as creating the original map. Try to ensure that the documentation and diagrams are updated as soon as any changes are made. The ideal approach would be to make data center map updates a part of the organization’s change management process.