Guide to Server Management

Management is key to happy, healthy servers


Primer on server management

By Denise Dubie

Server management technologies have traditionally been used to keep server hardware healthy and server software optimized to perform up to expectations.

The tools available today range from software that sits on the box measuring server response times to tools designed to remotely monitor CPU, disk, memory and network interface card resources. Server management typically requires technology that monitors system events and persistence performance parameters as well as operating system and hardware health. Technologies today also monitor the services and processes running on servers to give visibility into application resource consumption, for instance.

A server management platform typically also involves software installed on a dedicated server acting as the central management console and agent software residing on managed machines. Yet with the increasing popularity in J2EE and .Net platforms more vendors are also offering passive monitoring tools that don't require agents on the managed servers, but monitor traffic for requests and responses to and from the server. Additionally, remote control tools that allow IT managers to log on to servers from a distance help reduce the manual labor involved with manager servers and enable IT managers to distribute software and patches on a one-to-many basis.

With virtualization taking hold both in the data center and throughout the network, server management technologies are evolving to include managing configuration, availability and performance of virtual machines (multiple instances of an operating system running on the same physical server) to help IT managers better identify the root cause of problems on a host machine.

And with green IT initiatives under way, reducing the server footprint physically becomes a priority for IT managers who will also be looking to reduce power consumption across the entire data center. Server management vendors offer remote control features that enable IT managers to shut down unused machines and limit power consumption in data centers.

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