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Article - August 2002
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Complete Infrastructure Picture
EMC Corporation Gets the Complete Picture of their Infrastructure Health with e-Guardian® 

Jonathan Buckley, 
VP, Marketing, Business Development, 
NetBrowser Communications

Case Study


The Challenge 

Recent studies have shown that 30% to 50% of the IT network and system outages are directly attributed to the foundational facilities layer as the root cause of failure. We refer to these critical facilities equipment as the Zero Layer™, which includes critical power, environmental, fire safety, space, and physical security assets. 

Companies today are finding it more difficult to manage this critical foundational layer in a cost-effective manner due to a few key obstacles. The difficulties in managing these critical facilities machinery is caused by: (a) the lack of mutual understanding and working cohesion between facilities infrastructure staff and the IT professional; (b) the growth and consolidation efforts; (c) increasing site diversity; (d) the mixed, incompatible equipment environment; and (e) the inherent technology limitations of existing solutions. Such was the situation that EMC Corporation, the enterprise storage leader, faced. 

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At its Advanced Solutions Center of Excellence, EMC provides enterprise application outsourcing services for over forty corporate customers. Its two data centers showcase EMC products deployed in a wide variety of mission critical customer solutions. These data centers host over 175 terabytes of live customer data, on over 650 heterogeneous servers running 8 different operating systems and 5 different databases. Given that, it was critical to design and implement a monitoring solution that substantially reduces the possibility of failures caused by critical facilities machinery. 

A major technical hurdle that EMC faced was the lack of an adequate solution. First, its existing Windows-based monitoring solution was unable to unite all the critical facilities equipment within their data centers under a single platform, thus limiting the visibility of information about the equipments' condition. Second, there was no way to access and view the data from remote locations without installing client software or dealing with cumbersome remote management tools. Third, the system was neither secure nor reliable, as it utilized modem-based communication with its glaring potential for network security breaches. Fourth, the system had limited scalability requiring a server to be installed at each individual location in order to provide acceptable performance. Lastly, their system offered no back up or fail-safe mechanism in the event of component failure. 

As a result, the system never performed adequately in alerting engineering and facilities staff of out-of-tolerance conditions. Additionally, the total cost of ownership was higher than expected requiring a special system administrator and significant IT support during installations and upgrades. Any new software updates needed to be completed on each individual client and server. 

With its zero tolerance position for system failures and the need to guarantee the highest availability to their customers (per their SLA agreements), EMC needed to find an alternative system. 

The Solution 

The e-Guardian® solutionNetBrowser Communications was selected to provide a scalable enterprise solution that enabled EMC's Center of Excellence to unite all of its critical facilities assets into one, manageable proactive system accessible from anywhere at anytime. With the e-Guardian® solution, all of EMC's Advanced Solutions engineering, facilities and the NOC personnel can use and receive the benefits of a single solution that connects and monitors all their mission critical equipment and facilities. 

The e-Guardian® solution is a vendor-neutral IP based monitoring system that connects to all facilities foundational components at EMC's Center of Excellence, including Caterpillar Generators, MGE UPS, MGE PDU, Siemens Power Meters, Siemens Smart Breakers, Russell Electric ATS, Data Aire CRACs, Cyberex STS, Ansul Fire Panel, Rittal CMC, and ABB Variable Frequency Drives. 

Control Solutions, Inc More importantly, e-Guardian® enables these EMC employees to receive a unified view of all critical facilities assets from anywhere, using a simple web browser or wireless PDA. It provides data encryption to ensure network security, bandwidth friendly communication that optimizes performance, and the ability navigate the firewall. Finally, it provides full scalability and robust N+1 redundancy. 

"NetBrowser helps bring facilities infrastructure health into the network/server monitoring world, starting with powerful capabilities for event correlation and root cause analysis," Greg Jeffers, EMC's Senior Technical Project Manager, comments.

Overall, e-Guardian® gives EMC Center of Excellence staff the necessary lead time to resolve problems in advance, allows them to stay proactive in enhancing their capacity planning, and provide a platform for easier maintenance and support. 

Jonathan Buckley (jbuckley@netbrowser.com) is the VP, Marketing and Business Development of NetBrowser Communications. NetBrowser has pioneered and patented an enterprise monitoring software suite, e-Guardian®, for what it calls The Zero Layer™, or the facility foundations layer upon which critical IT systems depend. NetBrowser's Fortune 1000 customer base has plenty of stories of how they avoided disasters using this new technology.


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