Brace yourself for super admins, HP Canada says

As enterprise data centres become less siloed in their operations, an HP Canada executive foresees the emergence of a super administrator position with expertise across the network, storage hardware, and server infrastructure.

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Chris Christianopoulos, business development manager for HP Canada, said traditional IT infrastructure tend to be siloed. “Usually you’ll have your server admin, network admins, storage admins and those that deal with the facility side of the equation,” he said.


But with a new trend toward convergence of IT operations, these separate administrators could see their position evolve into a supporting role, or in some cases, be eliminated entirely.


“There needs to be a new level of admin that takes into account the ability to manage across today’s silos,” said Christianopoulos.


He added that a blurring of responsibilities would create a role requiring both a deep understanding of business goals and a strong grasp of various technologies across the data centre.


The super admin is a position that fits perfectly with HP’s “converged infrastructure” plan, which is comprised of products and services aimed at tackling data centre sprawl. The company’s vision involves fully integrated virtualized servers, storage, and networks on the hardware side, coupled with an end-to-end management tool on the software side.


Christianopoulos cited HP’s Virtual Connect technology for HP BladeSystems as proof of the company’s long-standing push toward breaking down silos and eventually supporting the super administrator role.


“Traditionally, the network administrator would be touching every single facet of the manageability of network connections back to the server,” he said. “With VirtualConnect, we’ve blended the roles by allowing the server administrator to make changes to network connections, without having to involve the network or storage administrator to do that.”


Michelle Warren, president of Toronto-based MW Research and Consulting, said HP’s “converged infrastructure” push aims to simplify data centre management, while freeing up IT to focus on innovating.


“One of the secrets to success in this recession is the continued ability to market, continued ability to conduct business, continued ability to create something new and innovate,” she said.


Of course, HP is not alone in this area, as vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc. and EMC Corp. have been teaming up to push a similar “unified computing” vision.


Cisco is also involved in another big partnership with NetApp Inc. and VMware Inc., which aims to combat enterprise IT shops have built their infrastructure unpredictably and without a purposeful design. The plan sets out to give customers everything they need to maximize the benefits of virtualization and create private clouds.

Cisco is bringing its Nexus 1000 virtual switches and unified computing servers to the partnership, NetApp is delivering on the virtual storage component, and of course, VMware is providing much of the virtualization capability.

Val Bercovici, a senior director with NetApp’s CTO office, said that unlike the “one vendor does it all” approach from vendors like HP and IBM Corp., this partnership will bring the best of breed in servers, network, and storage technology from three companies basically acting as one.


– With files from Kathleen Lau

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