Ben Hatton Evaluating data center software: 3 things to consider

September 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently I read a series of articles about the ‘failed’ business model of open source software companies, and what these companies should do to adapt and better compete against larger companies that provide proprietary software (here’s one of them). I won’t look too deeply into those specifics, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at some ways that you can evaluate software options yourself, if you are like any of our colocation clients who have multiple servers and applications to manage. Software is obviously a requirement when it comes to infrastructure management, so the ability to evaluate and make decisions on what software you will use is a very important one to have. Coding

3 factors you should consider

It’s no secret that we utilize several pieces of open source software here at Data Cave*. We use a combination of open source as well as proprietary software to serve a very wide range of functions to run pieces of equipment, as well as to monitor them. When it comes to making a decision to move forward with any piece of software, there are 3 primary factors that go into that decision:

  • Scalability: Does the software allow for new devices to be added over time? And if so, does its performance level continue to keep up? If you are a growth-focused organization like many of our clients, any software you utilize should be able to grow with your business, accommodating for higher workloads as your infrastructure needs become more demanding. This makes scalability a very big deal for any piece of software, especially software that manages some aspect of your server infrastructure.
  • Flexibility: What does the software offer in terms of overall functionality, in the short and long term? Is it reliable enough to support your business today, but full-featured enough to support needs your IT team may have in the future? This goes somewhat hand in hand with the point on scalability mentioned above; as your IT infrastructure evolves and grows, your specific needs from a software standpoint will likely evolve as well. Having a software tool in place that is flexible enough to support your current as well as future needs should play a major part in your decision-making process.
  • Support: Software support should include documentation on the product itself, as well as customer support in the form of a contract or warranty. Any reliable piece of software should be well documented and supported by its developers, making long-term support a must have for any new software you may be evaluating.

While the article I mentioned above focuses on the shifting business models being taken by some open source software companies, at the end of the day the only thing that should really matter to you is having reliable, flexible, and supported software that can help to sustain and grow your IT infrastructure along with your business. This applies regardless of whether you prefer open source vs. proprietary software, as well as whether you own your own data center vs. colocation space in a 3rd party facility. When it comes to your server management, there are many different needs for software, and there are also many different options out there to fill those needs.

These are the key things that we look for when we evaluate our own software needs at Data Cave, and I hope that these pointers can help with your own software evaluation needs as well!


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