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Case Study: SAS Taps Avocent for Remote Server Management

Dan Marx, an IT engineer with SAS, one of the largest software companies in the world, had growing concerns about keeping up with the IT demands of the burgeoning global company. Standardized IT support had to be rolled out across more than 400 offices in more than 50 countries, and they needed a seamless solution from which to access a variety of operating systems across platforms, all from a single console.

“SAS is committed to delivering standardized IT solutions that can scale and be used across geographies; it’s our job to find solutions that provide optimal security, IT productivity and responsiveness to our constituencies,” said Marx.

As Marx began researching his issues, he quickly found a recurring theme — a lack of standards. “Hardware vendors all have different out-of-band service processors with varying console access methods: Dell uses DRAC, HP has iLO, INM has RSA and so forth. Each vendor’s interface and access management is unique,” he explained.

In an effort to reduce complexity, Marx sought a solution which could access each vendor’s out-of-band service processor as well as side-band industry standard, Baseboard Management Controllers (BMC), via Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) within one interface and using one method.

Solution:

After carefully evaluating available solutions, SAS selected Avocent Corp.’s KVM over IP switches and integrated DSView 3 management software along with the MergePoint IP-based service processor manager. With the ability to pull together IPMI, power management, KVM over IP, and management software, Marx felt that only Avocent offered the “complete” solution.

“Avocent was the only vendor to address console access and power management as a whole. Avocent provided a complete, unified solution for remote server management,” stated Marx.

With KVM over IP, fewer people would physically touch the server, a change which tightened security as virtual access can be closely monitored and controlled. Marx saw this as a sort of added bonus.

Results:

Immediately upon deploying Avocent’s digital KVM over IP switches and DSView 3 software, SAS’s IT team was able to work on the company’s 3,000-plus servers remotely, decrease their response time by 35 percent, and improve overall IT productivity, data security and customer service.

“Ninety-nine percent of our server console management and maintenance is now done remotely through one interface: Avocent DSView 3 software,” said Marx. “It allows IT people like me to multitask and be more productive. We’ve increased IT administrator productivity by 20 percent. Instead of standing in front of a console waiting for tasks to be completed, I can now manage those tasks from my desktop while answering e-mails and taking phone calls, increasing my workload efficiency and overall productivity.”

SAS also implemented added security measures with DSView 3 that allow the company to select servers the IT team needs access to in order support a particular department, and grant them access to only those specific servers. This allows much quicker and easier access to the servers through IP, while also actively managing which data team members can access.

“This has been very well-received by our IT staff. People love it,” said Marx. “We don’t have to tell people where their servers are anymore, and they don’t have to walk to the server rooms to do their work since everything can be done from the desktop. All you need is Internet access.”


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