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What Should A Good DCIM Solution Help You Achieve?

Data Center Infrastructure Management, or DCIM, is here to stay. According to the Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) Report – 2014 by IHS, global revenues from the DCIM suite of products is estimated to reach $280 million by the end of 2014 and is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26% through 2019. This is because customers are increasingly aware of what DCIM is and the benefits it provides.

Companies now rely on DCIM tools more, according to Uptime Institute’s 2013 Annual Data Center Industry survey of 1,000 global data center and IT employees. According to the survey, 38% of the respondents have set up DCIM software.

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Many organizations are looking to turn their data centers into strategic assets. This is where DCIM comes in. Earlier, data centers were managed by many departments together, such as facilities management, IT, building administration, and so on. Today, data centers can be managed as a total enterprise using DCIM. DCIM includes planning, management and optimization software and services for the critical aspects of space, use of power, and cooling facilities within the data center. DCIM focuses on the intersection of facilities and IT systems, to create one integrated system which can be easily managed.

Elements of a Good DCIM Solution

1) Power management

A good DCIM solution should help to reduce energy costs. The DCIM system can be used to gather UPS output data, or provide more detailed information through rack or IT device-level monitoring. Another solution can be to install intelligent power distribution units, which can measure IT equipment power. Some DCIM vendors provide the combined functionality of asset and energy management, so that the entire system of IT assets and electrical systems for power and cooling can be visualized, monitored, and used for making automatic changes to the infrastructure as per the requirements of the data center.

2) Change management

The DCIM solution should be integrated with change management, as this directly decreases the likelihood of downtime. DCIM connecting with change management enables power and cooling factors to be considered before actual changes are made, which in turn decreases the likelihood of inadequate power or cooling for a newly installed server, or wasting power and cooling on IT hardware no longer in use.

3) Efficiency

A data center is always looking for ways to become more efficient. This includes not only reduced power consumption, but also rationalization of underutilized resources, planned capacity expansion and equipment purchase, and optimization of work processes. The first step in this is to measure the necessary variables, and DCIM can provide an automated way of doing that, rather than manually collecting data on each aspect such as space, power, and cooling infrastructure. Then, the DCIM solution should enable visualization of the entire model on which the data center operates. The model would show existing capacity, power utilization, usage of space and cooling systems, and IT device availability. Then the customer can plan for the future based on the current metrics, and bring in efficiency by doing more with less.

4) Integration of IT and facilities infrastructure across vendors

A good DCIM solution should be able to connect to various vendors’ cooling or virtualization management platforms. In this way, the DCIM vendor will be able to provide an integrated platform for visualization, monitoring and future capacity planning.

5) A service desk to provide incident and problem management services

A good DCIM solution should enable intelligent alerting and, where appropriate, manage the escalation process. The DCIM solution will actually integrate on the back end as well, following routing rules shared with IT.

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Austin Lehman provides commentary and analysis on DCIM and DCIM-related technology for companies such as Sunbird, a leading data center solutions provider.

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