How to overcome DCIM challenges?

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IT and business executives have realized that hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy and operational costs can be saved by improved physical infrastructure planning, by minor system reconfiguration, and by small process changes

Aniket Patange, director, Data Center Life Cycle Services, Schneider Electric

BANGALORE, INDIA: According to Gartner, the total addressable DCIM market will reach $1.7 billion by 2016. However, initially, some data center managers were never sold on first generation physical infrastructure management tools because the tools were limited in scope and involved considerable human intervention.

However, newer management tools are designed to identify and resolve issues with a minimum amount of human intervention. IT and business executives have realized that hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy and operational costs can be saved by improved physical infrastructure planning, by minor system reconfiguration, and by small process changes.

The systems which allow management to leverage these savings consist of modern data center physical infrastructure (i.e., power and cooling) management software tools. Legacy reporting systems, designed to support traditional data centers, are no longer adequate for new 'agile' data centers that need to manage constant capacity changes and dynamic loads.

By correlating power, cooling and space resources to individual servers, DCIM tools today can proactively inform IT management systems of potential physical infrastructure problems and how they might impact specific IT loads.

Some data center operators do not use any physical infrastructure management tools. This can be risky. One operator who only managed 15 racks at a small manufacturing firm, for example, felt that the data center operations 'tribal knowledge' he had acquired over the years could help him handle any threatening situation. However, over time, his 15 racks became much denser. His energy bills went up and his cooling and power systems drifted out of balance. At one point, when he added a new server, he overloaded a branch circuit and took down an entire rack.

New management software Planning & Implementation tools improve IT room allocation of power and cooling (planning), provide rapid impact analysis when a portion of the IT room fails (operations), and leverage historical data to improve future IT room performance (analysis). Particularly in a highly virtualized and dynamic cloud environment, this real-time awareness of constantly changing power and cooling capacities is important for safe server placement.

These more intelligent tools also enable IT to inform the lines of business of the consequences of their actions before server provisioning decisions are made. They also help in energy saving by enabling IT room operators to support load shifting.

However, a number of challenges may arise while deploying the perfect Data Center Infrastructure Management solution. A given project can be well designed - involving the right type of multidisciplinary team on the customer side to properly identify business requirements, and to help scope and specify the software solution. The vendor and the customer team may even have done an adequate job of identifying needed integration to other systems used in the data center, and specified the integration services into the project.

All this, and yet in some cases, months after go live, the DCIM deployment doe not quite stack up to expectations.

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