Why DCIM software and hardware tools need a place in your data center

What's not to like about energy efficiency and simplified capacity planning? DCIM adoption continues to lag, but it's time for that to change.

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DCIM software and hardware have become hot topics in the data center market. In fact, at the recent Data Center World trade show, nearly 20% of the sessions were focused on the topic.

Topics included:

  • Sorting through the hype
  • Asset management with DCIM
  • Methods to determine if you’re ready for DCIM

It’s clear that there is no shortage of information on data center infrastructure management (DCIM) as well as the value it can provide to an organization. The goal is that through holistic, real-time visibility of the data center, users can synchronize their physical infrastructures with their dynamic and rapidly changing virtual environments.

The potential benefits of DCIM are also well-publicized. Used properly, DCIM software or hardware-based systems can make the data center more efficient, assists in the reduction of PUE and simplifies capacity planning and management. Improved availability is also frequently cited as a significant benefit to data center managers. As data centers grow, complexity usually increases and management effectiveness usually decreases, creating a need for DCIM tools.

Why DCIM adoption remains low

But in spite of the published benefits, adoption rates of DCIM tools appear to be low. Data center managers are typically conservative when implementing new technologies, and for good reason. With more than 50 different DCIM products on the market today, there are a lot of options to consider.

In addition to criteria such as feature set functionality, buyers must seriously consider the long-term viability of individual providers, since most are small, venture-backed firms. Market consolidation has already begun, creating some uncertainty in the market.

Furthermore, clients that have deployed DCIM say their expectations have not been met -- not necessarily from any lack of functionality or features, but more importantly, a lack of internal processes for maintaining the tools’ effectiveness. Data centers can be hectic, fast-changing environments with demanding end users unwilling to wait for proper protocol.

Somewhere between necessity and efficiency lies a perfect world in which DCIM tools directly benefit the data center environment as designed. My sense is that DCIM tools will ultimately lend themselves better to engagements with existing service providers. These companies stand to benefit most from the efficiencies that DCIM can deliver to their processes, and they will eventually choose the best products to incorporate into their data center offerings.

This was first published in November 2013

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