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Evolving DCIM market shows automation, convergence top IT's wish list

Growth continues in the DCIM market, but shows signs of slowing down, as IT teams look for a new generation of tools that can help them consolidate management tasks.

As the data center changes, it creates a ripple effect in the data center infrastructure management marketplace....

Businesses are moving away from manual system installation and troubleshooting to more automated systems. Consequently, as IT teams' interest in data center infrastructure management grows, their wish lists are shifting; businesses are focusing less on system monitoring and more on integration, automation and analytics.

As a result, the data center infrastructure management (DCIM) market is evolving in a number of ways.

Competition is tough in DCIM market

Awareness about DCIM functionality is now widespread, and DCIM market growth continues -- although not as quickly as some might think. IDC reported worldwide revenue of $558.5 million in 2015, a number expected to grow to over $1 billion in 2020.

"DCIM revenue is growing, but a bit slower than some of the initial projections," said Jennifer Cooke, research director for IDC's datacenter trends and strategies team. IDC recently lowered its revenue forecast expectations because of deep discounting in competitive DCIM bids.

Consolidation is more evidence of market maturation. In November 2015, CA Technologies, which had high-profile customers like Facebook and NTT, exited the DCIM market, and Nlyte acquired FieldView Solutions in February 2016.

Creating a cohesive whole

DCIM revenue is growing, but a bit slower than some of the initial projections.
Jennifer Cookeresearch director for IDC's Datacenter Trends and Strategies team

To garner acceptance in an increasingly competitive market, DCIM suppliers aim to better meet organizations' needs. Rather than monitor their distinct data center systems, enterprises are consolidating data center equipment. There is a trend in the enterprise to move from stand-alone servers to converged infrastructure that combines server, storage and network functions.

In addition, IT teams want to extend the purview of data center management systems to energy and building management. They are trying to break down long-standing system silos and oversee all of data center elements from a single pane of glass.

For this to work, a DCIM tool needs to feed data into other IT management systems. In response, DCIM market vendors are developing new, integrated tools through partnerships with IT management suppliers. Nlyte Software, for example, has built connectors from its tools to management systems from BMC Software, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ServiceNow. Schneider Electric integrated its DCIM offering, StruxureWare for Data Centers, with HPE's Universal Configuration Management Database, and Emerson Network Power partnered with IBM to integrate Emerson's Trellis DCIM suite into IBM's ITSM product.

DCIM features evolve

The goal, however, is not to simply connect DCIM tools with other IT management systems.

"Companies want to be able to take action based on the information that the integrated systems generate," said Andy Lawrence, research vice president of data center technologies and eco-efficient IT at 451 Research.

Data volumes double every few years, but IT budgets are increasing at low, single-digit rates. As a result, data center managers are having trouble keeping up with the volumes of information.

The 'single pane of glass' conundrum

DCIM tools create challenges, as well as opportunities.

"With DCIM, many corporations have been through the early deployment stage, understand the potential pain points, and realize that successfully deploying DCIM solutions is a lot of work," Cooke said. Organizations need time, effort and money to deploy these systems and, sometimes, the return on investment is hard to decipher.

In trying to create a single management pane of glass, they often give up the functionality found in platform-specific tools, and end up with just one interface into a complex mishmash of systems.

Consequently, users want DCIM products to be more than just monitoring tools; they want to weave them into the data center tapestry. Combining a DCIM tool with change management software creates new automation possibilities. For instance, a company could automatically generate a work order, which indicates the rack and position where an add-on device can be installed, specifies the devices and ports that will be connected -- such as power, LAN and cables -- and links that information to relevant applications.

Predictive analytics, which help organizations make better, faster and more informed decisions, is another example. DCIM tools could work with environmental probes that measure rack, row and room temperatures and humidity levels. Analytics determine which areas in the data center need more cooling than others, and which AC units may be turned off at certain times of the day.

Analytics are also extending to areas such as financial performance. Here, software models the IT costs for current or new projects, so IT pros can build stronger cases for expenditures.

Next Steps

Promises vs. realities with DCIM tools

How to pick the right DCIM tools

DCIM, BIM combine for effective data center management

This was last published in October 2016

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What new capabilities do you look for in a DCIM tool?
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Unless DCIM is truly integrated with CMDB, it becomes very difficult to really understand the impact of change and/or failure of one component on another, including the facility infrastructure. Based on my experience, most of the DCIM product is able to build a good relationship on the physical level but not so much aware about the virtual world, such as VM and applications (although some basic integrations of VM with DCIM software are available).

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