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What can I expect from data center infrastructure management tools?

Should facilities and IT teams agree on one cohesive DCIM tool for everything in the data center? Are DCIM vendors offering that?

Data centers require a single data center infrastructure management (DCIM) platform that models, measures, monitors, reports and plans "what if" scenarios on a dashboard that all stakeholders can use.

Vendors create data center infrastructure management tools from the IT side or the facilities side. While none yet bridge the gap fully -- creating a useful tool for the IT team, the facilities management team, end users and line of business managers -- some DCIM vendors show promise.

Much of the required basic tools for a comprehensive view of the data center are already in place, including simple network management protocol traps, systems management tools, and specific products to manage storage and networks as well as power and cooling. A DCIM product must combine these tools and present a clear and corporately valuable data center dashboard. Big data tools are certainly going to help here, but the whole system also must be flexible enough to embrace hybrid cloud.

The major problem lies in how to implement this single platform. There are too many stakeholders involved for simple ownership; all users want to be the main decision maker. I recommend pulling together all the existing tools used by data center facility and IT teams, rather than trying to implement a new ubiquitous tool, so that specialists can continue to work with their favorite system.

A monitoring and management tool that pulls together disparate information in a contextually meaningful way allows those on the facilities management and IT sides to work against the same information. Data center infrastructure management tools such as Emerson Network Power's Trellis or Nlyte Software's suite provide an overreaching system with the capacity to incorporate details from multiple inputs and generate what-if scenarios and reports for higher-level stakeholders, including C-level executives.

As the mix of systems within a private data center, a colocation space and the public clouds increases, the concept of a data center will change. The DCIM tools that sit over the top of the overall platform will have to recognize that data centers are part of the overall asset mix to monitor. Managing individual data centers is not contextually useful when it comes to the greater IT platform itself. Expect an increase in DCIM as a service providers, which will act as the means to aggregate, analyze and report on data across more complex IT platforms.

About the author:
Clive Longbottom is the co-founder and service director of IT research and analysis firm Quocirca, based in the U.K. Longbottom has more than 15 years of experience in the field. With a background in chemical engineering, he's worked on automation, control of hazardous substances, document management and knowledge management projects.

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