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DCIM software implementation, cloud use on the rise in data centers

More data centers rely on cloud and colocation providers, and many now use DCIM software, an Uptime Institute survey found. Here's why.

Moving data offsite to a cloud or colocation provider and using data center infrastructure management tools are common practices in enterprise data centers, while only a small percentage of companies take advantage of modular data centers.

Third-party data centers such as cloud providers and colocation are growing, said Matt Stansberry, director of content for publications at Uptime Institute, an independent division of 451 Research based in New York. Part of the reason is convenience.

Most companies are using [DCIM] because it gives them a tool to monitor how much they're spending and why.

David Cappuccio,
vice president and chief of research for infrastructure, Gartner Inc.

"It's simpler and a lot easier to get a bill [from a service provider] than to ask someone in-house who might not understand what they're doing or seeing," Stansberry said. "You can plan strategies and business forecasts when you have performance numbers and a bill in front of you."

DCIM software takes hold

Companies also rely on data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools more, according to Uptime Institute's 2013 Annual Data Center Industry survey of 1,000 global data center and IT employees. Thirty-eight percent of respondents have deployed DCIM software, the survey found.

In last year's survey, many respondents said they deployed and used features and functions that could be viewed as elements of DCIM, but those features weren't integrated into any kind of system. They were looking for a suite of DCIM tools to help determine future capacity requirements.

Recent IDC data also reflects the growing popularity of DCIM software.

Worldwide DCIM revenue from 2011 to 2013 increased from over $247 million to over $426 million, according to IDC. Revenue is expected to jump to over $690 million by 2016. In total, from 2011 to 2016, DCIM software's compound annual growth rate is expected to be 22.8%.

"Most companies are using it because it gives them a tool to monitor how much they're spending and why," said David Cappuccio, vice president and chief of research for infrastructure at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., an IT and research advisory company. "If things are being monitored, they can see what's being used and what isn't. It's a good way to get more efficiency out [of] the IT equipment and data center floor space."

With DCIM software, an enterprise can reduce consumption by 10% to 15% on a month-by-month basis, he added.

"[DCIM monitors] energy consumption and thermals of a data center," said Jennifer Koppy, research manager for data infrastructure at IDC Corp., a technology and advisory firm based in Framingham, Mass. "It's a map and the end goal is to be able to open up the map and see what you're using."

Colocations have also begun to offer DCIM to give enterprises even more control.

"If you have a colocation relationship and they're offering a DCIM-lite package for free, you do it because you can learn about the software and get your toes wet without making an investment," Koppy said.

Data outsourcing trend continues

While more companies use the cloud, many store data both on the cloud and on-premises. For some enterprises, it makes sense to move certain apps to the cloud, but not all of them.

Moving those apps to the cloud allows IT to eliminate maintenance and the problems associated with maintaining their own systems.

"[Adopting cloud services] allows a company to focus money on other core resources and their business," said IDC's Koppy. "You're paying a monthly fee for computing resources, so you know where you're spending money."

This year, 43% of respondents to the Uptime Institute survey listed customer demand as a reason for cloud adoption, compared with just 13% in 2012. Forty percent of respondents adopt cloud services because it saves them money.

Software as a Service will still be the largest public IT cloud service through 2017 (57.9% in 2017), according to statistics from IDC. Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service will grow 29.7% and 27.2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, colocations are popular because they allow an enterprise to lease space for their own computing equipment -- affording them a higher level of security than multi-tenant public clouds. It can also save companies in terms of facility costs.

"It's easier to budget because costs are on a month-by-month operation," Cappuccio said. "The building is already built and [is] being managed, and all the mechanical equipment is managed too."

Modular data center interest low

While prefabricated modular data centers are intriguing, the market for them hasn't gained much traction.

Only 8% of data center operators have deployed one of these and another 8% plan to, according to the survey. Another 53% of the respondents said they had no interest in anything to do with modular data centers.

"It has slowed down, but it isn't going to take over the marketplace," Cappuccio said. "It's an alternative and they aren't cheap. You have to supply it with electricity and all your equipment."

But it takes only about 14 weeks to deliver a modular data center, compared to a few years to build a data center.

However, there are a few reasons why these containerized data centers haven't hit double digit adoption numbers.

"One is people don't understand what they are," Stansberry said. "People think they're just a container. But it's broader than that. Another is that people don't think it applies to how they deploy data center space. It takes a sophisticated enterprise to understand the benefits of prefabs."

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