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Data Center Infrastructure Management

Data Center Infrastructure Management

Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) has, quite simply, been a buzzword in the IT/data center business for years now. And yet ignorance often prevails regarding what DCIM actually is, and what its purpose is. 

The market for DCIM software is very confusing. According to 451 research, there are approximately 75 suppliers, and this figure would climb even higher if smaller or local businesses were included.

In addition to this mass of suppliers, many manufacturers only offer individual bits of an "actual" DCIM, or only have expertise in certain areas.

To put it in general terms, DCIM is a tool for managing data centers. Basically, it is the data center's ERP system, with extensions such as CRM (customer relationship management), energy monitoring, etc.

So, many manufacturers may talk about DCIM, but perhaps only offer power monitoring and power management, for example. However, these only form part of the complete DCIM solution. As a rule, this happens because the monitoring of power or cooling can deliver especially high savings, therefore allowing the costs of a software solution to be directly calculated in terms of ROI. This makes it easier to justify the purchase of this type of software.

The savings achieved with management tools, on the other hand, are more difficult to calculate as an ROI. Therefore, their purchase is mostly hard to justify. What's more, many data centers use tools they have written themselves. Even Excel worksheets are still widely popular. Introduction even in these areas – combined with alarm management and workflows – can quickly convert into ROI and increase reliability and availability. Microsoft, for example, is convinced that the benefits and savings provided by a DCIM solution can best be achieved with standardized hardware.

It may not be possible to convert the purchase of a DCIM solution directly into an ROI. But it offers the customer added value and therefore raises customer satisfaction.

Some large suppliers are able to offer a complete DCIM solution. However, as a rule these solutions are extremely complex, time-consuming and expensive, and therefore would probably not come into question for many potential customers.

If you are interested in DCIM and are considering buying a system, you should note the following points: 

  1. Decide exactly what you need the tool to do before you begin your research.
  2. One you have defined your requirements and objectives, pick out a few manufacturers who cover precisely these areas.
  3. From these manufacturers, you should select those who offer the most upgradable and open system possible (manufacturer upgrades for other fields, or interfaces to other tools/environments).
  4. From the manufacturers that you have left, take a closer look at those who best satisfy your requirements and set objectives.
  5. Finally, choose the manufacturer with whom you can best imagine working together.

It is also important to bear in mind that the cheapest manufacturer is not necessarily the right one. Conversely, the most expensive manufacturer is not necessarily the best!