I was encouraged to see 451 Research’s latest review of the market for data center software and was thinking about how it meets the reality of what we’re experiencing in the DCIM software team at Schneider Electric. Although the survey was published a couple of months ago, it would be remiss not to pass some comment on some of the findings of such an important analysis of our market. 451 Research is part of the same Group that owns Uptime Institute, so they’re intimately connected to our industry and got involved with DCIM at the ground floor – so they know their stuff.
One of the stated aims of 451 Market Monitor: Datacenter Infrastructure Management Systems is to provide bottom up, market-sizing. 451 Research forecasts 42% compound annual growth (CAGR) over the next five years from $320m (2011) to $1.8b (2016). As a company which has been consistently highlighted as a key vendor of DCIM software (most recently by IDC in their Worldwide Datacenter Infrastructure Management 2013 Vendor Analysis), at Schneider Electric we’re excited to see these sorts of numbers.
But although the headline number is good – a slight increase on last years’ forecast – beneath it lies a rate of adoption that is slower than first predicted. Customers/ potential customers are reportedly still unclear about the return on investment (ROI) for DCIM software, which is described as “soft”. What’s more, 451 Research tracks 54 vendors of point solutions and software suites which together comprise the DCIM landscape. There’s no shortage of choice if you’re in the market for DCIM.
Followers of Schneider Electric may have noticed our recent introduction of software systems which meet specific requirements for individual market segments. Following on from this, you can expect to see announcements of some big integrations of our software with leading colocation service providers. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward – these companies are absolutely clear about the value which data center software contributes in a very connected way.
Because energy is a big cost which affects the competitiveness of colocation offerings, both the management board (i.e., the “C-level” executives) and the sales floor take a big interest in the efficiency of their facilities. Since capacity is a key part of the offering, DCIM outputs are as interesting to sales for commercial purposes as they are to the people that manage the data center for engineering uses. These are just a couple of examples, but the point is that the value of the software is felt throughout these organisations and that far from being soft, ROI is delivered on multiple planes.
But by way of balance, and somewhat anecdotally, we’ve also met with companies who are far from happy with the results they’ve achieved using data center software. Whether it would be fair to suggest their dissatisfaction has been caused by the practices of companies whose investment in sales and marketing outweighs that put aside for software development, almost universally these users were expecting a silver bullet but ended up holding a lemon.
What seems clear from 451 Research and from our experiences working across a variety of data centers, is that if you are considering a DCIM implementation ill advised selection or overcooked levels of expectation criteria can radically affect both the choice of toolset and its ability to deliver detectable value. Schneider Electric white paper 170, “Avoiding common pitfalls of evaluating and implementing DCIM systems” is a good starting point. But if you’re already using DCIM in your data center, I’d be very interested for you to share your experience on this blog using the comments section.