There’s this apocryphal story about the guy who gets lost in Ireland and eventually has to swallow his pride (male ego?) and ask for directions. As chance would have it, there’s an old fellow sitting outside his cottage. When the tourist describes where he wants to go, the old man nods sagely and tells him that if he was heading there he shouldn’t really be starting here.
I think there’s a bit of a tendency for that sort of thing to happen when data center professionals embark on a journey with DCIM. So I have it in mind to write a short series of blogs to try and help through that process. Along the way, we’ll have a look at what some DCIM users have to say too. Their experiences are quite telling and there may be some situations you relate to.
As with any journey, it all starts with planning: what do you want to achieve, what do you think is the best route? Are you going it alone or are there people you need to bring along with you? Are you aiming to go straight to your end point, or are your first steps with DCIM a part of a wider or more comprehensive voyage? And, of course, how much baggage have you already got?
Step 1: Focus on your data center needs
Despite recent withdrawals, consolidations and sales, there remains a large number of DCIM vendors to choose from. So it’s important to consider whether a solution focussed on a single aspect of data center infrastructure management is going to have the legs to work for you should your facility requirement expand or become more complex.
I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a bad DCIM package, however, the amount of choice can be confusing. The Schneider Electric white paper “Classification of Data Center Management Software Tools” provides an overview of which management systems are necessary and which are optional for secure and efficient data center operation. It may help you identify what functionality isn’t required so you can start to focus on what is!
Step 2: Keep your options open
The most effective DCIM systems require a full and accurate picture of power, cooling, space and IT usage, as well as their dependencies. Ideally they want to gather data points continuously and in real time to optimise and possibly, automate, decision making. However, in order to do so, DCIM applications need to be able to communicate with physical devices as well as other software, both in the facility and IT layers.
When selecting a DCIM package, it’s important to ask any potential vendor which protocols are supported and compare them to the protocols supported by the equipment and devices to be managed. Ask for a list of actual API’s together with typical examples of use, and ask your candidate vendor to describe the process required to share data between the DCIM server and other management systems such as the BMS or VM manager.
Step 3: Pick your travelling companions
Commitment, ownership and shared knowledge are essential for the successful implementation of any management system. Since DCIM’s scope extends across both facilities and IT, teamwork is required to ensure that the package gets fully implemented and utilised. As we’ll see later in this series, being aware of this from the outset will not only help get buy-in, but will also increase the value of DCIM to the organisation.
The most obvious example is in bridging the so-called gap between data center and IT professionals, but it really pays dividends to think about all the stakeholders that will be affected as the management of data center resources is made more transparent and efficient. There’s some good advice available to you in a free white paper “Avoiding Common Pitfalls of Evaluating and Implementing DCIM Solutions.”
Watch out for the next blog in this series. In the meantime, I hope the following video – “A Kerryman Gives Directions” will entertain you as you follow your own path to successful DCIM implementation.