Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) started as an element of building information modeling (BIM) software, which is used by facilities managers to create digital schematic diagrams. DCIM tools bring the same functionality to data centers, allowing managers to collate, store, and analyze power and cooling related data in real-time. Most tools allow diagrams to be printed — a useful feature when a repair is required, or when new hardware has to be installed by data center administrators.
Role of data center infrastructure management in the management of data centers
Ad-hoc data center management tools may work for a specific point task, but often such software may not work together adequately to address popular and often complex issues, such as finding out where new servers can be carried out, finding stranded power capacity, or something as basic as getting a better understanding of what assets organizations have stored in a data center.
Data center infrastructure management software provides data center operations administrators with the ability to identify, locate, visualize and manage the properties in physical data center assets, rapidly supply new equipment and effectively plan future growth capacity. Additionally, DCIM tools can help manage energy prices, improve the design of data centers, and increase operational efficiency. Implementing a data center network infrastructure offers major organizational and cost-saving opportunities to data center operations administrators and their companies today and into the future.
Top 3 trends of the data center landscape
Private clouds make up the bulk of corporate cloud services
Many companies move to the cloud but they don't want to give up control yet. Companies are using data centers to deploy private cloud services at a growing pace, with more than 28 percent of cloud spending centered on the private cloud.
Products such as Azure Stack are used to deliver cloud infrastructure to business users, without removing their data from the corporate-controlled environment. Where necessary, public cloud infrastructures are used but end users don't and shouldn't care where their services come from. Data centers tend to house resources that are too essential to bring into the hands of another.
Colocation continues to thrive
Companies locate resources where they are most needed but have no incentive to create their centralized facilities. Investing in colocation means that they can place the task of running a data center in the hands of companies specializing in this. This strategy puts IT back its original business focus: providing the enterprise with a service.
The IT team will reconsider the business needs from its data center, from a few racks in a colocation facility to stand-alone micro data centers to the very trite "data center in a box" concept. And the Line-of-Business (LOB) would be the guiding force behind the success of the future datacenter.
Management takes center stage
Although the conventional data center network operations center remains essential, the overall management system is changing to allow end-to-end views of data center operations as well as cloud-based infrastructure in both public and private clouds.
Data center operators must be able to integrate operations into that view so that LOB IT can get an accurate view of how applications are running, regardless of location, and ensure service delivery is on track, regardless of provider. It goes beyond going into tools for running the data center network and looking into business operations management. For both legacy and modern architectures, the software-defined data center (SDDC) is the basic architecture for data center operations.
Why is it important to manage data center infrastructure?
Greater visibility into the physical infrastructure
The data center infrastructure management software integrates all IT infrastructure monitoring into a single system. Administrators know at a glance how to configure their data center environment, what resources are assigned to which physical or virtual services, and how the resources are being used. It is much more effective than having to work it out manually and to record it on spreadsheets.
The data center infrastructure management platform continually tracks the network of critical facilities. It polls equipment, reports data, and tracks trends and threshold breaches. This facilitates the identification of vulnerabilities which may lead to machine failure. Data center operators can proactively troubleshoot with built-in alerts — and cope with possible environmental, network, and power-related device problems before they become issues.
Data center infrastructure management solutions and services help enterprises to simplify routine manual activities such as data replication and storage reclamation — and reduce human error capacity, which accounts for up to 80 percent of all data center outages. With less day-to-day logistical duties to perform, IT managers have more resources to devote to business decisions at a higher level.
Next-generation of data center infrastructure management
The purpose of the next generation DCIM is to address these problems. It executes the same basic functions as conventional DCIM, but instead of on-premises, it is hosted in the cloud which unlocks significant new functionality. Since it is offered in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, it is much easier to implement next-generation DCIM than its premises-based counterpart — customers can get up and running in a single day.
Software, firmware, and security patches are provided automatically, and a cloud-based storage server allows for disaster recovery. Next-generation data center infrastructure management also uses tools such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML). By comparing the real-time performance of the network of a specific customer to the projected baseline, it will detect where a particular feature is straying from the baseline and needs preventive maintenance.
This helps to cut down on downtime and maintenance costs. Instead of performing maintenance on a scheduled basis, whether it is needed or not, maintenance only takes place when it is required. Next-generation data center infrastructure management is also a good fit for edge data centers which probably have few or no on-site IT staff. At edge sites, no software is needed, so they can be remotely controlled — from any computer that supports a web browser.
The bottom line
The data center infrastructure management market has come on leaps and bounds. Many early providers with solutions that are incomplete and difficult to use are no longer commercially viable options. Customers who deployed and experienced first-generation solutions are now much smarter to vote out those failed vendors.
With the advent of second-generation DCIM, the class of new, elegant software that evolved from the legacy products, users now record-high levels of satisfaction and high return on investment. Second-generation DCIM integrates improved monitoring and operating features versions with better functionality and improved usability for modern data center environments.