How to Pick the Right DCIM Software and Compare Costs

Written by Nate Josephs

Sr. Systems Engineer/Data Center Manager
In the previous Tips from a Data Center Manager blog, I discussed the benefits of DCIM by describing six valuable features it provides.  These features include: floor plans and rack views, real-time monitoring, “what-if” scenario creation, future capacity forecasting, integration with other tools, and online dashboards.  Unfortunately, organizations often become paralyzed trying to choose the right DCIM software and become confused trying to compare costs.  The following is the second in a series of three DCIM articles that identifies challenges in selecting DCIM and how to overcome those challenges.

With multiple DCIM products in the market, sifting through features of each DCIM product in order to find the right DCIM tool for an organization can be daunting.  Each DCIM software company describes their features differently and with varying amounts of detail.  They also use different terminology for similar concepts.  For instance, one DCIM vendor may use the term “Gnomes” when discussing IT device databases while another uses the term “assets”. This results in ambiguity and more questions for potential DCIM customers trying to confirm if a product is right for them.

Creating a weighted-score matrix solves the challenge of comparing DCIM products.  This matrix is created by listing all features needed using consistent terminology and numerically ranking each feature by level of importance.  More points are given to the most important features and less points to least important ones.  Let’s call this the “importance ranking”.  A second set of points are assigned when evaluating how well each DCIM software addresses the desired features. Let’s call this the “DCIM evaluation score”.  By multiplying the importance ranking by DCIM evaluation score, a weighted score is created for each feature for each DCIM product evaluated.  Each DCIM product’s weighted scores are then totaled up.  The product with the most points wins.

Comparing costs between DCIM products can be confusing due to varying ways customers are billed.  DCIM vendors may charge based on number of racks, square footage, number of licenses, or by quantity of devices uploaded.  Difficulty in comparing costs is further compounded when trying to factor in implementation, customization, training and any additional hidden costs.  For example, is training onsite, or offered remotely?  If onsite, are the trainer’s travel costs already included upfront, or will these costs be extra?

Creating a DCIM implementation plan makes comparing DCIM costs possible. This plan should include details on how many racks, number of data centers, what will be tracked, number of DCIM users, how many reports are needed, number of IT devices, quantity of monitoring points, level of technical support desired, how users will be trained, etc.  Comparing each DCIM software’s cost based on these details will reveal total cost of ownership that encompasses all hardware and software, technical support, and future upgrades necessary to support the implementation plan.  The DCIM implementation plan and cost comparison must have timeframes.  For example, one data center will be loaded into DCIM initially and two more data centers will be added after a year.  DCIM vendors can provide an accurate cost breakdown of their software based on a solid DCIM implementation plan.

Choosing the right software and comparing DCIM costs can be overwhelming.  By creating a DCIM features weighted-score matrix and a DCIM implementation plan, prospective DCIM customers can confidently choose the right DCIM solution and clearly understand its total cost of ownership.


Be sure to check back here soon for the next installment in our series of Valuable features offered by DCIM.