Six Valuable Features Offered by DCIM
Written by Nate Josephs
Sr. Systems Engineer/Data Center Manager
Prior to data center infrastructure management (DCIM), data center managers struggled to gather data center infrastructure data to understand existing capacity, view monitoring points, predict and proactively plan for future capacity needs, or integrate with existing systems. Data was collected from disparate sources, manually entered and was merely a snapshot in time soon to be outdated. These struggles were eliminated by taking advantage of some valuable features DCIM offers. The following is the first article in a series of three regarding DCIM. In this article I will discuss six valuable features DCIM provides.
Floor Plans and Rack Views – DCIM takes floor plans and front/back of rack drawings to another level by providing stencils of various IT equipment to be dragged n dropped into drawings. These stencils include make, model, dimensions, weight, estimated power draw, etc. which help in creating detailed drawings and generating accurate power and cooling capacity numbers. By clicking on racks within the floor plan, a rack’s front or rear view automatically appears for users to place and view equipment within that rack.
Real-time Monitoring – DCIM bridges the gap between facilities and IT monitoring by importing monitoring points from both facilities and IT equipment. Combining all monitoring points into DCIM provides a holistic view of data center power consumption and temperatures with timely readings. Power consumption monitoring data reduces risk by identifying which equipment is oversubscribed and saves money by revealing which equipment is idling and can be decommissioned or reallocated. Temperature monitoring reduces risk by preventing hot spots and can save money if temperatures indicate the data center is over cooled.
Creating “What If” Scenarios – DCIM can be used for in-depth proactive planning by creating virtual “what if” scenarios. For example, redundancy can be validated in an A/B configuration by turning off the A-side PDU within the DCIM software vs. real life to confirm a B-side PDU and all downstream electrical connections can handle the failover power load. Another example, effects on space, power and cooling capacity can be seen if a rack with high-density servers is inserted in DCIM prior to actually being installed. Creating these “what if” scenarios ensures power capacity is within limits before actually committing to a move, add or change.
Forecasting Future Capacity – Another way DCIM provides proactive planning is by forecasting the amount of future space, power and cooling capacity needed based on historical trends and predictive analysis which is then projected into the future over a given period of time. Forecasting avoids overprovisioning and reactionary OPEX spending.
Integration With Other Tools – By using an asset’s unique identifier such as a serial number, DCIM can integrate with a company’s IT Service Management (ITSM) and their configuration management database (CMDB). This eliminates duplicate spreadsheets and databases; provides awareness to all key stakeholders of any data center moves adds and changes; and ensures each asset’s lifecycle status is accurate and up to date.
Online Dashboards – Viewing datacenter capacity numbers, alarms, and alerts at a glance from anywhere at any time is a must for most data center managers responsible for multiple data centers. Most DCIM products respond to this need by offering real-time dashboards via a web browser. These dashboards show capacity numbers and alarms, but also reveal true costs to run certain services, ensure compliance by performing audits, and save time by providing easy access to any ad hoc reports needed.
As a data center manager, if you are having difficulty gathering meaningful and timely data about your data center, or the data comes from disparate sources, entered in antiquated spreadsheets or drawn on old floor plans, consider upgrading to DCIM. Upgrading to DCIM will allow you to reduce risk, save time, and lower your data center’s operating costs by taking advantage of these six valuable features.