Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) has drawn a lot of industry buzz lately as the next step in the greening of the enterprise.
But while the concept is clear enough ? essentially the integration of data and application management, systems and resource management and power/cooling/facilities management ? implementation is shaping up to be a bear. After all, many organizations struggle to work out the many kinks in just one of these stacks, let alone get all three to work together in a cohesive manner.
A number of new approaches are striving to simplify DCIM, however. The most direct way to do this is through entry-level versions of higher-end systems. This is the tack nlyte Software has taken with its nlyte Express Edition, which provides a data-driven, visual representation of the data center that can then be used to guide system deployment and alterations. The platform is available on a subscription model and can be upgraded on a gradual basis as requirements and budgets grow.
Higher-end systems, of course, provide a more comprehensive view of the data center, along with tools like predictive analysis and resource planning to help determine the impact that proposed changes will have on performance and operational costs. Altima Technologies recently released the NetZoomDC Enterprise platform that features role-based security modules, capacity planning and change management and predictive analysis as a means to ensure peak resource utilization. The system also features tenant management and chargeback tools, port-connectivity management and Microsoft's Visio rack and floor diagramming solution.
A key element in DCIM is the ability to drill down into systems and even components at certain operational conditions. Viridity Software has gone about this task by integrating Intel's Data Center Manager SDK into its EnergyCenter system. The combo allows IT and facility managers to gather data like operating temperatures from their server infrastructure, even before baseline profiles are completed.
In a similar vein, Raritan recently released a new asset management tag and sensor system that collects real-time information in IT assets. The idea is to provide each server with a unique ID that can be used to track their movement as they are redeployed throughout the data center. This helps operators test out various power and cooling configurations and improves monitoring by the company's dcTrack DCIM solution.
The chief benefit to DCIM is that it puts both IT and facilities management on the same playing field. Usually, these groups end up working at cross purposes due to their specific areas of responsibility, even if their ultimate goals, namely efficiency and productivity, are the same. A unified platform that covers the data environment and the building that houses it will go a long way toward streamlining the complex legacy environments that have evolved over the years.
It won't be an easy task, but the rewards should be substantial.