The importance of Data Center Infrastructure Management
Posted on August 14th, 2013
Groundbreaking developments like cloud computing, big data, and IT consumerization shape today’s data center industry. In this highly competitive market, the necessity to manage large amounts of data poses a challenge to data center owners. On the one hand, data center environments grow in complexity but on the other hand, they have to be efficient and agile to stay competitive. Although every data center is unique, a growing number of owners turn to standardized Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solutions, a relatively novice but already well-established tool in the field of data center management.
What is Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)?
The first commercial DCIM tools were introduced to the data center industry not earlier than in 2011. In a nutshell, DCIM offers data center managers greater insights into their data center environments. It provides holistic information of complex environments essential for all monitoring, managing, and planning related efforts within a data center.
Research firm, Gartner, defines DCIM as follows:
“Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools monitor, measure, manage and/or control data center utilization and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment (such as servers, storage and network switches) and facility infrastructure components (such as power distribution units [PDUs] and computer room air conditioners [CRACs]).”*
DCIM tools are valuable because they bring formerly separate tools together to deliver comprehensible information of all resources within a data center. Thus, they can be used to increase the overall efficiency, to optimize the performance of certain parts, to facilitate the planning process, and to decrease the operational costs of a data center.
Energy efficiency, capacity planning, and performance management
Energy efficiency is an essential area of data center management that can be monitored by DCIM systems. It is a cumbersome process to measure the energy consumption of a data center. The latter includes the IT equipment, the power distribution infrastructure, and the ventilation/cooling infrastructure just to name the main parameters. DCIM tools automatically track the energy use by all elements of data center, making in easier to track down sources of energy wastage and to eliminate them. According to a recent article, “after implementing DCIM, many data centers are able to reduce their power consumption by 15-25 percent, or more.”**
Capacity planning is another important area of data center management that can be facilitated by DCIM. Tying in with energy efficiency, DCIM can help to trace unused physical, cooling, and power capacities in an attempt to decrease operation costs and to increase the overall efficiency of a data center. Thus, data center managers can optimize capacity planning without running the risk of overloading or exceeding power.
A third element of data center hosting benefiting from DCIM is overall performance management. DCIM tools automatically collect holistic infrastructure data about the servers, racks, rooms, and even multiple data center facilities on a regional and global scale. That equips data center owners/managers with up-to-the-minute information of each and every part of their facilities.
Future outlook of DCIM
Industry experts, vendors and buyers project high growth for DCIM solutions. According to a recent article, the market is likely to be dominated by a mix of a few major players as well as several smaller vendors.***
DCIM software is likely to mature at great speed with new, innovative functionalities such as automated asset location systems and feature-rich mobile applications among others.
In sum, “As DCIM continues to mature and the cost to build and operate a data center increase, the ROI for these products will continue to improve.”***
* Gartner. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/data-center-infrastructure-management-dcim/
** Onyshkevych, S. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2013/01/08/top-five-data-center-issues-dcim-to-the-rescue/
***Potts, M. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2012/06/07/the-future-of-dcim/