Vendor Tech Talk

Aug 7 2013   3:57PM GMT

Connecting the Dots in the Data Center – DCIM and ITSM

Posted by: Nlyte Software
Data Center
IT assets

by Mark Harris

As a general rule of thumb, the more connected your data center information management (DCIM) solution is to your existing IT management frameworks, the more strategic your DCIM deployment will be. The more connected the solution is, the larger the population of users will be. The larger the population is, the more financial impact DCIM will have in your organization.

DCIM is a fairly new category of IT management solution and is has loosely coupled definitions depending on who you are talking to. As a point of reference, DCIM is defined by the industry analyst firm, Gartner, as the integration of information technology (IT) and facility management disciplines to centralize monitoring, management and intelligent capacity planning of a data center’s critical systems. Achieved through the implementation of specialized software, hardware and sensors, DCIM will enable a common, real-time monitoring and management platform for all interdependent systems across IT and facility infrastructures.

The analysts’ definitions vary a bit and in general are very broad which has created an environment with vendors popping up daily with their own interpretation.  In general, DCIM tools provide real-time information about the physical assets found in a data center, the resources consumed, their life cycles and the mapping between virtual, logical and physical layers within the IT structure.

In a market such as this, many potential DCIM customers start their research and investigation of available DCIM solutions in a very hands-on tactical mode. DCIM comes in all shapes and sizes, and in fact includes everything from sensors and power monitoring, to full-fledged life cycle management suites. Each potential customer looks at the pieces that appear to have the most relevance to their management goals today. They start their DCIM journey looking for solutions that fit into their existing ways of doing business, new tools to be applied to their old approaches.

Luckily for a few, they are beginning to see the much bigger opportunity and their tactical thinking quickly transitions to attaining much more strategic value, across wider audiences, which is ultimately realized with the deeper integrations into their existing thought-processes, and their rapidly evolving services management structures. The very role of the CIO has change from “All services at ANY cost,” to a more value oriented approach, “The Right level of services at their Value to the company.”

DCIM is Strategic when connected to ITSM

DCIM delivers core value when deployed in a manner as to not be yet another island of features. Many of the DCIM industry’s early adopters started their journey with DCIM tools that were nothing more than enhanced drawing solutions, where visual fidelity reined king. In fact many of the currently available DCIM solutions and even the latest open-sourced OpenDCIM projects are basically enhanced spreadsheets with drawing built-in, which works great for documenting devices, but still misses the BIG opportunity.

Now we are starting to see a fundamental shift in discipline and accountability. Everyone wants to look forward rather than backward, and relatively few folks are trying to protect their previous ways. The ITIL-like approaches (anything that enables discipline and accountability) are becoming much more interesting in this new climate. That’s where DCIM thrives. In this new climate, new DCIM solutions must complement and integrate with existing management apps.

IT Service Management or ITSM is the process-based practices intended to align the delivery of information technology services with the business needs of the enterprise.

DCIM (when done right) forms the critical physical extension to ITSM. What do I mean by ’Done Right’? It’s when DCIM is deeply integrated with ITSM and becomes part of the critical path for change management. How will you know you’ve been successful? The number of users will grow into the dozens or hundreds, remedial accuracy will increase, and time-frames for labor-intensive operations will shrink, your costs for assets with be right-sized and your capacity planning will begin to include the physical layer itself, including all of the energy-related costs DCIM is not about drawing pretty pictures, its about extending the service management discipline to include the physical layer which has been largely ignored for the past 40 years. DCIM directly supports the transformation, which is already occurring across your IT structure.

Mark Harris is the vice president of marketing and data center strategy at Nlyte Software with more than 30 years experience in product and channel marketing, sales, and corporate strategy. He also shares musings on the industry at DCIMExpert.  Nlyte Software is the independent provider of data center infrastructure Management (DCIM) solutions.

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