DCIM: Critical to Digital Transformation

Arthur Cole

The enterprise finds itself in somewhat of a precarious position in the transition to a fully digital entity. On the one hand, it has a massive investment in legacy infrastructure that still has value despite its static design, while on the other, it needs to embrace new data environments in the cloud and on converged hardware platforms in order to remain competitive.

So where does the budget go? At what point can the enterprise finally dispense with the old in order to fully implement the new?

One way to straddle this line is to make the old as new as possible. Technologies like Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) are intended to make this possible, although the ability to implement such an all-encompassing management regime on legacy data silos is mixed at best. According to Technavio, the DCIM market is growing at a respectable pace of 4.74 percent, driven primarily by the need to coordinate data loads with underlying infrastructure as data center networking gravitates toward 40 GbE, 50 GbE and beyond. But as legacy systems become more virtualized and software-defined, it will likely become easier to implement a DCIM solution, at least partially.

The real growth market for DCIM, however, is expected to be in greenfield deployments, particularly in hyperscale cloud and colocation facilities that can generate enormous cost savings through even slight improvements in efficiency. As Persistence Market Research (PMR) notes, the data installation and construction market is expected to more than double to $95 billion by 2024. In this scenario, highly modular, hyperconverged infrastructure will have all the flexibility required to layer an overarching management stack that can match data requirements with power distribution practically in real time. This will allow service providers to implement highly granular resource allocation functions and link them to rate structures to ensure that clients are paying for exactly what they consume, and not a penny more.


Although the popular rationale behind DCIM is to bridge the gap between organizational silos and emerging agile methodologies, FNT Software’s Oliver Lindner says it can accomplish far more than that. DCIM is actually a foundational element in digital transformation because it provides the operational flexibility to quickly adapt infrastructure to changing data needs. In this way, the enterprise can finally manage infrastructure on a holistic basis so user requirements drive technology deployments, not the other way around. This is a far cry from current practices that require massive planning and coordination to revamp data systems for new applications, with results that are often obsolete before they are even brought online.

And you can expect emerging DCIM platforms to become even more effective as they incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence, says Etix Everywhere CEO Charles-Antoine Beyney. Google’s recent acquisition of AI developer DeepMind is already bearing fruit in the form of reduced power usage, enhanced visibility and fine-tuned analysis and capacity planning. As well, these tools can improve data security and uptime, providing a reliable means of pooling workloads from multiple clients, rather than the more wasteful current practice of hosting them on local infrastructure.

It seems that DCIM will become a common facet of the digital enterprise, but as an integrated component of modular data infrastructure, not an add-on to legacy data systems. And if all goes as planned, the data center will naturally find its own ways to become more efficient, with little or no human involvement in its day-to-day operations.

Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.


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