Nearly everyone agrees that matching workloads to power distribution across data center hardware is one of the best ways to improve efficiency and drive down operating costs. Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) platforms do just that, but even after nearly a decade of development they are still a rare sight at data facilities around the world.
The key challenge to DCIM is integration. Most platforms are already adept at linking data management to facilities management and then placing an automation layer over both to offer dynamic load and power balancing for highly fluid data environments. But that still leaves the problem of integrating with legacy data management stacks, many of which focus on specific areas like storage or virtual machines and are already facing integration issues of their own.
Despite the challenges, however, progress is underway, albeit slowly. Nlyte Software recently announced broad integration with HPE’s OneView platform, coming about as close as you can get to a single-pane data/facilities management system. This gives data center managers an IT-facing solution for key Nlyte capabilities like asset management, infrastructure monitoring, change synchronization and power-flow management. At the same time, multi-tenant operators will be able to closely track the consumption rates of individual users to streamline billing and charge-back processes, and it will also help boost rack density without running the risk of blowing the power envelope.
Piecemeal integration with leading data management platforms is helpful, but what would really improve things is an open integration suite that would allow operators to mix and match their own solutions. Emerson Network Power took a step in this direction recently with the adoption of RESTful APIs into its Trellis DCIM suite. In this way, users can match Trellis with not only IT and data management systems but those overseeing accounting, purchasing and even mobile operations, as long as they too support RESTful APIs. As Data Center Knowledge’s Yevgeniy Sverdlik notes, software stacks built on common APIs allow for the creation of highly customized workflows, which is crucial given the unique infrastructure and architectural layouts of virtually every data center on the planet.
New entrants to the DCIM space have a vested interest in broad integration with legacy infrastructure as well. Altima Technologies recently launched its NetZoomDC solution that provides real-time capacity management using a high-speed data collection method across rack, server and PDU (power distribution unit) infrastructure. The system provides out-of-box integration with leading virtual platforms like vSphere and Hyper-V, as well as management and monitoring stacks like RFCode and ServiceNow. As well, it features an SDK for home-grown integration with other solutions as needed.
And a company called Device42 is integrating its DCIM suite with Enlogic’s line of intelligent PDUs, giving the enterprise a handle on actual data center power consumption rather than theoretical models. The setup gives Device42 outlet-level discovery of PDU performance, as well as historical and real-time power usage data for more effective monitoring and alerts. In addition, managers can control the PDU outlets from Device42’s interface to provide centralized management across distributed deployments.
The holy grail of enterprise management, of course, is a single pane of glass that allows operators to monitor and control every aspect of the data environment, both at home and in the cloud. The diversity of solutions and standards in use today makes this dream all but impossible, of course, but any step toward a more cohesive and coordinated ecosystem is welcome, particularly now that even small improvements in the efficiency of scale-out infrastructure can produce big returns.
Implementing a DCIM solution is still a complicated endeavor, but with more broadly integrated solutions now available, the return on that investment should not only be better, it should come in sooner as well.
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.