Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is taking the enterprise industry by storm, a testament to the fact that (a) the physical layer still matters, and (b) quite a lot of efficiency can still be squeezed out of legacy infrastructure.
Indeed, it is in times of great change that improved visibility into existing environments is most valuable. By integrating data and facilities management, DCIM offers improvements in energy efficiency, availability and management capability as cloud architectures and Big Data requirements place added burdens on available resources.
Michael Potts at datacenterknowledge.com points out a number of key advantages that a properly functioning DCIM platform delivers. These include a better balance between active systems and data loads, which can reduce energy and other operational costs by 30 percent or more. As well, most DCIM systems provide automated change management, which can identify and often compensate for unintended consequences when portions of the infrastructure are altered. This could prove to be an increasingly valuable tool as the cloud fosters increasing numbers of unauthorized changes.
In fact, some DCIM platforms are starting to specialize in cloud operations, providing enhanced functionality for multi-tenant, multi-platform environments. nlyte Software, for example, recently introduced the DCIM Suite for Service Providers with new tools designed to accommodate rapid client on-boarding and responsiveness to unique users. The system has the ability to allocate power, cooling and other resources at a granular level, allowing service providers to more accurately detail usage patterns and system packaging. Not only does this help to more closely match resources with data needs, but it provides for more detailed chargeback and pricing capabilities.
Another key aspect of DCIM is its ability to unite previously disparate management processes under one roof. Emerson Network Power says it has taken this ability to a new level with the Trellis platform that is said to provide a 70 percent improvement in operational efficiency and a 25 percent gain in energy efficiency. The system provides real-time visibility into data and facility infrastructure, including component inventory and environmental conditions, and then provides automated change planning for the installation, repositioning and removal of IT equipment.
Meanwhile, Schneider Electric has come out with the EnergySTEP data center assessment tool as part of its overall Energy Management Services platform. The system provides detailed and customized reports on power, cooling and physical/operational efficiency parameters that can be compared to existing benchmarks like the Green Grid Data Center Maturity Model. The goal is to provide vendor-neutral recommendations for improving efficiency and availability, which can then be coupled with additional services designed to help manage the entire data center lifecycle, including planning, design and operation/optimization.
The growing interest in data center management is clear evidence that enterprises have not lost sight of their most valuable assets as data environments become more cloudy. Data infrastructure will continue to be a cost center even as resources transition to a more service-based model. But that doesn't mean the costs need to be excessive. Through effective management, enterprises should become increasingly savvy when matching resources to data loads while maintaining the reliability and availability that knowledge workers rely on.