The March Toward Data Center Infrastructure Management

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Ten Key Actions to Reduce IT Infrastructure and Operations Costs

Reduce costs by as much as 25 percent with these tips from Gartner.

Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is the hottest buzzword in IT architectural circles these days. But despite all the enthusiasm, there is still little consensus as to exactly what it entails, or how it differs from earlier generations of data and facilities management.

Ideally, DCIM should provide a bridge between data environments, IT hardware infrastructure and support systems like heating and cooling. In this way, managers can oversee and direct data loads with an eye toward peak performance and efficient resource and energy use. How, exactly, this is to be accomplished is still very much a work in progress, however, and typically involves some tricky integration between advanced management architectures and legacy systems. Nonetheless, the movement is gaining strength, with Gartner predicting the segment will jump from its current 1 percent market penetration level to more than 60 percent by 2014.

Part of this movement stems from the fact that most organizations have given short shrift to facilities management over the years, preferring instead to invest in control of the logical layer, according to Dan Fry, vice president of converged solutions at management firm iTRACS. This has led to an out-of-control situation in which physical resources are often underutilized and poorly coordinated, resulting in high energy costs, poor data performance and increased risk of failure.

The solution, then, is to ensure that the various layers of enterprise data infrastructure can be managed as a cohesive unit, which for iTRACS means integrating its physical infrastructure management platform with as many data management systems as possible. The company recently partnered up with CA to devise a common management interface for the ecoSoftware automation stack and iTRACS' Converged Physical Infrastructure Management (CPIM) platform.

Of course, part of the problem with any new class of enterprise software is that it finds itself open to a wide range of interpretation, making it hard to distinguish between truly innovative approaches and mere repackaged products and capabilities. Schneider Electric, for example, seeks to differentiate itself from run-of-the-mill CFD and monitoring software with the StruxureWare platform, which integrates power monitoring and automated cooling modules with an array of plug-ins and scripting options for broad management customization. It also provides interfaces for iPhones, iPads and Android-based mobile devices.

Competitive pressures are likely to make DCIM a fixture at most enterprises over the next few years. The industry as a whole has seen a dramatic reduction in energy consumption over the past decade due to virtualization and other technologies. However, these are widely seen as having run their course. By integrating today's virtualization and data management platforms with those that govern the physical layer and underlying support infrastructure, the goal is to discover new wells of efficiency that will drive operating costs down even further.

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