Data Center Infrastructure Management Primer
DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) is the discipline of controlling and optimizing your data center infrastructure’s operations and performance.
DCIM is a vast field that arose in response to the increasing complexity of IT infrastructure systems and the need to integrate seamlessly with power distribution, environmental management, and other operating technology sides of the Data Center. High emphasis is placed on the need to ensure the resiliency of the data center operations by monitoring the highly complex redundancy at the core of the DC infrastructure.
What is DCIM?
Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is primarily driven by the need to monitor and maintain power and environmental systems. As the capabilities and needs of such systems have grown, DCIM has advanced to include the ability to ingest data from the IT (Information Technology) aspects of the data center. The DCIM industry began in the early 2000s as companies dedicated building space to house servers and other physical computing assets.
Since then, the phrase has grown to describe the centralized monitoring and administration of a data center’s critical systems to optimize resource capacity and efficiency. Monitoring and control of data center elements such as power distribution elements, servers, storage devices, and network equipment can be accomplished using DCIM tools and best practices.
This evolution of the DCIM concept has led to a rapidly growing need to incorporate a broadening set of data sources and views. Exceptional approaches take a holistic approach to incorporating this data – providing deep integration and insight, while some solutions piece-meal approach has led to stand-alone modules that limit the understanding of the interaction between critical aspects of DC management.
However, the notion of infrastructure is changing. Previously, it referred to on-premises hardware. In addition, the boundaries of traditional IT infrastructure components are changing as the reliance on the cloud continues to grow.
There are numerous advantages to using a Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution.
During the Design phase, DCIM gives critical information for creating the appropriate infrastructure, such as power, cooling, and network data at the rack level, to determine the best location for new servers.
Without this information, data center managers must rely on guesswork to determine how much equipment can fit into a rack. Insufficient equipment wastes critical data center resources (space, power, and cooling). Excessive equipment increases the likelihood of a shutdown due to a lack of available resources.
DCIM offers operational data in the Monitoring phase, such as environmental data (temperature, humidity, airflow), power data (at the device, rack, zone, and data center levels), and cooling data.
Furthermore, DCIM may give IT data such as server resources (CPU, memory, disk, network). When criteria are surpassed, this data can be used to alert management, reducing mean time to repair, and enhancing availability.
DCIM evaluates the major performance indicators from the monitoring phase as a critical input into the planning phase during the Predictive Analysis phase. This phase is used to make capacity planning decisions.
Tracking the utilization of critical resources over time provides helpful information for deciding when to buy new power or cooling equipment.
DCIM can be used in the Planning phase to investigate “what if” situations such as server refreshes, the impact of virtualization, and equipment movements, additions, and changes.
If you were to sum up DCIM in a single word, it would be information. However, we will take it a step further and give real-time information. Every aspect of data center management depends on complete and accurate real-time information.
DCIM offers the following advantages:
- Exposure to precise, actionable data on the data center’s current state and future requirements
- Standard processes for changing out equipment
- Asset management has a single source of truth
- Greater certainty in terms of space, electricity, and cooling capacity means more time to plan
- A better understanding of the current health of the data center’s power and cooling infrastructure and environment improves overall data center availability
- Lower operational costs because of energy usage effectiveness and efficiency
DCIM monitoring is critical whether your company has its own data center or manages a large data center that provides colocation services. Your Operations team can manage your data center infrastructure management system more effectively with careful and continuous monitoring.
As a result, you can identify and address any issues before they become major issues that disrupt the data center’s operation and uptime.
Data Center Optimization
As the heart of a company’s IT infrastructure, a data center receives and stores various types of data. For service businesses, this entails a large amount of customer information, such as demographics, contact/account data, and purchase histories.
A data center can hold a large amount of information related to supply chains, manufacturing processes, inventory, and the storage of products for sale for product businesses.
Programs to reduce the addition of servers and hardware components through more innovative data management strategies and programs to reduce management staffing through more efficient project management are examples of data center optimization efforts.
In general, the best-run data centers employ experts to examine the size and scope of a project and the existing functionality of a facility to identify areas for improvement that can help the business save money.
Benefits of DCIM
There are numerous advantages to installing a DCIM solution, all of which help to decrease expenses and streamline processes. Although some providers construct and implement their proprietary systems, the best software is frequently produced by third-party organizations since it offers greater versatility and vendor-agnostic functionality.
DCIM allows for higher savings
The valuable information provided by DCIM allows managers to keep one step ahead by highlighting concerns before they even become aware of their existence. In addition, a DCIM identifies problems and provides insight into what is required to correct them.
This could be a simple update or repair, but if it goes undiscovered, it could cost your data center a lot more. In addition, underutilization and underutilized space can be significant contributors to data center expenditures, but with a DCIM providing information on every facet of a data center’s operations, you can identify areas of the facility that are no longer needed.
The data center environment’s complexity makes it tough to divide resources between monitoring current operations and planning for future improvements. The insights provided by a DCIM enable managers to focus on potential areas while also modifying problems.
With DCIM’s planning capability providing insight into the facility’s available capacity, you can make better decisions about future server placement based on physical infrastructure requirements.
DCIM can also log all relevant asset information (model, make, and capacity, for example) and record and monitor the interactions between these assets to avoid problems.
The key to a data center’s profitability and reputation is maintaining consistent availability and a high level of uptime. In addition, companies are fully aware of the consequences of device failure.
DCIM’s efficient monitoring features should deliver precise, real-time information on a data center’s networks, servers, and equipment, alerting it to any concerns before they cause a system outage. This allows for shorter downtimes as technicians have insights from the DCIM into where the problem originated.
Environmental Advantages (ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance))
Environmental concerns play an increasingly prominent role in the data center business. DCIM systems improve the monitoring of cooling efforts, wasted resources, and the management of energy and power distribution.
Sensors can be used with DCIM software to monitor temperature, humidity, and airflow to anticipate savings.
When analyzing the benefits of DCIM, we must recognize the importance of combining information from different divisions inside the firm. It is usual for valuable information to be retained independently by various departments and multiple locations throughout the firm.
Data Center Infrastructure Management bridges this gap by presenting all information on a single screen for all to see. As a result, data silos are broken down, allowing valuable information to flow between divisions, benefiting IT and facilities management.
Integrating current systems with automated ones improves billing accuracy as well.
Components of DCIM
A comprehensive DCIM solution consists of the following:
Inventory data from racks, servers, storage, and network equipment, including network connectivity, power distribution, and applications. Complete critical infrastructure data and relationships between IT and Facilities equipment, with mapping down to the physical port level between each item.
Physical Connectivity and the Power Chain
Keep track of all physical connections across the power chain and cable/data network. Then, built-in rules automatically validate connectivity before equipment provisioning.
Simplify troubleshooting and maintenance by creating physical maps of floor PDUs (Power Distribution Units), branch circuit panels, UPSsUPSs (Uninterruptable Power Supply) (Uninterruptable Power Supply) (Uninterruptible Power Supply), and CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioning) devices.
Data Collection in Real Time
Two types of information must be gathered. The first is information about the data center’s assets and power consumption. The second type of data is information on environmental elements within the infrastructure itself.
This information is often acquired using sensors and other monitoring equipment and then supplied to the DCIM software in real time.
Support different user roles while ensuring a highly productive workforce and an accurate DCIM database.
The amount of information that can be gathered in data centers is enormous. However, raw data isn’t instrumental on its own.
Dashboards are another feature of DCIM solutions. They allow data center admins to visualize data in real-time using more understandable formats.
The data center should be built to be scalable in response to changing business requirements. That means your capacity planning must consider:
- Space constraints
- Equipment and rack weight
- Power supply performance
- Cooling performance
- A variety of other physical constraints of the data center
The DCIM program may simulate various future/potential scenarios, allowing you to plan future capacity depending on these constraints.
DCIM technologies rely heavily on real-time data collecting and analysis. You can use a DCIM tool to:
- Monitor a range of asset metrics
- Use web-based APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to transfer data between DCIM solutions
- Use powerful AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to analyze data
Looking at the indicators’ real-time performance can help you mitigate events like power outages, security breaches, and network failures ahead of schedule.
What Problems can DCIM solve?
For today’s data center administrators and operators, data center managementfaces various issues.
Over time data centers evolved from simple data rooms into complicated and closely monitored and controlled environments. This enables DC administrators to achieve greater capacities using fewer resources.
Let us take a deeper look at eight of the most typical challenges data center administrators and operators face and how DCIM software can help.
Meeting Corporate Sustainability and Environmental Initiatives
Data centers are sometimes a flashpoint for energy and water resource concerns. There is constant pressure to cut energy and water usage. These can be hard to execute without DCIM software.
The right DCIM can generate reports that identify, track, and compare energy expenditures across data centers, sites, customers, or applications and can help motivate and enforce energy-saving initiatives.
Delays in the deployment of new services
Missing or incorrect information in work orders or manual tasks causes delayed job completion and quality work. Controls for verification and validation should be part of your DCIM solution, such as detecting asset dependencies and assuring job quality that helps eliminate unforeseen downtime, workflow delays, and bottlenecks.
Inadequate cooling efficiency
With proper monitoring and management, it is easier to be efficient in data center management and operations. Charts and reports give the information required to assess cooling infrastructure utilization and gains obtained by improving airflow management, such as environmental improvements, lower operating costs, and improved server utilization.
Excessive power consumption
Overcapacity can occur quickly and create disruptions, so you need to know how much power you are using and how much capacity you have left.
Data center administrators can use DCIM software threshold alerting and reporting to understand power utilization at any given time. This allows them to rebalance power usage and prevent over-usage/premium costs.
Lack of capacity to make split-second decisions
Data center managers must have up-to-date, real-time information regarding the health of their data center to make timely decisions. A single, complete enterprise dashboard and reports that can give power, temperature, and uptime threats enable swift decision-making and ensure data center operations.
Inadequate knowledge of the status of work orders
Multiple systems, interfaces, and static reporting make real-time information on ticket progress and work completion challenging to obtain. DCIM software can improve workflow management by providing a list of all work that is planned, processed, and completed.
As modern data centers are required to process more detailed and frequent information, data center managers will continue to encounter the difficulties listed above and many others connected to information synthesis.
A DCIM solution can deliver the reporting, analysis, and situational awareness required to make quick and successful decisions.
What is Next Generation DCIM All About?
Next-Generation Data Center Infrastructure Management is a category of contemporary software that has replaced older DCIM products and has been designed to significantly streamline data center management.
The shortcomings of historical systems are addressed by second-generation DCIM software, which offers capabilities and features to assist data center managers in making better operational choices.
Users of Next-generation DCIM claim higher levels of satisfaction and quicker returns on investment, in contrast to first-generation peers who did not produce satisfactory outcomes.
The complexity of modern data center environments should have been considered when designing many legacy DCIM technologies. The expanded versions of monitoring and operations features in next-generation DCIM software surpass those of its ancestors. They are created expressly to address the issues that real-world customers face.
What Makes Next Generation DCIM Better?
- Super-Fast Deployment Time
- Zero-Configuration Analytics
- Complete Suite of Features and Capabilities
- Automation Through Integration
- Data-Driven Collaboration
- Compatibility with What You Have
- AI and Machine Learning Innovation
- Extreme Scalability
- Ease of Use
How to choose the right DCIM software?
Modern data center managers recognize the importance of Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software in simplifying the management of the market’s increasingly complex and distributed data center products. However, buyers of first-generation DCIM will recall that many vendors will overpromise and underdeliver.
Suppose you are looking for a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution to help manage your data center operations. In that case, there is a broad range of systems on the market, from simplistic to robust.
Here is a list of things to consider and look for when determining your requirements for a solution to manage your data center infrastructure.
Educate yourself about DCIM software.
Before contacting any vendors, conduct your research and establish your preliminary findings. Investigate how others have found success with DCIM software and the benefits they have received.
Share your findings with project stakeholders so they may also grasp the value of DCIM software.
Determine your data center’s pain points
The first step in selecting the proper DCIM software for you is to assess your needs. Then, separate the “must-haves” from the “nice-to-haves” to narrow your subsequent investigation to solutions that best meet your needs rather than being swayed by vendor claims.
Maintain your attention on the critical issues at hand.
Trying to solve every data center management issue you encounter is tempting, but doing so will always result in a failing project. So instead, concentrate on the most pressing issues that require attention. The key is to find a solution that can grow with you and your complexity.
Also, remember that the solution could be DCIM software or a variety of other data center management or IT technologies.
Compare vendors to find the best-suited solution
Once you have established a budget, it is time to contact vendors. Remember that not all DCIM tools are made equal, and you must exercise caution at this stage or risk a botched deployment.
To find the best DCIM provider, study and compare vendor assessments and look for providers with many public references, good ratings from multiple reviews, and industry awards.
Most companies will provide demos, test drives, or trials to allow you to evaluate their capabilities before making a purchase. Of course, a thorough proof-of-concept study may necessitate more upfront time and money. Still, it is one avenue to ensure you select the proper DCIM software.
Choose and implement your DCIM solution.
If you have done your homework, you should be secure in knowing which product is the best fit for you. Otherwise, you risk purchasing unnecessary frills or incurring unexpected costs. Remember that your DCIM journey is only getting started.
Optimizing your data center operations takes time and a cycle of iterations. Critical challenges should be addressed first to avoid disruptions while giving a significant ROI (Return on investment) over an extended period.
Modius OpenData – Next Generation DCIM Software
Modius OpenData DCIM software gives data center operations managers a comprehensive view of all data center assets and their connectivity and relationships to supporting infrastructures such as networks, copper and fiber cable plants, power chains, and cooling systems.
Modius OpenData technologies enable data center operations managers to identify, locate, visualize, and manage all physical data center assets, provision new equipment quickly, and plan capacity for future growth and/or consolidation with confidence.
These tools also aid in the reduction of energy expenses and the enhancement of operational efficiency.
Modius OpenData software reduces the risk of Data Center downtime by constantly monitoring critical facilities infrastructure.
- Image mapping with a custom image for each cabinet to create clickable zones
- Map overlay layers for power, space, temperature, and weight capacity
- Power connection mapping from the device to a power strip to panel to source feed
- Network connection mapping to any device designated as a switch
- Visual Cabinet Viewer
- A fundamental workflow framework for producing rack requests
- Device fault tolerance reporting and impact simulation of a panel or source feed outage
- Automatic transfer switch support
- Data collection and normalization in real-time at the network’s edge (IoT (Internet of Things))
- Configuration options for additional functionality (DCIM, Energy Management, Power Management, Event Management, Advanced Analytics)
- Database that is centralized, uniform, and very scalable
- A large library of data-collecting templates for devices, applications, and infrastructure
- Real-Time Operational Intelligence
- Data Normalization
Getting Started with DCIM
Controlling the expense and complexity of moving current processes to a DCIM is one of the problems Data Center Managers confront when installing a DCIM solution.
While a system that covers all or even part of the aspects of a DCIM – Asset, Capacity, Change, Power, Environment, and Energy – may be the aim, it is not required to implement it all from the start to have a positive ROI.
Remember that the DCIM you select should allow for additional enhancements without having to undo or redo previous fixes. While adopting a single solution set is an excellent place to start, you may eventually wish to expand your capabilities.
Make sure that the vendor you choose has flexibility in their DCIM architecture before you engage in a long-term commitment that is dependent on their solution.
Unlock the full potential of your data center with the Modius® OpenData® DCIM solution. OpenData integrates seamlessly with your existing infrastructure and provides real-time visibility into your physical and virtual assets, energy consumption, and critical alerts.
With robust reporting and predictive analytics capabilities, our software helps you optimize utilization, minimize downtime, and reduce costs. Experience increased agility and efficiency in your data center operations with our user-friendly and highly scalable solution. Trust us to help you make informed decisions and drive your business forward.
We are passionate about this space and have been delivering winning DCIM solutions since 2007. With 12 purpose-built modules that have what you need to keep your data centers and critical facilities running better, powered by the real-time operational insight that scales beautifully