An organization’s set of responsibilities and operations for managing a data center is referred to as data center management.
Data centers are highly complex, with numerous moving pieces that must all operate together to serve the business and its customers. In addition, many different technical and non-technical disciplines are required for the data center to work optimally.
Data center operations managers can use DCIM software to identify quickly, locate, visualize, and manage all physical data center assets, provision new equipment, and confidently plan capacity for future growth.
DCIM tools can also aid in the control of energy costs, the improvement of data center design, and the increase of operational efficiency.
Implementing a Data Center Infrastructure Management solution provides significant operational and cost-saving benefits to data center operations managers and their companies today and in the future.
Third-party data center managed services are now available to assist enterprises with end-to-end administration of all the disciplines required for effective outcomes. Many new enterprises now rely on third-party data center management to focus on their core strengths and be more customer-centric with their operations.
This viewpoint has resulted in the global proliferation of cloud-based data center solutions. For example, it used to take months to create a corporation and set up a data center, but now it can be done in days or weeks.
Components of Data Center Management
1. Environmental Health & Safety
Every data center facility has electrical, chemical, and mechanical safety dangers that, if not adequately detected and mitigated, can cause injury, disease, or even death.
As a result, a complete workplace safety policy is an essential component of every data center O&M program. A safety program’s major duties include injury and sickness prevention, electrical safety, hazard analysis, and hazard communication.
2. Personnel Administration
Humans still perform the installation, maintenance, and operation of data center facility systems. Eliminating human error as the leading source of system disruptions necessitates the selection and development of skilled, team-oriented individuals who exemplify the aforementioned “mission essential attitude.”
Subject matter experts in the following disciplines are included in a well-rounded team: electrical, mechanical, controls, fire detection/suppression, quality management, training, and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), as well as other operational support systems such as data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and building management systems (BMS).
3. Emergency Planning and Response
The first step in disaster preparation is the development of emergency operating procedures (EOPs) for all high-risk failure situations, such as the loss of a chiller plant or the failure of the generator to start.
EOPs define a thorough plan of action for safely isolating problems and, where possible, restoring service or redundancy.
Escalation protocols must also be designed and practiced to guarantee that the chain of command is kept informed and that the necessary resources are deployed as the crisis develops.
4. Management of Maintenance
The facility maintenance program ensures that electricity and cooling systems continue to work as intended throughout the data center’s life cycle. A proactive preventative and predictive maintenance strategy and valid asset information improve equipment dependability and system availability.
Consequently, forecasting maintenance budgets become more accurate while the total cost of ownership and downtime is reduced.
5. Management of Documentation
A system should be in place to maintain critical infrastructure documents structured and up to date. A primary operational aim is to have accurate information that is easily accessible to anybody in the company who needs it.
This is best performed with the help of a document management software tool that can automate operations and make document processing, storage, retrieval, and archiving easier.
6. Infrastructure Administration
The primary goal of data center facilities is to supply IT servers, storage, and networking equipment with continuous power, cooling, network, and space resources in the proper numbers, at the right redundancy level, and at the right time.
An infrastructure management system is required to match the facility’s resources with changing IT requirements properly.
Furthermore, an infrastructure management system can prevent downtime, improve resiliency and response, reduce operating expenses, and provide a solid basis for capacity planning decisions.
This is particularly true in an environment with no gross over-provisioning of excess safety capacity and no high degree of redundancy.
7. Energy Administration
To document the facility’s energy usage, a complete benchmarking program must be created, which will be utilized to develop energy efficiency and cost-cutting initiatives. Therefore, the benchmarking process is dependent on timely and reliable data.
To gain the most advantage, the power system must be suitably instrumented to supply the necessary inputs, and the sensors must be correctly calibrated when installed and recalibrated regularly.
Once the data has been reliably gathered, an analysis must be performed to identify energy savings potential and prepare for their implementation. DCIM software is the recommended toolkit for managing and automating an energy management program.
Modern DCIM solutions will proactively capture power and energy data and provide it in a clear, easy-to-understand format. In many situations, energy usage and kWh costs may be calculated down to the rack level.
Power draw data can be calculated based on equipment nameplate ratings if metered data is unavailable.
Data Center Management Challenges
1. Capacity Planning
Maintaining peak performance necessitates running your data center at full capacity. However, running out of capacity is a fatal obstacle; thus, IT managers frequently put aside some fault tolerance to ensure the data center’s functioning.
Managers are also increasingly favoring data center infrastructure management (DCIM) technologies as an effective approach to managing capacity. DCIM systems may be used to detect computing, storage, and cooling capacity while also assisting in more effective data center management and achieving full capacity, hence keeping data centers at risk within limitations.
2. Data Security
Data security is a recurring topic in data center networking challenges. Data breaches can result in millions of dollars in lost intellectual property, private data breaches, and identity theft.
Every data center administrator’s first concern is risk management and protecting data stored and sent across the network.
3. Power Management
Poor planning and UPS battery failure are the most typical causes of unplanned downtime. As the number of servers is reduced by virtualization, so does the power usage for cabinets and racks.
Despite significant efficiency improvements, blade servers consume four to five times the energy of prior data storage methods. This necessitates that data center administrators plan intelligently and invest in the appropriate UPS that can handle the predicted load.
4. Reporting in Real Time
The traditional method of IT monitoring, which involves the use of reports, has some disadvantages. It can only reveal what has already occurred, and by the time it has been evaluated, recognized trends, and anticipated any instances of failure, it may be too late to make the necessary corrections.
Real-time reporting bridges this gap by delivering real-time data, alarms, and notifications to help you resolve issues promptly.
5. Cost-cutting measures must be balanced with efficiency
Data centers’ inherent paradoxes are high efficiency and cheap cost. Therefore, it is crucial in data center administration to maintain the efficiency, innovation, and flexibility of the data center, and it is also necessary to regulate expenditures carefully.
Green data center as a sustainable building aim necessitates firms closely controlling data center energy efficiency and increasing their feeling of social and environmental responsibility.
Virtualization technology is currently in development and has the potential to reduce the physical limitations of servers, storage, and network equipment on applications, solve the inefficiency problem caused by application configuration dedicated servers, and achieve load balance, thereby effectively reducing data center operating costs.
DCIM for Data Center Management
DCIM is a software system that provides the procedures and tools required to manage data center settings in an organized manner. A DCIM solution might serve as the hub of your data center administration.
DCIM’s ability to handle change processes at the physical layer in conjunction with the software applications that operate on top of them is a major value proposition.
DCIM also assists IT in optimizing the supply of computing resources in response to changing demand.
Benefits of using DCIM for Data Center Management
DCIM software may eliminate challenges associated with gathering information necessary to manage infrastructure for DC managers properly. In addition, investing in DCIM can provide you with the following significant benefits-
1. Capacity planning and demand management are two aspects of resource management
It is difficult to use current space and resources efficiently if it is unclear where space is empty and where the rack is full. DCIM will provide you with answers to queries such as
“How much room, assets, and power do I have?”
“Where is the best available location to install a new device?”
“When will my resources run out?”
“How should I handle my network and electricity connections?”
You can carry out the client’s request if you have this knowledge. DCIM systems may be used to control the capacity of racks, blades, and so on. You can forecast the danger of capacity constraints and take necessary measures.
2. Change management becomes more efficient and effective
The DCIM system provides a more organized and effective change management approach. DCIM automates change management process areas and tracks equipment modifications.
DCIM will handle issues such as how to manage change. For example, what effect will change have? When will the modification order be completed? Who will carry out the necessary changes? What is the current state of the transformation process?
The integrated ITIL change management process will undoubtedly increase the pace with which change requests are implemented.
3. Visibility of infrastructure assets in real-time
The DCIM asset/inventory management tool will give you real-time infrastructure visibility. It will allow you to track thousands of your DC’s vital assets. Also, if any diagnostic is required, you may check it out on your monitor for the specific position of the item using auto-asset detection.
Data Center Management Best Practices
The top data center IT infrastructure goals are stability, agility, and efficiency. When data center operations are stable, less effort is spent “putting out fires,” and more time is spent installing new platforms or improving current ones.
Best practices for data center management span from simple incident monitoring to more complicated chores like mapping network connections and deleting unproductive servers.
These professional suggestions address best practices for managing IT assets, loading server resources onto rack space, configuring infrastructure, providing IT assistance, and carrying out other everyday data center activities-
- Control rack-level capacity – electricity draw and use of servers vary widely, influencing how much power each rack requires.
- Concentrate on configuration management – implementing configuration management systems necessitates support from IT infrastructure and development teams, but the payback in stability and speed is well worth it.
- Follow best security procedures – The deployment of the best data center operations means nothing if unauthorized workers or unknown people may access business information via the data center. Protect these vital systems from potential attackers or thieves.
- Get servers correctly benchmarked – data center IT and operations employees should benchmark server performance for maximum efficiency. Vendors can provide core counts; however, the actual return on investment is dependent on your workload.
- Maintain excellent server racking standards – common issues exist in data center racks, whether due to dense equipment configurations or a lack of cable space. Data center racks that are well-organized and spaced enable better IT operations, so take the time to address and prevent frequent errors.
- Make use of free cooling – “Free cooling” is the removal of heat from your facility without needing a chiller. This is accomplished by the use of low-temperature ambient air, evaporation of water, or the use of a vast thermal reservoir. Chillers are the most energy-intensive component of the cooling infrastructure; reducing their consumption is often the most cost-effective option. There is no one “correct” approach to free cool, but water or air-side economizers are tried and true.
- Set the Thermostat – raising the cold aisle temperature saves energy in the facility. Set your cold aisle temperature to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; almost all equipment manufacturers enable this. Running raised cold aisle temperatures is crucial for buildings that use economizers (which we strongly suggest) since it allows for longer days of “free cooling” and more energy savings.
- Regulate Airflow – Air flow control is critical to properly running a data center. Begin by employing a well-designed enclosure to reduce hot and cold air mixing. Avoid hot areas by using blanking plates in any unpopulated spaces in your rack. We discovered that a bit of research might pay tremendous benefits. Thermal modeling utilizing computational fluid dynamics (CFD), for example, can assist you in swiftly characterizing and optimizing airflow for your facility without requiring numerous disruptive reorganizations of your computer area. Also, ensure that your cooling load is proportionate to the projected IT equipment and that if you add capacity, your cooling method is energy proportional.
How does DCIM software improve Data Center Management?
The Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) system is invaluable, helping operations managers and engineers manage and support a facility’s mission-critical infrastructure.
DCIM gives Operations and Engineering teams the tools and information they need to optimize facility resources (power, cooling, and space), ensure maximum uptime, and identify and repair maintenance issues to prevent unplanned downtime.
It also gives them the flexibility to do faster installations or to make quick changes to IT environments based on the customer’s ever-changing business requirements.
By enabling data center operators to run effective operations and enhance data center infrastructure planning and design, data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools significantly simplify data center management. In addition, the right DCIM solution offers improvements over homegrown databases like Visio and Excel.
Modius Inc. is a leading end-to-end solution provider for managing the availability, capacity, and efficiency in the critical facilities of data centers, smart buildings, telecommunications, and other IoT environments.
Modius DCIM Flagship offering OpenData is a true next-generation data center infrastructure management tool. It provides all the tools needed to manage the performance of mission-critical infrastructure, from the integration of disparate devices to analytics to integrated dashboards, all in a “single pane of glass.