Infrastructure Management 

Winning new friends and efficiencies through integration

DCIM offers a wealth of integration opportunities at a data, application and process level. Here's why it needs to be an evolution not a revolution.

When I moved to my new house in Massachusetts, I was keen to meet my neighbors and become part of my community as soon as possible. I joined the gym. I signed up to the chess club. I took my kids to Little League.

As a result, I didn’t just gain a new home, I gained a whole bunch of new friends – and met some formidable chess players.

Integrating management with data

While this is a personal story of integration, the same lessons apply to your data center operations. If you deploy a new management system in your data center, you get, well, a new system.

But if you go on to integrate it, you can tap into a host of new processes and new metrics – and a host of new efficiencies too.

Beyond integration

DCIM systems are central to so many processes in the data center and beyond that integration is essential. Yet it can also be incredibly daunting. I recently worked with one US delivery firm that identified more than 20 integration points.

This level of integration should not be tackled in a single pass. Instead, organizations should start with the systems that will add the most value to their DCIM implementation and their business.

Applying it in the real world

For example, when one of our customers deployed CA DCIM in a hyperscale environment, the initial goal was to achieve a single view of energy-related data across its global data centers.

So they started by integrating several in-house tools, including those used for deploying compute hardware and recording electricity consumption. These integrations will no doubt increase as the customer’s DCIM implementation matures.

The four pillars of DCIM integration

A requirements workshop at the beginning of the DCIM journey will help identify which integrations matter most. It will also identify where an integrated DCIM system can be used to replace ageing, expensive or disparate tools.

With some organizations using as many as 40 systems to manage the data center ecosystem, the potential for rationalization and retirement is considerable.

DCIM Integration opportunities can be split into four key areas:

Data: This is paramount, and is usually the first area to tackle. For DCIM to deliver better visibility of data center operations and resources, organizations need to be able to integrate data from different platforms and in different formats.

Service management applications: From building management systems and change management databases to service desk ticketing platforms, integrating DCIM with service management systems can simplify and unify common operational processes. For example, if a PDU rack fails an integrated DCIM system can not only raise a service desk ticket but also correlate other alerts to the same issue.

Strategic planning: DCIM can be an enabler of business growth. I recently spoke to a large retailer that needed to better manage its power, space and cooling capacity to deliver on its corporate strategy to grow by nearly 30%.

To be effective, DCIM needs to be integrated with enterprise capacity planning and management processes, which will help provide greater visibility of costs and performance.

Process automation: With this kind of integration in place, organizations can tap into the next tier of operational efficiencies. For example, workloads can be automatically moved between data centers to take advantage of idle capacity and cheaper energy rates as well as in response to disaster situations.

Not many data center managers are prioritizing automation yet, but as adoption of public and private clouds increases, I see this becoming an important opportunity for DCIM.

A roadmap for integration evolution

To realize the full potential of DCIM integration, organizations need to ensure they deploy a DCIM system that has been designed to do just that: integrate. It needs to be vendor agnostic, hardware agnostic or protocol agnostic.

And it needs to be backed by people who know software and live and breathe the culture of enabling business through IT.

With the right DCIM solution in place, organizations can establish an integration roadmap for the short and long term.

After all, DCIM integration is not a revolution; it’s an evolution. And the results will keep getting better over time – hopefully the same can be said for my prowess on the chessboard.

Image credit: Randen Pederson

Dhesikan is VP of ecosoftware with a focus on energy and sustainability management and responsibility…


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