Data centers have been around for decades, but how they are managed has been an evolutionary process. Older data centers were managed with spreadsheets and basic workflow diagrams. This information, while helpful, was static and needed to be constantly updated by hand to stay current. This was a very tedious process, with errors practically guaranteed due to the overwhelming number of tasks. If a device such as a server moved from one area to another without being manually updated, it was as good as lost.
For many companies, management of their data center is evolving. They are starting to see DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) software as a means to bridge the gap between monitoring legacy systems and handling their latest data management initiatives. DCIM holds the promise of being able to reach back to integrate older systems with new and to step forward to help companies with their data management strategy transformation.
Like it or not, your data center is a key player in your digital transformation. DCIM is therefore an integral part of any large company’s transformation because it allows them to use software to manage both old and new systems within the walls of the same data center. For large data center operations with legacy systems, even miniscule improvements in power consumption, device utilization, etc. brought about by DCIM can have sizable benefits on cost and efficiencies.
Here are four broad categories of data center management to consider as you evaluate what type of DCIM tool will be best for your needs. Each IT team must evaluate what areas of DCIM are most important to them. Some data centers will place more emphasis on monitoring legacy systems, for example.
Managing the Physical Space
How does your team currently manage floor space and racks? Are you still using spreadsheets to determine space utilization? Are you struggling to determine where to rack up new gear? DCIM solutions that provide space and rack management can help you optimize your physical space, utilization of each rack and the physical location of your assets. Additionally, some DCIM solutions can connect and collect data from physical sensors and communicate this information to both IT and infrastructure.
Managing Servers and Storage
One of the worst tasks is managing physical assets using a spreadsheet. Data centers have thousands of assets and finding one failing server can be like locating a needle in a haystack! What about all the other important details about that device such as its data of service, configuration, etc.? Make sure with your DCIM tool, you are able to know its exact location, device type, configuration details and so on.
Monitoring Temperature and Power
Power and cooling are critical elements of any data center. Keeping an eye on these two things is paramount to maintain network uptime and uninterrupted service. Look for a solution where you can visually track real-time power usage and temperature changes. A spike in power consumption may mean a device is in danger of failing or being over utilized. The DCIM tool should track temperatures at the device, rack and room levels for optimum efficiency.
Applications are the heartbeat of any enterprise. Monitoring applications for spikes in usage or outages is critical to providing the best customer experience. With a strong DCIM tool, applications (virtual or otherwise) can be tracked to the exact server or virtual instance for monitoring and load balancing.