As part of the annual Data Centre World (DCW) two-day conference & exhibition in London last week, industry expert Mark Acton hosted a panel entitled “DCIM: Embrace or Bury?”
This discussion was intended to get the opinions of the panel and the delegates in the room as to where we are with Data Centre Infrastructure Management (otherwise known as DCIM) and whether we need to start to look for another solution.
The panel consisted of industry experts Alan Beresford (EcoCooling), Venessa Moffat (RiT Tech), Paul Milburn (Ekkosense) and Emma Fryer (TechUK).
When asked for a one-line description of what a DCIM is, there were four different answers, which probably goes to show, that the concept is not quite at a maturity level that it needs to be, even after a decade of installations.
It was also largely agreed that, to date, general DCIM systems have failed to deliver on the promises made.
The key components of DCIM represented a good discussion with the group. There seems to be no argument that a DCIM system should include Facilities, Connectivity and IT stack, where previously some (if not most) products in the market have not achieved this. Capacity planning came up as a big function of any DCIM system, as did asset management, thermal control and operational efficiency in general.
At this point, our now honorary panellist, David Dawson from Kharon-IT observed that the panel so far had used the word integration a mere 36 times already. The discussion moved towards whether DCIM should be all things to all men, which in the main, the room thought it shouldn’t be. Rather, DCIM should be the glue that connects all the other business systems and provides a single pain of glass showing what’s important to the various types of users. Paul from Ekkosense observed that there are analytics for the techies, but at the moment not useful dashboards for the business executive who doesn’t want to delve into the detail of the DCIM application.
There was general consensus in the room that the IT stack should be integrated in some way and that DCIM systems should also connect to other business systems, such as CMDB, ERP, Finance systems. It was also recognised that Facilities, IT and ‘the business’ work on different timescales, but also that currently don’t work well together. A DCIM implementation should be a catalyst in getting all the stakeholders to work together around core business processes that involve people, IT and assets.
Technology in general is entwined in day to day business and should not be seen as a cost, but rather as an opportunity to create competitive advantage. Business goals and processes can be facilitated using technology and efficient data centres and conversely business risks and technology risks can be minimised by using solutions such as DCIM.
The final thoughts…..what will DCIM look like in 5 years’ time?
- Paul – “More Analytics, offering solutions rather than just raw data.”
- Venessa – “Invisible like Visa, and connected to everything.”
- Alan – “More useful information and intelligent monitoring rather than just a data repository.”
- Emma – “More Ability to collect and collate useful information.”
- Dave – “More process and business integration through a ‘Single pane of Glass’”.
About Mark Acton:
A senior Data Centre Consultant comfortable with extensive international experience and detailed knowledge of the data centre sector and the challenges it currently faces, Mark combines a service delivery driven approach with solid engineering and technical skills and direct operational experience of managing multiple large data centre sites.
A regular public speaker at international events and a recognised industry advisor on data centre technical issues as well as being involved in European and international data centre Standards development through CEN/CENELEC, ETSI, BSI and ISO. Mark also acts as a representative on multiple technical committees within the data centre ecosystem and is the current Chair of the Best Practice Committee for the European Code of Conduct for Data Centre Energy Efficiency, sponsored by the European Commission.
Mark is also a part time Business Strategist and Technology Director at Israeli technology firm *RiT Tech.
*About RiT Tech:
Headquartered in Israel, RiT Tech (RiT) is a leading provider of converged IT infrastructure management and connectivity solutions for over 30 years. RiT offers an open-framework platform that provides a unified way to manage converged systems and services, to improve resource utilization, streamline infrastructure operations, reduce operational cost, optimize future investments and to enhance data security. RiT also offers high-performance, end-to-end structured cabling solutions.
RiT’s pioneering R&D Centre in Israel is the birth-place of AIM – Automated Infrastructure Management, which is now integrated into ISO/IEC 18598. RiT’s data-centric approach facilitates intelligent, big data solutions to complex business problems, deployed around the world in data centres, large corporations, government agencies, financial institutions, telecommunications, airport authorities, healthcare organizations and educational facilities.