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Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) 101

Operating a data center poses a set of unique challenges. One of the most crucial challenges of these “data warehouses” is the massive energy demand to power servers and other equipment, and the energy needed to cool the environment. Improper data center cooling can result in catastrophic failures and losses of sometimes millions of dollars per minute. As data centers are expected to operate 24/7 with zero downtime, IT and Facilities managers need tools to help meet these seemingly-impossible expectations in a manner that is cost effective.

In comes data center infrastructure management software, or DCIM.

What is DCIM?

Simply put, DCIM is software designed to collect and converge essential data gathered from IT and the facility, consolidating them into one system.  It provides a unified, holistic view of overall operation and helps optimize energy usage, dictates proper equipment deployment, and ensures that the infrastructure is operating without issues. 

DCIM should not be confused with the IT Asset Management system (ITAM), which supports lifecycle management of IT hardware. While ITAM is very important, it is complementary to and different than DCIM.

Why is DCIM important?

The need for data center space grows exponentially.  Cisco’s Global Cloud Index predicts that data center traffic will grow fourfold, totaling 6.6 zettabytes annually by 2016. The EPA reports that data centers consume 20 times more energy per square foot than a typical office building. With these statistics in mind, it’s little surprise that making the most of the space, power, and cooling potential in a data center has become such a large concern.

What to look for in a DCIM solution

Those considering investing in a DCIM solution should look for advanced features that make monitoring the environment easier and more flexible.  Most importantly, these features should provide real-time monitoring and visibility of all data center systems and devices, from the power feeds to the servers, not forgetting cooling systems.   

The ideal DCIM should offer:

  • Real-Time Monitoring: Enabling accurate, real-time viewing of information to avoid or resolve problems.
  • Unified Information: The best DCIM systems create a holistic view of all relevant information of the IT infrastructure and Facilities components, handling very complex, geographically-dispersed environments.
  • Web-Based Interface: A browser-based DCIM tool can deliver alarms to multiple devices: e-mail, Web browsers, wireless devices, and pagers.
  • Easy Integration and Use: Advanced DCIM tools are easy to use and configure in-house, with minimal professional service and should not cost you when you change equipment vendors.
  • Internationalization: Essential for monitoring multiple facilities in different countries.
  • Universal Access: An unlimited number of decision-makers should be able to view information.
  • Holistic Visibility: Providing far more visibility, scalability and control over the entire global information environment. 

If you’re challenged with managing your data center with just your building management system, consider deploying a DCIM solution for drastic energy savings and a real-time global view of all your data centers. Choose a DCIM solution that will be easily interoperable with your current systems to keep your costs down and your reliability up.

Sev Onyshkevych is chief marketing officer for FieldView Solutions.

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