DCIM in 3D: Could You Benefit?

04/01/2015 | By Janelle Penny

Best practices for incorporating new features

Data center

Data center assets are easily tracked with software suites. Both 2D and 3D models can drive value as long as the user chooses the right fit for their needs.

Data Center Inrastructure Management (DCIM), the software suite that allows users to visualize and manage data center assets, offers a streamlined way for FMs to keep data centers in good working order. But the myriad options on the market – 2D vs. 3D, interactive options, and more – can make it difficult to pick the right solution for your facility.

Evaluate your needs alongside available functions and features to find your best fit.

Determine Management Needs
Both 2D and 3D visualization can be useful for data center managers, notes William Bloomstein, director of strategic and solutions marketing at CommScope, which offers the iTRACS DCIM software suite. Determining which type of tool would work best for you first requires determining what your specific needs are.

“One type of user is the so-called DCIM ‘power user’ who is doing planning, commissioning, and other deep-dive activities associated with managing the operations of their data center around the physical infrastructure,” explains Bloomstein. “An interactive 3D model helps them drive tremendous value because they can navigate right down to an individual port in the back of a server, then trace it to see where the power circuit goes. Instead of trying to decipher lines of text, for them, a picture is worth 1,000 words.”

Other users, Bloomstein explains, rely less on visuals and more on the information and management reports that can be culled from DCIM for other uses.

“Some managers just want to be able to use 2D environment to pull standard reports, use dashboards, and do analytics and reporting,” adds Bloomstein. “They may want to see how much power was consumed last week in Data Center A vs. Data Center B. The 3D visualization option is a powerful, compelling tool, but it’s by no means the only source of value.”

Best Practices in Any Dimension
Whether you choose 2D or 3D to manage your data center, vigilant monitoring and smart strategies are the key to DCIM success.

“The best way to incorporate DCIM is to use it on a daily basis,” recommends Andrew Bright, director of sales for DCIM vendor Optimum Path. “Many times, users go through the lengthy process of putting everything in the system but then don’t update the software. You can only get out of it what you put into it – if you only use it one or two times a week you’re not going to get the most out of it. The most successful customers are actively viewing devices on a daily basis.”
This routine use should include trend reports delivered regularly, Bloomstein adds.

“Depending on your needs, you can run a report on a regular basis to see how power is trending in your data center or view overall capacity in your global portfolio,” says Bloomstein. “You can ask the software to run reports at a predetermined time, or users may come in on Monday and run a report for the previous week – for example, to look at energy consumption and then track down the source of a spike.”

Also consider deploying pre-critical red flags when you initially set up alerts, Bright says. Most DCIM products have alarming functions or other notification capabilities, many of which can also indicate severity levels.

“Let’s say you’re monitoring temperature, and the critical level is 80 degrees F.,” Bright explains. “Set a notification that warns you at 75 degrees first. That allows you to be proactive – you can go make an adjustment to get that temperature back down or double-check a device before it hits the critical level.”

Janelle Penny janelle.penny@buildings.com is senior editor of BUILDINGS.

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