Automate Data Center Efficiency with Software Tools

Sept. 24, 2013
Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) optimizes performance automatically.

There are several data center challenges facing the commercial industry, and proposed solutions just aren’t computing.

Data centers use 10-30 times more energy per square foot than office space and have an average downtime cost of $300,000 per hour, according to a report from UBM Tech and InformationWeek Marketing Services.

Nearly 25% of companies will run out of capacity in at least one of their sites this calendar year, Siemens estimates. Increasing government regulations and the misalignment of IT and facility departments represent more abstract challenges.

There may be a better way to serve server rooms – data center infrastructure management (DCIM).

DCIM software tools monitor, measure, and manage data center performance, utilization, and energy consumption, says Yue Ma, senior product manager of DCIM solutions at Siemens.

“With the proliferation of cloud computing, mobile devices, big data, and web hosting, data centers are facing constant change requirements,” Ma says. “In order to accommodate all these changes, the IT and facilities departments need to have constant coordination.”

This collaboration does not just involve people, Ma explains. It should also entail the relationship between systems.

“Are you going to manage individual systems continuously and independently? Maybe, but only to a certain extent,” Ma says. “To reach the next level of data center management, you need a unified approach. Integration through DCIM of your core infrastructure can not only bring more capacity, but also hard financial savings.”

Via its interface, DCIM software provides benchmarking graphs, alarm notification, and other performance analysis. Real-time monitoring allows operators to respond to energy spikes before they become costly concerns.

DCIM tools integrate facets of building, system, and energy management and enable users to understand data center performance with a holistic perspective. “It bridges the gap between IT and facility management,” Ma says.

If the facilities department wants to perform preventive maintenance, the FM can understand the potential impact on IT and maintain minimal disruption, Ma explains. Conversely, if IT wants to add or move assets, the facilities staff can be involved from the start to provide a planning and operations perspective.

Although a new technology, DCIM has already been deployed by international IT firm Atos in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

In one data center, Atos was able to see that cooling fans were working too hard and the tile layout was suboptimal. Acting on a DCIM trigger, Atos rectified the errors and observed 9% energy savings after two weeks, which amounts to 50 kW per year. Additionally, one cooling unit had been working harder while others were idling more. Balancing the load improved the life expectancy of all cooling assets.

Data is often decentralized, incomplete, and inaccurate, but software makes sense of it, Ma says. Having an accurate baseline allows you to pinpoint problems and implement guided solutions.

“Information helps you make smarter decisions to optimize your data center operations,” Ma says. “The goal is to move from a reactive state of affairs to prevention and control.”

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