It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is in increasing demand among building owners and facility management professionals. Having the ability to monitor environmental conditions, power usage, physical and internet security, and production while keeping track of infrastructure and IT equipment spread across their facilities puts a huge burden on traditional facilities managers. So where do you begin? And how do you manage DCIM?
To improve the chances of a successful DCIM implementation, begin by recognizing that it’s a business tool and, as such, will perform best if you can clearly define the goals you anticipate DCIM will help you to achieve. DCIM is not just one thing, but a collection of many components. Because it spans both IT and facilities, two realms normally segregated from each other, this can create the situation where there can be disagreements over budget, responsibility, and management, so processes should be put in place based on roles and responsibilities.
As part of that process, a determination needs to be made as to who will be using the system and for what purpose, how much it will cost to maintain the system, what value the system will add, and whether the existing investment can be leveraged as a data feed into DCIM.
To ensure a DCIM implementation remains aligned to your organization’s business goals and priorities, IT and facilities departments need to take the time to identify the metrics that matter to them – typically those metrics that will help them to make the data center leaner and greener as well as produce the data that will help to optimize production and distribution. An ideal solution should be able to generate metrics across a broad spectrum that includes power availability, IT asset utilization, and metrics such as carbon emissions and water consumption. It should also be able to adapt to new industry measures going forward while allowing for customized metrics as the implementation process matures.
While there may be a long-term plan and goals in mind, consider initially limiting implementation to a single deployment. This will provide a chance to see what works and what doesn’t, troubleshoot problem areas, and, perhaps most importantly, secure a quick win that can be built on as the implementation expands.
Communicating the benefits and ROI from that initial deployment, as well as how it fits into long-term planning and goals for DCIM implementation is essential. Fostering a better understanding of what the overall vision for DCIM is and how each step in its implementation is producing measurable benefits will significantly improve staff acceptance and participation, making subsequent steps in the implementation process easier to accomplish.
Many building owners or managers may not have the staff or expertise in both IT service management (ITSM) and traditional facilities management, and may look to a DCIM vendor to provide technical expertise and management. There are many larger organizations providing both DCIM tools and managed services, but those may be out of reach from a cost perspective for many. An alternative is to divide the responsibilities between in-house staff and a managed service provider, with facilities management handling on-site and day-to-day monitoring and management handled by an outside vendor.
Because DCIM is constantly evolving, more opportunities for optimizing data centers and production undoubtedly will arise in the future. As a result, metrics and analytics requirements from both IT and facilities should be regularly reviewed by the business stakeholders to make certain it is capitalizing on opportunities for continuous improvement.
Matthew Valleskey is the VP of Sales and Marketing at American Technology Services, a leading provider of comprehensive IT services with offices in Baltimore, MD, Bethesda, MD, Raleigh, NC, and Chicago, IL and its headquarters in Fairfax, VA. He has overseen marketing and sales programs at companies such as the US Pharmacopeia, AXENT Technologies, Symantec, TruSecure, Neustar and Metalogix. For more information visit networkATS.com
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