With new data centre designs incorporating more significant numbers of servers per cabinet – often including hundreds of servers in each rack – it is more important than ever for data centre managers and IT administrators to have a better way of managing and monitoring their equipment. This is where employment of a Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution comes in. In fact, according to this report, the DCIM market has been projected to grow from $1.8 billion in 2021 to more than $3.2 billion by 2026, as organisations continue to invest in DCIM solutions as both an element of strategy and a means for increasing operational efficiency! It suffices to say that this is a trend that companies, especially those that own their own on-premise data centres, should not ignore.
If your company owns its own on-premise data centre, you must understand that DCIM monitoring is highly critical as it ensures your business operations continuity. By having a robust DCIM system in place, you are provided with a real-time and holistic view of all the IT assets in your data centre. If any issues arise, your IT team can be notified promptly and address them before it balloons up into significant problems.
In this article, we dive deeper into discussing the importance of DCIM, as well as the considerations when looking to employ the solution for your on-premise data centre
So What Is Exactly Is A DCIM?
A Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is essentially a collection of software and hardware tools that enables monitoring, management and even control of the utilisation and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment in the data centres. We are talking about equipment such as servers, storage, network switches. It provides a real-time, holistic view of all physical assets within a company’s data centre. For some DCIM solutions, it extends the same control over the facility’s infrastructure components, such as the HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system, as well. So in other words, DCIM can integrate these functionality into a single interface that allows you to monitor environmental conditions, power usage, and energy use throughout your whole on-premise data centre.
Data centres always face operational challenges such as limited space, high maintenance costs, high power consumption (often directly associated with running and cooling of equipment), network connectivity constraints, environmental factors (such as temperature or humidity control), and especially security issues (including access control, firewalls, and encryption). The implementation of DCIM gives data centre managers the ability to manage these data centre complexities through increased situational awareness, because it can supply real-time information across all systems in the data centre – including power, cooling, network availability, and server performance to the person or team in charge of your on-premise data centre!
Why Do l Need A DCIM Specifically For My On-Premise Data centre?
Every data centre contains equipment that needs to be replaced now and then. Keeping track of your data centre inventory can help you avoid a failure due to a lack of replacement parts when you need them. A DCIM software system is the tool that can provide you with an accurate, real-time view of all components in your on-premise data centre. Some DCIM solutions also have the capability of assessing an IT asset’s energy and performance level, and then providing pre-emptive warnings and/or alarms before a malfunction occurs, guaranteeing that the asset remains operational. This information allows for improved asset management and avoiding wasteful and costly over-provisioning. Having a bird’s eye view of all your data centre inventory allows you to track their health more effectively and efficiently. Thus, having a DCIM for your on-premise data centre also ensures that you are running your business in the most efficient way possible. It is an essential part of achieving maximum data centre efficiency, helping you minimise downtime and optimise power, cooling, and space utilisation. Let us discuss in further details the benefits that having a DCIM solution can bring for your on-premise data centre.
1. Improved Visibility
Data centre managers require essential information about their equipment. They also need to see up-to-the-minute status reports on metrics such as temperature, humidity levels, power usage and performance level. A DCIM system enables this information to be measured in real-time and can generate reports almost instantaneously. This drastically helps to improve the visibility of the statuses of these equipment, which allows for better response time in case of failures.
Some DCIM solutions also allow users to see how power is distributed, measured, and managed throughout the whole data centre – including backup generators. This may provide some insights into the health state of each piece of equipment housed in the facility. With the ability to monitor the power distribution and consumption more closely, you can evaluate the power usage down to rack and even server level, which allows you to find opportunities to improve power efficiency and enable cost savings.
It also gives you visibility on spatial deployment of your IT equipment, thus allowing you to quickly identify under-used racks and re-locate equipment to optimise space and fetch higher ROI for the investment in your on-premise data centre.
2. Asset Management
A DCIM system also allows data centre managers to track all the IT assets throughout their lifecycle. In fact, you can track everything done to each of them, such as the most recent upgrade, the work completed, the individual involved, etc. Furthermore, by centralising such information, the entire Data centre can be administered and maintained much more efficiently and effectively, thus reducing unnecessary costs, improving uptime, and increasing productivity. As mentioned earlier, having a DCIM system can also reduce operating expenses by providing more insight into power and utility usage. By reducing the amount of downtime associated with equipment malfunction, you can also improve labour costs and productivity.
Many of the normal procedures and operations in a data centre can also be automated with a good DCIM solution. Automation ensures agility, which is critical for fulfilling the requests and demands of end users. It can also create additional capacity for your IT department as they are now less burdened with mundane and routine chores, thus allowing them to focus on more productive and innovative work and new projects. The end users benefit from this greater agility as well, which helps to boost work efficiency as well as workplace morale!
4. Enhanced Security
Security is paramount when it comes to data centres. Having a DCIM system gives you the improved visibility and continuous monitoring of all your IT assets, and allows you to spot any irregularities or unusual behaviours exhibited not just by the equipment, but also by the personnel involved as well, due to the extensiveness of asset tracking features a DCIM can provide. This in turn enables the enhancement of protection of your hardwares from potential attacks, sabotages and even theft. Some DCIM solutions also come with integrated security features, such as “Role-based permissions” functionality where different personnel are given different level of access to the data centre, as well as “Audit Report” functionality where an audit trail allows the management to track who made what changes and when, and use these report to investigate the course of actions in the events of failures, damage or security breaches.
How Should I Choose A Suitable DCIM Solution Then?
The main limitation of employing a DCIM solution for your on-premise data centre would actually be the expensive initial cost of implementing it. The initial outlay can appear to be significant, but the investment will be worthwhile in the long run. Besides the cost of initial installation, there is the cost of maintenance as well. These are considerations which cannot be neglected. In order to choose a suitable DCIM solution, we propose that you can consider these factors:
1. Size Of Your On-Premise Data centre
There are two primary DCIM implementation scenarios, namely (A) Localised Management and (B) Centralised Management, and each is suited for different data centres sizes.
If your on-premise data centres are smaller-sized, or perhaps it is just a server room that houses a few racks, it is recommended to go for “Localised Management” DCIM system. This system is usually installed in the equipment room or server room and offers a web-based interface that enables the IT technician to monitor and control servers, storage, and networking equipment from a central location. The benefits include less initial investment, lower cost of maintenance, and ease of installation.
But if your on-premise data centres are full blown enterprise-sized data centres, then it is recommended to go for “Centralised Management” DCIM system. This system is typically installed in a central location, which may or may not be within the data centre facility, with access to all equipment throughout the whole facility. The benefits include more robust features and functionalities, and offers a single, centralised user interface that enables a company’s IT department to troubleshoot and manage problems quickly and efficiently from one location, even though the issue is physically located far away from the staff. The downside will be of course, the higher cost of implementation and higher cost of maintenance as well.
2. DCIM Vendor Capabilities
Besides the cost of implementation and maintenance, it is important to work with a vendor that is able to address and support the needs specific to your on-premise data centre. As mentioned, the cost of employing a DCIM solution isn’t limited to just the initial cost, if we look at the long term horizon, the regular maintenance cost of both the DCIM hardware and software tools can amount to a substantial amount as well.
So, if you are already convinced that a DCIM is essential for your on-premise data centre, the next step would be to choose a good vendor that can deliver. A good DCIM vendor should possess the following capabilities:
- Modular system for data centre expansion
- Standardised communication protocols
- Alarm management
- Ability to manage physical and virtual assets – including storage, networking, servers, and other equipment.
- Accuracy in power metrics so you can more efficiently evaluate and utilise your power and UPS systems.
- Capacity for reporting and predictive analysis using historical data. Using trend analysis will allow you to make informed decisions about system changes and upgrades.
- Ability to interface with other management applications within the data centre.
- Remote access via a web browser or other IT management software
DCIM systems are essential tools to manage any on-premise data centre operations better. Data centres are now more significant than ever before, so the DCIM system is no longer just an optional “luxurious add-on feature” but a necessity system that can help you monitor and control your data centre operation. Today’s DCIM systems have evolved into comprehensive management tools that offer significant benefits not only for the IT staff taking care of the data centre operations but also for the end-users as well. It empowers your business to remain robust and competitive; definitely a worthwhile investment for sure!
If you would like to seek professional expertise to assist and guide you on this journey, consult our leading experts from Vallous today! We will provide you with a complimentary, non-obligatory, vendor-neutral consultation and proposal of a personalised solution based on your on-premise data centres and your business needs. So what are you waiting for? Click on the button below to book your complimentary consultation with our experts TODAY!