Data Center

Ensure Your Bases are Covered: Categorize Your Data Center Management Tools

In an ideal world, data center managers would have a single software package that addresses all of their data center management needs. The reality, though, is far from that.

The typical data center has myriad tools that fulfill specific requirements and a host of legacy management tools that are not cost-effective to replace.  Given that, in many cases it’s more cost effective to integrate these disparate tools using new standards and protocols, such as web services, than it is to recreate the functionality of the software by building a new “unified” system.

But just getting a handle on which tools you have in place – and which you may need – can be a daunting task. To help sort it out, it’s helpful to categorize your data center operations management tools, so you can see where you’re covered and where you may have some holes to fill.

We’ve identified four main categories of operations management tools, each with their own subsets:  Monitoring & Automation, Planning & Implementation, Dashboard and Data Collection.

Monitoring & Automation

Tools grouped with within the Monitoring & Automation category generally ensure the data center functions as designed and that activities are automated to maximize the availability and efficiency of the data center. Monitoring & Automation software acts upon user-set thresholds by alarming, logging and even controlling physical devices. Subsystems in the Monitoring & Automation category include facility power, facility environmental control, facility security subsystems, and IT room management.

Planning & Implementation

The second category of tools, Planning & Automation, ensures the efficient deployment of new equipment, orderly and well-tracked changes in the data center, tracking of assets and simulation of potential changes to analyze the future impact on the data center.

Five subsystems fall within Planning & Implementation:

  • Facility asset management, for management of asset deployment, calibration, costing and tracking of building equipment assets.
  • Facility capacity management, to help with moves and changes, provide real-time measurements of energy consumption and water flows, and project impact of changes to the power and cooling infrastructure.
  • IT room workflow management, which presents a hierarchical overview of data center locations, including global and local views, and from groups to single assets.
  • IT room capacity management, to identify optimal physical location for power, cooling, and rack-based IT equipment from a power consumption perspective.
  • IT room asset and lifecycle management, for the management of IT room inventory and tracking of available space.

Dashboard

Data center managers require some means for consolidating critical information about the performance of their data center and to visualize the data in a manner that is meaningful and actionable. As data centers become more complex, the information needs to be easily formatted and presented into a formal dashboard. A dashboard captures data from the three other categories of tools, enabling operators to monitor KPIs and see data summaries.

Data Collection

The data collection category represents devices such as meters, power protection devices, embedded cards, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), sensors and other such devices. These devices perform the fundamental function of gathering data and forwarding it to management software for processing.

Hopefully you’ve got data center operations management tools that fit into each of those main categories, so you can have some confidence you’re covering all the bases.  To learn more about the various tools you may want to consider, check out the APC by Schneider Electric white paper, “Classification of Data Center Operations Technology (OT) Management Tools.”


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