Maximizing DCIM: The Right Lifecycle, Not Just The Right Solution

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When it comes to deployment of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software, there can be projects that seem to have everything in place in terms of the design and specification of the solution, but somehow fall short on delivering full value.

A given project can be well designed—involving the right type of multidisciplinary team on the customer side to properly identify business requirements, and to help scope and specify the software solution. The vendor and the customer team may even have done an adequate job of identifying needed integration to other systems used in the data center, and spec’d the integration services into the project. All this, and yet in some cases, months after go live, the DCIM deployment doesn’t quite stack up to expectations.

What’s likely happening here? It’s very possible that the problem isn’t the software or solution scope per se, but rather, that it was not implemented under a software lifecycle methodology in which the vendor validates that at key steps in the deployment, the configurations and outputs map back to business requirements and return on investment (ROI) goals.

In other words, success with DCIM (for a more detailed look at DCIM, see white paper 107) isn’t just about having the right solution specified—it hinges on a rigorous, lifecycle implementation approach.

Let’s break down some typical implementation areas to see where there might be gaps in the absence of a lifecycle approach.

  • Design and business requirements. Selecting the right modules to match functional needs is core to the design phase, but a more progressive life-cycle approach might look ahead to what’s really needed by a particular customer. For example, a company may want to make warranty status information visible within the data center asset management function.  For other user companies—perhaps a Cloud services provider—capacity management in DCIM might be the priority, with more attention put on training for this module as part of the solution design.
  • Validation. When validation is discussed as part of DCIM deployment, most people tend to think in technical terms, such as whether the integration to other systems is in place, or, are the alerts up and running correctly? Yes, these are necessary types of validation, but as part of a lifecycle approach, it may be just as important to validate that ROI is on track, or that a high priority function—such as efficiency metrics—are complete and user friendly.
  • User training. All good implementations involve user training, but a lifecycle-focused deployment might look ahead to factors such how reports from capacity planning might be used by people in sales or other line of business functions, not just the data center managers. Training can be brought to a higher level when the vendor can provide access to subject matter experts on specific functions within DCIM.
  • Post-deployment review. In truth, post implementation review should be more of a fine-tuning or an analysis of advanced improvements, rather than a first-cut assessment of whether goals are being reached. That sort of assessment should be happening at key steps in the project.

Under a more rigorous lifecycle approach, the configuration of the software can still be streamlined and simple in many respects, but at key stages in the deployment—such as solutions design, configuration, pilot testing, user acceptance testing, production deployment—the project leaders should be validating that all the steps have been done correctly, and mapping outcomes back to the business requirements to ensure goals will be met. At the end of the day, DCIM needs to be deployed in a way that meets those requirements to bring maximum value to the customer.

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