Sporks Part II: How many tools do you need to manage a data center?

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In one of my recent blogs, I compared sporks (I HATE SPORKS!) and woodworking tools as an analogy to data center management software.  You can find a link to that blog here.

I recommend you give it a read so that this blog will have more context.

I used this spork/woodworking analogy in my presentation last week at the Gartner Symposium ITExpo.

At that event, I was asked a couple of interesting questions:

1)  How do you decide which tools you need?

2)  How many tools have we identified?

The answer to the first question allowed me to beat the woodworking tool analogy even harder.  When I first started renovating houses, I did not buy the full suite of woodworking tools that I own today.  Instead I started with a basic reciprocating saw and radial arm saw.  I thought that would be enough to get me started.  After a while, as I started getting more into the project, I bought more tools as I needed them:  a coping saw to help with molding, a jig saw to cut curves, a band saw for smaller cuts, etc.

I think data center managers should approach software management the same way.  First, identify what the capabilities are that you need today, then buy a tool that meets that need.  In the future, as you may (or may not) need more capability you should be able to easily add tools to the collection.  In other words, you should be able to easily scale and grow your portfolio without having to over-commit today.

The second question is also interesting in that you want to make sure you don’t end up with multiple tools doing the same thing.  I don’t mind having lots of woodworking tools but not if they are all table saws – that’s a waste of money.

I think it’s likely that this question will evolve over time but we took a shot at describing the unique capabilities we see in the market today with our StruxureWare for Data Centers announcement.

On the Data Center Facility Management (DCFM) side of things, I think there are at least three major systems:  Facility Cooling, Facility Power, and IT Room.  I think it’s pretty clear that if you want all the capabilities then you’ll need three tools.

Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is a little less obvious to me since it’s less mature.  At a minimum, it seems clear that you need to start with inventory management.  Change and workflow management tend to be a different capability as is what I like to call ‘true’ capacity management.  (Side note:  “True” capacity management to me means the tool should be able to give recommendations on where to put things – not just draw a statistical line that says ‘…sometime in the future if everything goes as it did  in the past then you’ll need more capacity…’ – thanks a lot for that insight!).

We’ve also implemented a pretty robust impact simulation engine (CFD included) and a energy efficiency modeling system.

So that makes five for DCIM:  Inventory, Change, Capacity, Simulation, and Efficiency Modeling.

What do you think?


Please follow me on Twitter @KevinBrown77


About Kevin Brown:

Kevin Brown is Senior Vice President of Innovation and Chief Technology Officer for the €3.7 billion IT Division at Schneider Electric. In this role, he is responsible for driving innovation and managing the R&D portfolio for the IT Division as well as driving the overall Schneider Electric portfolio strategy for the Data Center market. Prior to this position Kevin served as Vice President, Data Center Global Strategy and Technology. Kevin has also held numerous senior management roles in product development, engineering, and software development in the power electronics and HVAC industries. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University.




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