DCIM and ITSM; There’s complexity, then there’s complexity

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I’ve been meaning to write a blog about IT Service Management software (ITSM) and DCIM for some time now, so a recent article by David Chernicoff called “When DCIM met ITSM” published on the DatacenterDynamics website was just the inspiration I needed to finally spur myself into action. DCIM delivers results, says Chernicoff, but ITSM integration makes it even more valuable.

Big data and analytics – dare I mention the Internet of Things – means that larger volumes of information from diverse sources will be leveraged for more informed, granular decision making. And we’re a part of that whole trend. For a business like Schneider Electric, which has been involved in adding intelligence to everything from automobile manufacturing plant to oil refineries, airports and some of the world’s largest data centers, we know all too well that there’s a seemingly unquenchable thirst for more and more information.

I agree with Mr Chernicoff when he says that DCIM is now recognised as a valuable piece of the data center puzzle. In fact DatacenterDynamics’s own DCIM research findings as well as other contributing writers have already underlined this fact (see; “Is DCIM finally real?” published May 2015). My colleague Soeren Jensen has already commented upon these articles, if you’d like to read more, please see “Case Study Evidence and Research Document Business Value of DCIM” elsewhere on this blog site.

The challenge presented by the “wealth of DCIM solutions” available, says Chernicoff, is trying to figure out how to integrate them with ITSM tools already in use. I’m interested in two statements he goes on to make; firstly that smaller DCIM vendors are disadvantaged by a lack of integration with larger management systems, putting the ball in the court of the customer to achieve this. Secondly that larger DCIM vendors have started to address the issue of integration now through suites of tools and services.

For me, I think that even with earliest iterations of our DCIM solution – StruxureWare for Data Centers – our eyes were open to the fact that integration with other management software layers was going to be a key success factor. Our experiences in the data center had already demonstrated that end users needed a more holistic view of IT and physical layer dependencies.

This obviously means a wide variety of uses for a wide variety of data center customers, from understanding power, cooling and space capacities in order to optimise hardware placement in the racks, to ensuring no-break operations for virtual machines and even automated migration of applications onto “safe” hardware in real time, in the event of a power or cooling outage.

But let’s face it, for as long we have talked about the need to bridge the gap between IT and facilities professionals in client companies, the industry as a whole struggles over this exact thing – how many brands can tick boxes in categories from processors, servers and storage, to ITSM and DCIM, and data center power, cooling, accommodation and physical security? Yeah right, data centers are complex and the ecosystems that support them are equally so.

To facilitate progression along the maturity model towards a more autonomous data center has meant that we’ve worked hard to build relationships with hardware and software vendors. That’s not to say that we don’t in some circumstances resort to the “open systems software with open APIs” response that Mr Chernicoff mentions; we want data to be made available to other applications and we recognise that some customers and partners might actually want levels of integration outside our normal service offering.

At the same time, if you check the press surrounding StruxureWare for Data Centers over the past years you’ll see that we’ve made important integrations with the industry’s leading vendors to help ensure a dynamic and automated response for data center owners that are continually tasked to provide more processing power with less space, less energy and cost and fewer interruptions in service. While there’s always more to do, I think the evolving picture for DCIM and its capability with ITSM is starting to look good.

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