Does the DCIM Business Model Need a House of Cards Makeover?

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What can the data center industry learn from Netflix and House of Cards?

When you talk to data center industry commentators about DCIM, you’ll hear familiar themes emerging: the software is not being adopted as fast as predicted; it’s too complex and time consuming to get useful results; customers are hanging back from committing and waiting to see what their competitors are going to do. This just gives a little flavour of some of the things you might be told.

At one stage 451 Research was tracking over 80 companies taking DCIM products to market. Many of us had expected this number to begin to consolidate over time (I think that Gartner’s list is now down to 70!). Today, the market includes comprehensive solutions from large multinationals as well as point solutions from start-ups. Collectively we are all seeking to educate and convince the market that sophisticated monitoring tools and analytics will help organisations better run data centers.

Wondering about the fud surrounding uptake, I ended up, of all things, looking at the phenomenon that is “House of Cards” – the big budget TV series launched on Netflix rather than on traditional TV channels. The fact that Netflix (who have over 30m subscribers) leveraged data they’d compiled about their audience to give them the confidence to invest US$100m to fund two complete seasons of a drama exclusively for online use is a fine example of the changing way we consume, in this case, television content.

The “House of Cards” story shows that content was what the viewers wanted. Interestingly the people behind the show wanted to produce a TV series rather than a movie because it gave them the opportunity to tell a more in-depth and complex story over a much longer period of time, allowing viewers to become better acquainted with the characters. What the viewers wanted was stories and quality entertainment that they could “consume” on their terms. That is, when they wanted, how they wanted (i.e. platform) and at a price they felt was reasonable.

Even more interesting is how people have often chosen to watch “House of Cards” by binge viewing complete seasons over a single weekend. This is again completely different to how traditional TV is broadcast and consumed – especially for new shows (although I’m guessing many of us have done this when we’ve bought a box set – or even received one for Christmas).

Now what does that have to do with DCIM? Well frankly, “House of Cards” has got me questioning whether the DCIM industry go-to-market is a dated, 20th Century business model. A model that hasn’t embraced the truth that not only has the world has changed, but that it is going to go on changing at an even faster rate.

Most people will be familiar with the concept of Digital Disruption or even the Lean Startup that says in simple terms that much faster and cheaper products will be brought to market in a much shorter time scale and that the customer will choose the best ones. So with respect to DCIM, should we not be considering selling solutions and services rather than software in the traditional way?

If customers aren’t committing to full suites because they’re not sure that they need the soup-to-nuts solution, not only in terms of costs but also usefulness to them, do we need to think about a new way of consuming DCIM with a “House of Cards” model? What functionality do our customers want? How do they want to consume it, where and when? How much do they want to pay for the specific content they need?

When you start to look at it like this, you begin to see different possibilities and by working with customers to determine exactly what they do want from DCIM-style tools and how much value there is to them in these, a whole new model for DCIM could emerge.

The actor who plays the central character Congressman Francis Underwood, Kevin Spacey, said in a speech that he believed that shows like “House of Cards” demonstrated how the television industry was learning lessons that the record industry hadn’t. It has broken the mould, adapted and is thriving. Gaining a better understanding of customer and applying those insights might mean that DCIM is going to be consumed differently to the shrink-wrapped software model. Could this be the next step in DCIM’s evolution, and if it was, would you vote for it?

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  • I agree with this. Will we see a DCIM as a service ? Soon ? I would vote for it. An integrated solution with simplified implementation process and limited capabilities that grows with your organization and gives the opportunity to make a smooth transition.

    Can you imagine this solution ?

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