As more and more enterprises start to embrace DCIM, I’m already thinking about how the software could evolve (and is beginning to already) and how that will serve to both enhance customers’ knowledge about the value of DCIM and how it might also be a catalyst to different ways of operating and managing data centers.
DCIM is still a relatively new product category that will change as the companies who produce the technology will look for new and innovative ways to improve it so that it embraces advances in other fields in order to better suit end customers. As an example, at Schneider Electric we’re heavily involved in Smart City technologies from the grid and buildings, down to charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. What we see in these fields stimulates new thinking for our DCIM offering. We believe that this will enable us to build smarter and more automated solutions that help remove issues that customers are presently worrying about.
Now that’s all well and good for the future but we also know that right at this moment operators are already struggling with older equipment that doesn’t allow them to collect the kind of data they need to obtain best value from DCIM systems. Elsewhere on the data center blog you’ll find a video clip of Ted Schadler of Forrester talking about digital disruption and how one way to harness its benefits is to turn dumb equipment into smart systems.
In the data center sector there are emerging solutions which can add exactly this kind of intelligence through third-party sensors which can be deployed (often wirelessly) into facilities rooms and that help to overcome gaps in monitoring. As the quantity and quality of data points expands across each data center, DCIM could feasibly become de facto data center firmware.
By this I’m using firmware as a term to describe the embedded management software in a device. Sometimes this can be a simple set of instructions, but data centers are complex and therefore any systems software would be required to feature both sophistication and intelligence. Once the right data points are being measured and gathered using intelligent hardware devices, DCIM could be implemented to manage legacy cooling equipment and create a lot of value.
Of course, you can put a dollar value to enabling operators to run higher temperatures inside their facilities as this has a measurable effect on energy cost. It’s a little more difficult to put a price on provisioning dynamic cooling without risk to the IT load. Tools for operating and managing issues like this could potentially remove worry for operators and allow staff to focus on other issues – with temperatures and loads being managed in real time and adjusted automatically. The DCIM of the future could be an essential part of every data center. The firmware if you like.
Whilst DCIM has yet to be considered as such, embracing it now and getting it working well across core parts of your operations gives your organisation a learning path to grow with and to evolve with. It will also enhance your ability to harness the evolutionary process for the benefit of your business whether this is through lower energy costs or by more automated and responsive management tools. DCIM is going to become an even more essential toolset in the data center of tomorrow, when will you get started on the journey?