I took the opportunity on a recent visit to Schneider Electric’s European Enterprise Technology Centre to ask Soeren Jensen, Vice President of Enterprise Software, how customers looking to outsource IT into a colocated (colo) data center should be thinking about their DCIM and monitoring needs.
There’s been a lot of discussion about outsourcing data centers in the media and many companies are considering to at least including outsourced facilities as part of their portfolio. I was interested to know what Soeren and his team had been learning that we could share with customers to help them make strong decisions with respect to ensuring the have the optimum levels of DCIM and monitoring in third party data centers.
Soeren began by pointing out that many colocation (colo) and cloud service providers already run highly sophisticated DCIM tools which are monitoring their control systems, including power and cooling. Some colo operators also operate sophisticated capacity management systems and Soeren told me he’d seen some of these first hand in customer facilities around the world. Organisations making this move to third party facilities need to be thinking about what kind of monitoring information they want to see and enter into dialogue about specifics they require with every potential supplier.
Fundamentally it’s about finding the right balance of information you need to give you the clarity and the data feeds that enable you to monitor key aspects for your equipment whilst realising it won’t make sense for your provider to share all data with you. For example if you’re sharing a UPS or a cooling unit, giving you that particular data may not prove as useful as it would if you weren’t in a shared environment. So this is also a challenge for the colo provider – how can they give you the information that’s most useful and actionable that’s supporting your particular IT infrastructure. Finding that balance will typically require discussion between both parties, so it’s important to choose a provider that’s happy to do this and is collecting good information.
Soeren’s advice was to consider a range of things as you prepare to move in. You should probably have access to general information about maintenance windows. When are the critical systems that support your environment being maintained? What type of alert should you see? What type of alert should you see in real time versus after the fact? Access to power draw, access to real time information over a given time period are also things that you should probably see. Any software tools/systems provided by your supplier should be easily accessible. You shouldn’t have to log into 15 different password systems to feel secure. The colo provider’s gateway should be secure, but it should be easily accessible, for you and your staff.
Soeren also recommended having an integrated link to your colocators’ web portal or service portal that you already have access to, so you can easily request and see how your infrastructure integrates into the rest of the services that are provided to you.
The market has moved on a long way from where you simply put some servers into colocation and paid your fees for space and some power without really knowing very much about what you were paying for. I wondered if the companies that are outsourcing IT really need this much information?
Soeren told me that where the level of information being provided to customers wasn’t right that some colo customers had moved to installing their own sensors for monitoring which really shouldn’t be necessary, so there’s a trust element at work too. Monitoring and management systems need to be reliable and accurate and sharing an appropriate quantity and range of data.
If you’d like to learn more about how Schneider Electric can help in colocation environments we have both products and information including white papers available to help you whether you’re a provider or an end customer.