If Hype Killed DCIM, What’s Next?

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It’s an intriguing question which rather put me in mind of that famous piece by Mark Twain, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” In what turns out to be a similar vein to the above, when the New York Journal printed this oft misquoted line in June 1897, it was Twain himself who was trying to dispel rumours in circulation of his demise.

The well attended panel discussion at DatacenterDynamics Converged London 2014 drew some hard line questioning from an informed audience, as well as some interesting opinion from the expert panellists. Did they believe that hype had indeed killed DCIM? I spoke with Soeren Jensen shortly after the session had finished to get his opinion of what had just transpired.

“It’s fair to say that there’s been some hype,” said Jensen, “But the hype is nothing as compared with the upside and opportunity that DCIM brings to the market. And the level of hype is nowhere near that surrounding Cloud computing or Big Data.

“Maybe the problem is that we’ve latched onto DCIM as a phenomenon that we can all get excited about. It describes a category or new toolset that can actually do wonderful things. Having said, we’re also up against the fact that DCIM is becoming a broad term – in fact one of my fellow panellists said that term is becoming everything and nothing. In fact DCIM is kind of boiling the ocean – which I agree with.

“If you approach it in its most abstract sense and try to do everything, the likelihood of you succeeding is very limited. And we’re seeing that – one of the panellists made the point that 30 percent of DCIM installations made today fail. That’s a thing we should take very seriously and take a long hard look at.

“In fact my experience is that if you don’t treat a DCIM implementation with the utmost respect for the people and the processes that it touches on, you are almost guaranteed to fail. It needs to be treated like any other IT project, and if you don’t, well your chance of failure is high.

What I take away from the panel discussion, with great questions from the audience too, is that any DCIM project starts with you being very clear about what it is you are trying to achieve. What are the business goals that you are trying to fulfil?

“Whatever it is – and I see things like extending the life of your data center – getting four or five more years out of your data center because you can suddenly get visibility of resources like stranded capacity, better insight about what is going on – or if it is reducing your expense by getting control of your energy and making things more efficient.

“Or if it’s simply because you need to improve your service – and that’s something that keeps coming up – that customers need to have a much faster response time to business requests. We’re starting to see tools that can do things in a matter of minutes, but the clock speed on the facilities side is still measured in months or quarters… or years. Even at best. And I thing that’s where DCIM has come in and become that middle man.

“But sometimes to be fair, the expectations of what DCIM can do is far too high. We need to set better expectations and get a better handle on what’s really going on”.

So DCIM isn’t dead, I asked him?

“No, absolutely not,” says Jensen firmly. “I think we’re getting much more grounded. Some analysts have predicted very aggressive growth rates and I’m not sure that they’re even close. I see DCIM as a critical efficiency, cost saving, productivity, visibility tool that will get us into the same notion of speed as we already know from the IT side. And we as an industry have to go there. Software is here to stay, and DCIM is a critical vehicle to improve the service to the business”.

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