At a recent visit to Schneider Electric’s European Technology Center, I spoke with Soeren Jensen, Vice President of Enterprise Software to ask him if there is any danger of DCIM becoming isolated from other Enterprise Management Systems and if so, how can this be avoided.
Soeren told me that he believes it’s up to individual DCIM vendors to make sure this doesn’t happen. To do this will require vendors to think hard about managing the access and data to and from DCIM systems and other software platforms. Soeren also said that this isn’t a new problem and that vendors have been considering for some time how they can make the communication between different software suites easier and more seamlessly work together and share data. Not only that but this all needs to be done securely and at scale.
How this process is evolving is that vendors are realising that they can’t be too rigorous, prescriptive or structured about requiring certain types of database architectures or specific ways of doing things. Allowing more creativity and openness in extracting data from various sources whether they’re in spreadsheets, emails or even a log files. Applications need to be able to extract and transform data, load them into a DCIM package or an internal system that needs to utilise the information and all of this needs to be done simply at scale.
From a customer’s point of view it’s important to ask your vendors to help document, validate and test these interactions and interfaces up front. If you do this, you’ll make sure you don’t get unwelcome surprises and it should be easy for vendors to do a quick proof of concept to demonstrate the integration aspects of their offer. However, when you move to production things can change and you need to watch out for that. It’s important to check that production systems are demonstrating these rich ways of exchanging information across platforms and services and this ought to be a key requirement in selecting your vendor either for you DCIM system or your enterprise management system.
At Schneider Electric as a vendor of DCIM Software, Soeren added that from time to time when crossing domains or through software integrations we sometimes see requests on our systems that are highly demanding on our architecture. This can place constraints on the way our system can handle these particular requests.
Given all of the above, I was curious to know if this might suggest a more open source future for entire DCIM management suites but Soeren was quick to tell me this isn’t the likely way forwards. Instead what he felt was more likely, especially in the short to medium term, is an increased use of APIs (application programming interfaces) and web services that will facilitate open communication between software platforms including acting as a gateway to all data and clearly documented ways of accessing and sharing that data. This will enable customers to maximise their ability to get the data they need accurately, easily and continuously for whichever combinations of platforms they are using.
It’s possible open sourcing may happen at some point in the future but right now it’s more important for us to be making sure our interfaces are rich and that we both as Schneider Electric and as the DCIM industry are making it easy for our partners and our customers to build useful, easy and useful services and applications that enhance the experience and the types of problems we can solve for customers.