The modern data center is a complex and multi-faceted ecosystem that presents a variety of challenges in terms of day-to-day operations. Not only do they need to host and manage high-performance IT equipment, but they also provide the physical infrastructure for those assets. From power and cooling to physical security and cabling, the data center environment has everything organizations need to deploy their sophisticated technology assets and build the networks that allow them to connect with their customers. Keeping that infrastructure running efficiently and with minimal to no downtime requires a very specialized set of software tools.
What Is Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)?
The most effective and reliable colocation providers and cloud facilities deploy data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools to get a better picture of what’s happening throughout their mission-critical systems. A good DCIM platform gathers and consolidates information regarding performance, energy usage, environmental conditions, and network status to provide data center managers with a single source of truth for everything that’s happening within the facility.
Rather than juggling multiple systems and monitoring them manually, data centers can use DCIM software to manage every aspect of their infrastructure and automate routine tasks. As more and more organizations implement hybrid IT solutions that incorporate various combinations of colocated hardware and cloud computing, the ability to quickly assess the data center environment and make rapid, continuous adjustments to ensure optimal performance is quickly becoming a competitive advantage for colocation providers.
5 Benefits of DCIM Software
There are several benefits to implementing a DCIM solution, all of which combine to help reduce costs and streamline operations. Although some providers build and deploy their own proprietary systems, the very best software is often developed by third-party companies because they can provide more versatility and vendor-agnostic features.
1. Improved Visibility
Perhaps the most important benefit of DCIM software is its ability to provide greater visibility into what’s actually happening throughout the data center. Good DCIM tools can monitor everything from power consumption, temperature, and airflow to bandwidth, device health, and security status. Operating a data center without this information is akin to flying an airplane with no instrument panels because if something goes wrong, it’s nearly impossible to identify the source of the problem quickly enough to prevent disaster. With DCIM monitoring, data center managers can easily identify potential problems and make ongoing adjustments to improve performance and avoid downtime.
2. Streamlined Asset Management
Organizations want to know that they’ll be able to keep track of their IT assets after they migrate them into a colocation facility. If a server needs to be rebooted or a new interconnection needs to be added, the last thing they want to hear is that data center personnel can’t locate the server because somebody moved it and didn’t manually update a spreadsheet. Thanks to DCIM tools that utilize IoT sensors and RFID tags, colocation providers can instantly locate and assess the status of vital customer assets. In many cases, they can even provide a graphic visualization of where equipment is located on the data floor and how it’s performing over time. This not only provides peace of mind for customers, but also greatly improves response times for IT tickets.
3. Enhanced Security
Good DCIM tools don’t just focus on performance and infrastructure efficiency. They can also provide another line of defense against cyberattacks by continuously monitoring activity and generating alerts when a potential threat is identified. Of course, colocation data centers also offer a number of physical security benefits. Since DCIM software can integrate with sensors placed throughout the facility, it can be used to manage access and ensure that no unauthorized persons are able to gain entry or interact with key assets.
4. Energy Efficiency
Data centers are always looking for ways to optimize performance and squeeze a bit more
efficiency out of their infrastructure. Thanks to DCIM tools, they can use a combination of real-time monitoring and machine learning to make continuous adjustments to various environmental systems to improve energy utilization. Some of the biggest gains in this area involve cooling infrastructure because DCIM software can identify where hot spots are located and predict when more cooling will be needed based on historical trends. By reducing energy consumption, data centers can both reduce their carbon footprint and pass the power savings on to their customers.
5. Insightful Data Analytics
All of the monitoring information gathered by DCIM software can be put to good use by analytics tools that are able to identify historical trends and offer data-based suggestions on how to improve infrastructure performance. This is helpful not only for minimizing downtime risks, but also for planning and budgeting for the future. Performance analytics at the individual asset level can even help to predict when hardware is expected to fail, allowing data center technicians to replace critical infrastructure components before they pose a threat to the facility’s uptime. The same monitoring can also provide insights into customer assets, which helps them to plan their IT strategies accordingly.
On-Premises DCIM vs Cloud-Based DCIM
Although DCIM software has traditionally been deployed on-premises, a new generation of DCIM tools are available as cloud-based solutions. While on-prem DCIM remains one of the best ways to consolidate information coming from power and environmental readings, on-site security systems, and individual devices, it tends to be more limited in terms of predictive analytics, which helps anticipate future events, and prescriptive analytics, which provides suggestions for improvement. That’s because predictive and prescriptive algorithms need huge quantities of data to provide truly impactful outcomes.
Cloud-based DCIM platforms frequently connect to a “data lake” that gathers and anonymizes information drawn from multiple data centers and edge locations. This greater pool of data allows the platform to provide more accurate insights into performance by comparing different strategies deployed by several facilities. The information can even go more granular, drilling down to the device level. Rather than analyzing the life expectancy of a UPS in one data center over a few years, it can make a determination based on data from hundreds of examples from facilities around the world.
Another advantage of cloud-based DCIM systems is ease of access. Since they’re not actually hosted on-site, data center personnel can connect to the system remotely over a web portal or mobile app without having to set up a VPN using a laptop. This allows them to respond to issues quickly and maintain even better visibility into what’s going on in the data center.
DCIM in Evoque Data Centers
As part of an ongoing effort to improve performance and efficiency across multiple colocation facilities around the world, Evoque Data Center Solutions has made large investments in DCIM tools. Partnering with Schneider Electric, one of the world’s leading DCIM providers, Evoque has implemented a combination of on-premises and cloud-based solutions to maximize visibility and control over its data center infrastructure.
Each colocation site has adopted the StruxureWare Data Center Expert DCIM to tie multiple data center devices, sensors, and equipment into a single, user-friendly management platform. In addition to providing enhanced visibility and allowing personnel to quickly install and deploy new infrastructure devices, this powerful DCIM also works hand in hand with the cooling management solution from Vigilent to further enhance energy efficiency.
Since Evoque data centers help customers implement a variety of hybrid-cloud and multi-site deployments, however, another solution was needed that could provide visibility across the entire colocation and cloud ecosystem. That’s why Evoque has also implemented IT Advisor a revolutionary cloud-based DCIM system that provides unparalleled visibility into distributed IT environments. With EcoStruxure IT in place, Evoque data center managers can access real-time information from any location, both physical colocation facilities and virtualized cloud infrastructure. They can also draw insights from the global benchmarking and analytics data gathered in the EcoStruxure data lake, which provides more than 100 billion anonymized and analyzed records from data centers around the world to help improve decisions on the performance, efficiency, and health of equipment.
Enhance Your IT Potential with Evoque Solutions
Evoque’s multi-pronged approach to DCIM solutions is part of an ongoing effort to blur the lines between colocation and cloud services. With data centers strategically positioned around the world and comprehensive cloud consulting services that help organizations make the best decisions for their application needs, Evoque Data Center Solutions is driving digital transformation as part of its innovative Multi-Generational Infrastructure Strategy.
To learn more about how this seamless mix of colocation, interconnection, and cloud expertise can help your organization drive down costs and increase workload flexibility, talk to one of our solutions experts today.