Five attributes define a smarter DCIM platform

Sheila Zabeu -

June 30, 2022

In the early days, everything was centralized. This was the reality of datacenters a few decades ago, but now the scenario is different. The change started to happen when cloud computing and colocation service providers emerged, which rent facilities and infrastructure for power, networking, cooling, bandwidth, and physical security to third parties. Customers, meanwhile, distribute their owned and leased physical and virtual IT assets across multiple locations.

And all indications are that there is no sign of slowing down in the data center industry. A report from Fortune Business Insights indicates that global demand for more efficient technologies combined with the economic advantages of connectivity applications have contributed to exponential growth in the scale and power of data centers. As the report points out, the global data center infrastructure market is expected to reach $142.31 billion by 2027.

Managing and maintaining this sophisticated, if not to say almost chaotic, datacenter landscape is challenging. Managing distributed infrastructures and at the same time ensuring support for more users globally, in a scenario where skilled labour is scarce and high availability and energy efficiency are a must, is an almost Herculean task.

And these obstacles present themselves for both larger colocation facilities and enterprise datacenters. All suffer the growing pains of advancing digital solutions.

For this reason, datacenter management tools have been forced to evolve, gaining more intelligence and dynamism to present information about equipment location, connectivity points, and power consumption, for example, that can give organizations insights to identify areas of improvement in operations. More recently, new challenges have emerged, such as making small implementations more agile, even in the presence of staff constraints, or even meeting sustainability goals and defending against cyber threats.

A recent article sponsored by Schneider Electric describes five attributes that a modern Datacenter Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution should have to ensure an effective job of managing these environments. It should, for example, simplify deployment regardless of the number of assets and locations, optimize operations and maintenance through digital analytics and services, and provide data and tools to ensure integration with existing applications and management services. The image below shows such an advanced cloud-based solution optimized for hybrid environments.

A modern DCIM platform can be defined by five key attributes that differentiate it from traditional solutions designed for a single or small number of data centers:

1. Use cloud technologies for easier deployment, expansion, analysis, and maintenance. By hosting the DCIM server in the cloud, deployment will be simpler and faster, eliminating the need to purchase a new server for each site. In other words, next-generation DCIM systems are installed as a simple gateway application on an existing server (physical or virtual). And because each site would require a separate DCIM server using traditional solutions, these time savings can be significant when there are dozens or hundreds of small remote sites. This also makes advanced DCIM systems highly scalable, being able to handle an unlimited number of monitored devices at any number of sites.

2. Connect to a data lake to present insights and predict events using Artificial Intelligence (AI). DCIM solutions in the cloud also allow you to tap into data lakes or secure repositories of anonymized device data. Big data analytics and machine learning can be developed and trained on this data to generate insights and make predictions that improve reliability and efficiency and/or reduce operational expenses. Battery failure prediction and real-time optimization of cooling systems are two examples of big data analytics and artificial intelligence applied to physical datacenter infrastructures.

3. Use mobile and web technologies and integrate with third-party platforms. End users, partners, and trusted vendors can access the same data at the same time from any browser or mobile device. This gives real-time visibility into all assets and sites and reduces the need to have management teams at all sites. For example, untrained staff can be remotely helped to troubleshoot problems.

4. Prioritize simplicity and intuitive user experiences.

5. Serve as a security compliance tool to identify and eliminate potential cyber threats. Modern DCIM systems also act as security tools to ensure a resilient environment. They simplify this task by automating vulnerability detection and generation. Some solutions do this using a threat assessment tool and notify you if the configuration of any device puts it at risk. Devices with outdated firmware are also identified.

In short, DCIM solutions have evolved and become more intelligent with data-driven technologies and the use of AI. As a result, they are making the lives of datacenter operators easier and improving the operations of these environments.