Efficient Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) Addresses Seven Key Issues
Every data center/server room in the industry must deal with problems that pertain to cooling, energy efficiency, management tools, power, and integrated IT service management. Those who manage these data center infrastructure functions must learn how to best assess data center availability. This means that they need tools and methods that enable the data center manager to monitor cooling concerns, power efficiency, service performance, and cost effectiveness.
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DCIM Requires Learned Skills
The core of efficient Data Center Infrastructure Management consists of a series of learned processes. Effective data centers function along certain lines of monitoring and regulation. To control down time and ensure successful operations, the data center manager must acquire the skills to resolve the associated complications. Training comes about via advanced schooling, hands-on experience, personal study, and review of proven solutions.
Here are the top seven questions that every DCIM solution must resolve. I make no attempt, at this time, to expand on the actual solutions. Each is in and of itself a major article. My goal is that of pricking your mind, awakening certain areas of thought, and motivating you toward further research on each issue.
The Core Of Efficient Data Center Infrastructure Management
These questions are not presented in any specific order. Each is accompanied by a very brief explanation.
1) What is the impact of Data Center hardware and configuration on energy efficiency and service availability?
Proper hardware and infrastructure configuration are key factors in PUE and SLA statistics. In essence a data center can be seen as a single machine purposed to produce computation at the least expensive cost of consumed energy. The physical hardware serves as the machine’s engine. The physical infrastructure functions as the machine’s power train. These are the links on which all other data center functions must rely. They may not be the weakest links in the system, but they are the most crucial components to success.
2) What are the best and most approved methods for improving data center energy efficiency?
The IT industry has come a long way in developing standards for the methodology of data center management. For example: The ITIL standards for converged infrastructure management articulate the what’s, how’s and why’s of proper data center management, but they do not claim to be the tools to follow these methods.
By analogy, home-building codes may teach you how to properly build a house, but you still need a hammer, nails, and other tools in order to accomplish the actual job. DCIM is positioned as the toolset for implementing standard methods in a systemic and automated fashion.
3) What types of Data Center management tools best optimize Data Center performance and availability?
Data center management incorporates a wide variety of tools. From an infrastructure standpoint, most of these tools fall under one or more of the following categories:
- Asset Management
- Cable Management
- Resource / Environmental Monitoring
- Ticketing / Change Management
- Modeling / Simulation
- Reporting and Alert / Alarm systems.
To fully account for the complex variables required in efficient data center optimization, a solution must be found for all of these categories. DCIM proposes to integrate these solutions into a single platform.
4) What most impacts data center availability and how can the results be improved?
A number of factors impact data center availability. However, evidence points to a single underlying factor – confidence. The fear of operational downtime hunkers on the shoulders of every data center manager, designer, or engineer. The struggle to devise an efficient safety net produces wasted overhead, sub-optimal capacity, and sometimes actually causes operational downtime.
DCIM offers to improve availability by providing confidence, validation, and integrity. This comes about via reduced human error through intelligent change management, automated conditioned response to the data center systems, and instant metrics and status reporting.
5) What is the best way to monitor and optimize data center performance and availability?
While sensor and managed monitoring is important, it tends to be responsive and reactive. Current technologies establish a reaction pattern that seeks to be more and more “real-time” in nature. Yet in actual practice, monitoring will always be trying to catch up to what’s happening now.
DCIM technologies offer simulation as a new approach. By combining simulated and monitored environments we can begin to optimize performance based on future scenarios rather than current happenings.
6) What methods are best for measuring the IT Service Management metrics?
This area of DCIM is breaking new ground every day. It incorporates an entirely different technology in the management of IT services and software layer management. Yet a gap remains and it must be bridged.
Data center managers need a way to directly tie physical assets and resources to the IT and software services that run on them. By opening wider doors so that individual business entities consume a broader spectrum of the physical landscape, Cloud computing increases this need for tying assets and resources into a single bundle.
The best way to measure and process these metrics is by integrating with the solutions presented via the DCIM environment.
7) What are the current and projected methods for establishing DCIM standards?
We must be careful that no specific approach blind us to new and improved methods. When reviewing the practical steps for implementing efficient DCIM standards, we cannot afford to get locked in on any given process.
For example: Some data center managers may conceive that ITIL standards are the “only” existing approach to DCIM configuration. However, many DC managers don’t like ITIL. Arguing that the ITIL methods may look great in theory but are too draconian to hold up in a true operating environment, they express great preference for other standards.
Now we may use ITIL as an example of DCIM standards, but we should not make it seem like the only game in town: i.e. ISO 20000, ITSBOK, etc.. We should also remember that “best practices” are indeed, just that. Each is a framework of how to establish management in an IT environment. These processes are often cherry picked and much is discarded when implemented in the real world. In rare instances, a facility may be required to deploy a full method – government, education, and others – but even then it is not typically ITIL.
IT services methods are not the only standards addressed by DCIM processes. Examples:
- Cabling standards such as BICSI
- Power Infrastructure standards
- AND, there is a whole range of health and safety standards that are addressed as well.
DCIM fits squarely at the intersection where all of the separate worlds converge. Everyone’s processes/methods/standards play out within the solutions. This is why companies need expertise like mine to design and deploy.