It’s no surprise that Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) has become increasingly important for facility management professionals, or that demand for DCIM is on the rise. But what exactly is DCIM? Why are facility managers suddenly discussing the benefits it brings to their operation?
Let’s start with the essentials. DCIM has been described as the convergence of IT and building facilities functions within an organization. Because DCIM offers the ability to oversee data center infrastructure and equipment integration, its goal is to provide facility managers with a holistic view of a data center’s performance, so that equipment, energy, and floor space are used as efficiently as possible.
DCIM started out as a component of building information modeling (BIM) software, which is commonly used by facilities managers to create building digital schematic diagrams. DCIM tools bring the same capabilities to data centers, allowing managers to monitor, measure, manage, and control data center use and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment (such as servers, storage and network switches), as well as facility infrastructure components (including power distribution units and computer room air conditioners) in real time.
DCIM tools can support facility managers in locating and identifying relationships between a building and its IT systems. Energy-monitoring sensors and supporting hardware can be installed along all points of the power infrastructure so that DCIM software can accurately aggregate and analyze power usage effectiveness and cooling system energy efficiency. Some organizations will even couple DCIM with computational fluid dynamic analysis to optimize air flow and systems placement to further reduce cooling expenses.
For facility managers who are presently expected to manage both the building operations and management, in addition to the building’s IT infrastructure, perhaps, the greatest benefit DCIM offers is resource management. DCIM proposes a new way to assess what resources are used in the data center, and the levels of utilization reached, with the result being better facility capacity planning and evaluation. And because it provides continuous modeling, DCIM allows the facility manager to observe and quantify the engineering cause and effect of proposed IT or infrastructure changes before any money has been spent.
As the nerve center of building and facility management, DCIM affords numerous cost and energy savings. Perhaps most important among those benefits are the following:
DCIM for power usage monitoring
DCIM can save vast amounts of energy by identifying and monitoring large areas of power consumption. The estimated amount of power coming into a facility over its use in IT infrastructure is a massive 1.7. Nearly two times as much power is being consumed versus used.
DCIM monitoring software could contribute to the reduction of energy usage by 5%, or even 10%. Also, power-use required by cooling is accountable for nearly 37% of the electricity used by data centers. DCIM could help to identify these inefficiencies resulting in a decrease in energy consumption and a rise in cost savings.
Central inventory management and integration
Managing multiple assets in a data center can cost hundreds or even thousands of labor hours. An integrated DCIM solution can help mitigate this loss through an automated asset discovery engine. This discovery engine would crawl the asset management inventory, searching for all devices and services involved. It could then feed this information into a central repository, such as a configuration management database. Data center managers would save time by easily viewing and understanding the relationships between the services, systems, and devices.
Broader and deeper data analysis
DCIM conserves time and costs through its holistic approach to data analysis. Operators can now see connections between the data and changes in the external environment that may not have been previously apparent. It is now possible through predictive analysis to determine what could happen if various aspects of the data center were altered to determine what costs could be saved and what redundancies could be dismissed.
An integrated DCIM approach can run the facility’s data operations automatically, reducing the costs of human intervention, management, and oversight. It should be capable of handling any issues that arise programmatically, through workflow automation. This, in turn, enables building management to focus on strategic issues and matters of end-user operations that matter more to the enterprise than day-to-day, replicable tasks.
Flexibility of vendor
The notion of a data center is becoming more fluid. Various vendors offer both physical and cloud-based solutions for data operations. In fact, some of the most mission-critical operations of a data center may be run in both the cloud and non-contiguous locations. By utilizing a variety of vendors, integrating systems, tools, protocols, and standards, the DCIM can save costs that a single vendor lock-in might prevent.
Even if you’re not prepared to adopt a DCIM strategy now, you might want to reduce manpower hours or capital expenditures down the road. Facilities can always take small steps now to be baseline prepared for a DCIM transition in the future.
Above all, a DCIM environment can and should provide a synergistic and holistic savings approach to operations management. There’s no one-size-fits-all data solution. Similarly, an out-of-the-box DCIM package may not be right for a facility. But with careful analysis, you should be able to determine if a customized DCIM environment and the benefits in time and energy savings it offers is right for individual facility needs.
Written by Matthew Valleskey
Originally posted on facilityexecutive.com