Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools have had a number of approaches to save data center managers time, money and uptime. While the different tools have come from different directions in the industry, such as facilities or communications, the tools themselves are all performing well when used as intended. Managing assets, capacity, change, power, energy, and the environmental conditions are among the ways that DCIM products can help managers save, and when combined the savings can be stretched even further.
Many DCIM vendors approach customers with the ability to centralize the information about their data center. With that data the DCIM can display some of the causes of systematic problems or losses of time and energy. Many managers see their own spreadsheets and other tracking tools as already handling these issues so the appeal is lessened. However, it is when a DCIM product can track when equipment is due for maintenance, replacement or other asset management that it surpasses the spreadsheets, as the latter can often miss updates and version control between groups gets out of hand.
Another approach vendors push is energy and thus cost savings. Managers may often wonder how this can happen without also needing to follow up with investing in energy saving measures – an additional cost to the DCIM. A good DCIM tool can generate reports on energy usage and power trends across a power chain as well as helping to find stranded power. The DCIM should also be able to help with power, space and cooling allocations as the data center changes, sometimes dynamicly. And without investing in replacements or additional equipment a manager can adjust the server locations and data center temperatures to best reduce hot spots while running a warmer space by trial and error to reduce cost.
Capacity planning is perhaps the most underrated sellling point of a DCIM product. Managers sometimes step into positions where they don’t fully know the data center. They want to know what they have and if there is unused, stranded, or low performing equipment. The DCIM tool should be able to highlight some of these aspects prior to an audit of the equipment itself, saving the time of scouring the data center to find ways to recapture space. The same approach also goes for power and cooling, as the under used capacity can be regained. And doing this faster and with less resources helps put off the request for a new data center due to only a space, power or cooling factor.
Proving the value of a DCIM product can also be hard to determine. Others in the industry tout 50% or more savings in just power adjustments alone; when peeling back how it was done sometimes reveals that the DCIM tool pointed the way toward the savings based on making changes and investments. Saving a team time to review their assets can be difficult to judge to see the benefits of DCIM reports. The links to savings are often made with power or cooling savings and sometimes those results can be fuzzy when compared to the cost. However, knowing where the data center stands when you walk in or out can be a stress relief well worth the cost; plus many offer remote access capabilities to help with quicker responses.