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Choosing the right DCIM system for modern data centres

Choosing the right DCIM system for modern data centres
PHOTO: Schneider Electric

Traditionally used to monitor and manage the plethora of power and cooling systems within advanced data centres, Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools are now par for the course.

Indeed, DCIM systems have arguably made data centres more resilient and energy efficient.

As we build the next generation of data centres, what are some key attributes of modern DCIM platforms that we should be looking out for?

Key attributes of modern DCIM platforms

Though the broad capabilities of DCIM systems can make it challenging to select a suitable system, below are four key attributes that are deemed as crucial as outlined in a Schneider Electric white paper.

1. Use cloud technologies

A DCIM solution hosted in the cloud is easier to roll out as it does away with the need to roll out the entire solution from scratch at every site. Indeed, next-gen DCIM systems are typically deployed as a gateway application a physical appliance or virtual service.

The gateway node communicates autonomously back to the cloud and is scalable to practically unlimited devices and across any number of sites.

In comparison, the old way is clunky and entails rolling out the entire DCIM solution at each location and then individually validating that all components work and are secured.

2. Connects to a data lake to enable insights

A cloud-based architecture allows data to be channelled into a data repository for further analysing. In this age of analytics and AI, machine learning algorithms can work on this data to build machine learning models that can improve efficiency or reliability.

Insights can be gained by comparing similar systems across multiple sites to find problems before they surface, or to otherwise identify areas to improve on.

Predictive analytics can also predict failures in systems such as UPS batteries or ageing components, allowing for early planning for service replacement to minimise the risk of disruption.

3. Simple and intuitive user interface

Modern DCIM tools are easier to use and far more intuitive, whether in terms of configuring or monitoring systems.

This might range from device alarm thresholds that are logical, health scorecards that automatically sort out devices most in need of attention, or performance benchmarking for context against similar installations.

One vital but less obvious feature is the logical grouping of systems around common causes or areas, to prevent "alarm storms" from inundating the console when something goes wrong.

Finally, both the gateway application and device firmware should be updatable remotely, so that bug fixes, features and security vulnerabilities are swiftly rectified.

4. Address cyber security risks

Finally, DCIM systems are ideal for ensuring that cyber security best practices are adhered to. This is due to their direct awareness and management of disparate critical infrastructure, servers, IoT devices, and gateways. It hence makes sense to deploy a DCIM that incorporates the detection and reporting of device vulnerabilities.

Some more advanced DCIM solutions might even come with threat assessment capabilities, such as detecting when devices are accessed via telnet or unencrypted FTP, for instance, to lower cyber security risks.

Learn more about attributes of effective DCIM systems from this Schneider Electric white paper here.

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