What is data centre infrastructure management?

There is no denying that Data Centre Infrastructure Management or DCIM is part and parcel of data centres today.

Deployed within on-premises data centres or colocation facilities to manage IT equipment and supporting infrastructure such as power and cooling, the scope and capabilities of DCIM systems have evolved substantially over time.

However, a proper appreciation of modern DCIM requires that we begin with "traditional" DCIM.

The birth of DCIM

As noted by Gartner back in 2016, DCIM systems are tools that monitor, measure, manage and/or control data centre utilisation and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment within the facility.

This includes power distribution and cooling required to keep the IT systems up and running, including its physical security.

DCIM moves beyond basic device-level monitoring to give facility operators a better understanding of their environments. This goes beyond device status and includes power and cooling.

The objective is to prevent problems from occurring, as well as to serve as an invaluable aid for asset management, capacity planning and the optimal placement of equipment.

Customers faced some challenges with traditional DCIM tools, however. As noted by Kevin Brown, CTO of Schneider Electric, they faced long deployment times and a high degree of complexity during operations and maintenance.

Another common grouse is that many of these traditional DCIM generated too many alerts while offering scant information on the root cause.

The modern DCIM

Next gen DCIM systems are designed to address these issues. They perform the basic functions as traditional DCIMs, but are hosted in the cloud for greater flexibility and to unlock new functionalities.

Delivered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering, these DCIM systems are far easier to deploy, and onboarding becomes a breeze with the help from Customer Success Managers. With new advanced capabilities like security assessment, security patches and firmware updates can be delivered far faster than their on-premises siblings.

Some other capabilities that next gen DCIM systems offer includes:

• Machine learning (ML): Leverage algorithms and statistical modelling to better optimise every facet of data centre operations, including planning, design, and configuration.

• Real-time analytics: Keep a close eye on data to identify systems parameters that stray outside the norm for preventive maintenance.

• Cloud benchmarking: Continuously collect benchmarking data and compare them to expected data from multiple customers. Make recommendations for improvements.

Moving into the future

Hosted in the cloud instead of at on-premises locations, next-gen DCIM unlocks significant new capabilities and alleviates the problems of traditional DCIMs. Capabilities such as remote monitoring and management, managing multiple sites, and tracking equipment across vendors because much easier.

The use of DCIM is not limited to fixing problems as they arise but can serve to proactively reduce downtime.

By analysing the data centre infrastructure and creating simulations, IT managers and administrators can easily identify areas suffering from a lack of redundancy or capacity constraints, and work to resolve this weakness before an outage happens.

Finally, next gen DCIM is a good fit for edge data centres, which are expected to become more pervasive as workloads are moved closer to users and data. With fewer or no IT employees nearby, the ability to monitor edge deployments remotely can offer a substantial boost to efficiency.

You can learn more about DCIM from Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure IT page here.

Article by Gay Chi Sen, Head of Data Center Software Solutions, APJ & EMEA, Schneider Electric