Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software manages the data centers that run the software-driven economy. With users – both employees and customers – increasingly engaging with company apps and websites via mobile devices, managing data center capacity and efficiency has become strategic.
IT teams face conflicting challenges. On one hand, they try to avoid application rollout delays, service disruptions and unplanned spending related to space, power or cooling resources. On the other hand, even as data growth continues unabated, they are under increasing pressure to reduce operating expenses, improve energy efficiency and optimize capacity – all while maintaining network uptime and application availability and reliability.
These conflicting demands have left data center space underutilized and overprovisioned with power and cooling capacity. These are the most common causes of data center inefficiency.
DCIM software provides monitoring, management and intelligent capacity planning of a data center’s critical systems. It integrates specialized software, hardware and sensor data into a unified platform that monitors and manages all interdependent systems across IT and facility infrastructures in real time to enable effective capacity planning. Optimized resource utilization lets data center and facilities teams collaborate to better manage operating costs and mitigate the cyclical nature of data center construction and management.
The move toward greater density in data centers, combined with a trend to analyze performance per kilowatt, is leading to energy management as a new type of discipline, even for “moderately energy-intensive organizations” by 2017. To reduce energy usage and increase energy efficiency, DCIM enables data center managers to measure energy use, enabling safe operation at higher densities.
DCIM software lets data center managers establish benchmarks for power consumption through real-time feeds and equipment ratings. Servers can be placed to optimize power, cooling and space requirements. Data center managers can then model the effects of "green" initiatives on the data center's power usage efficiency (PUE) and data center infrastructure efficiency before committing resources to an implementation.
The energy savings that companies realize can reduce a data center's total operating expenses by up to 20%. That’s what a major healthcare services firm achieved within a five year period. The firm set out to improve efficiency and utilization rates in order to ensure adherence with GRC (governance, regulatory, compliance) requirements more efficiently cost effectively. When it began the process, the firm had 28 data centers. Power was the single largest operating expense in its facilities.
The data center team installed a DCIM platform, and used the built-in analytics capabilities to study historical power and cooling consumption trends. The team then used this data to improve the accuracy of their models for future consumption.
The results were compelling. The team was able to cut the number of facilities by 50% over the five-year period. DCIM software, coupled with server virtualization led to increased server utilization – from 10% to 80%. Better energy models resulted in savings of over 24,000 megatwatt hours of electricity per year. Overall, the company realized an estimated $90 million in energy costs savings.
And despite its smaller footprint, application and service delivery and user experience metrics improved at the same time. The platform integrated with IT performance management tools for infrastructure, applications and transactions to help IT teams balance availability and reliability with cost efficiencies.
Strong Market Drivers
The principle trends driving DCIM software adoption include:
DCIM tools are for more than simply new data center builds or expansion of existing facilities. Legacy data centers can be retrofitted with monitoring solutions without disrupting operations, enabling better insight into infrastructure performance and utilization rates.
As the application delivery chain becomes increasingly complex, the need for data center efficiency makes DCIM software a must-have technology. It allows companies to continue to reduce capex by shrinking the number of facilities needed to run the business, while reducing the cost of future data center construction. Opex benefits include better utilization of data center and IT resources, reduced energy consumption and lower costs to manage both existing and future facilities. DCIM software allows companies to better manage growth and change in accordance with business needs.