DCIM: Assessing the benefits and risks

DCIM: Assessing the benefits and risks

The rewards of DCIM undoubtedly outweigh the risks.

It's difficult to imagine how data center managers did their jobs prior to the introduction of reliable data center infrastructure management solutions. Each member of the data center team carries a long list of everyday activities that need to be completed. Load balancing among servers must be well orchestrated to ensure that there are no bottlenecks. Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity must be consistently assessed and maintained. Power management calls for constant monitoring of power distribution units. Regular maintenance of rack-mounted servers and equipment is critical. With so much equipment and so many factors to stay on top of, staying organized is essential. Ensuring that vital data center metrics are funneled into a single interface is one of the main functions of DCIM.

Let's take a closer look at some of the benefits associated with DCIM, and also assess one of the potential risks faced by data center management.

Proactively monitor and manage

In order to successfully maintain the many moving parts of a data center, management must constantly monitor, aggregate and manage the aforementioned metrics. For example, power must be well-distributed among the servers and other equipment in a facility.

Herein lies the first benefit of DCIM: the ability to proactively monitor and manage equipment in the data center and in the surrounding facility. For one thing, DCIM can provide side-by-side comparisons that help data center managers easily determine what certain equipment can handle. Furthermore, it can help data center personnel understand power levels, allowing for configuration adjustments as needed - and also alert management to a sudden change occurrence.

Giving greater meaning to metrics and analytics

Data center managers have to navigate a maze of metrics to ensure that everything is properly maintained. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has stringent guidelines for what is considered proper maintenance when it comes to temperature, humidity and dew point. Too much humidity in the air, for example, can corrode equipment. Not enough humidity can result in static electricity that damages sensitive electronics.

Likewise, any equipment in use at a data center - including cooling components - must be operated at certain power levels to ensure optimal energy efficiency, and to make equipment last as long as possible, both of which can cut down on operating expenses.

In order to achieve this, many data center managers use climate and power monitoring that relies on sensors to collect environmental and electrical usage information. These metrics are aggregated and organized within the framework of a DCIM solution, which not only allows data center management to derive actionable insight from an ocean of information, but also makes it easier to plan for future growth. Scalability is a hugely important component of DCIM. Thus, data center management must be able compile reports for analytic purposes, which are the equivalent of business intelligence.  

A potential risk: Poor integration capabilities

DCIM mitigates many of the power and climate-related hazards within a data center facility. By and large, it is extraordinarily beneficial. Nevertheless, there are a few potential pitfalls that data center managers must be wary of. One of them is poor integration with other systems in the facility. In order for DCIM to function, it must integrate with all the hardware and software that is needed to keep everything in the facility up and running. According to Data Center Knowledge contributor Deepak Singh, integration with other applications and tools can be a complicated process, and one that may even cause tension with clients over what API to use.

Enter the RESTful API included in Geist's Environet solution. With Geist's RESTful API, the process of sharing data among software systems is simplified, which makes the jobs of IT and facility staff easier. Users can also leverage an OBiX API option, and between the two, information sharing is seamless. Proper deployment of DCIM hinges upon the solution's ability to play nice with everything else in the facility, and this is what the RESTful API helps to achieve. 

Therefore, with the right solution, the risk of poor integration is hardly a risk at all. It's safe to say that when it comes to DCIM, the benefits significantly outweigh the risks.