The future of DCIM: Where it is, and where it's heading

The future of DCIM: Where it is, and where it's heading

The future of DCIM may be closer than you think.

Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) has become essential to optimizing data center efficiency, to the extent that the U.S. federal government is now requiring it in federal agency data centers.

Likewise, the private sector is expected to rely more heavily on DCIM in the coming years. According to MarketWatch, the global DCIM market will see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 15 percent through 2020. Some of this growth is likely in response to new markets such as the "data center in a box" trend, which entails servers being installed in shipping containers for mobility. But management at traditional data centers are also seeing returns from DCIM.

Therefore, it's safe to say that DCIM isn't going away any time soon. If anything, it's best years are ahead of it. 

Where DCIM is now: Supplying real-time insight

DCIM is essential to modern data centers for multiple reasons. The current capabilities of a best-of-breed DCIM solution include the following:

  1. Real-time intelligence (power consumption, temperature, security, etc.) in a single pane of glass.
  2. Automatic SNMP, SMS and email alerts in the event of a problem. 
  3. Generation of reports that can be presented to upper management. 
  4. Capacity planning that enables smart business decisions.
  5. Predictive modeling for hypothetical scenarios. 

All of these add up to the ability to have a complete overview of your data center's performance in real time. This capacity to have both a macro and micro understanding of facility health is essential to preventing downtime, cutting back on operational expenses, responding quickly to change and planning for long-term success. At the moment, the best DCIM solutions on the market are enabling businesses to do all of that, and more. 

DCIM already makes it much easier to oversee a data center in real time.DCIM already makes it much easier to oversee a data center in real time.

Where DCIM is heading: The IoT, automation and more

But what will DCIM look like five or 10 years down the road? 

"DCIM has already laid the groundwork for these benefits."

For starters, the rise of the Internet of Things will invariably affect the future of DCIM. In many ways, DCIM is already well-equipped for the inclusion of a greater number of IoT devices in the the data center, thanks to remote monitoring capabilities and web-based access to insight. For example, DCIM can generate a real-time map of environmental conditions within a facility, which can then be accessed remotely by authorized users on any compatible device. In theory, overseeing more IoT units in the data center will function similarly – assuming those devices can integrate with DCIM.

If anything, the biggest challenge for DCIM's development will be integration with the vast number of systems that may be introduced into data centers in the coming years. Granted, this is a hurdle, but it's hardly a new issue, and it's certainly not an insurmountable one. 

Beyond the IoT, the next big data center innovation will be automation. According to industry expert Jeff Klaus in an interview with ITProPortal, automation will be one of the big questions going into 2017. Ideally, businesses will want to automate more redundant tasks, eliminate their reliance on spreadsheets and other legacy forms of record keeping, and hopefully spend less time on manual capacity planning.  

Once again, DCIM has already laid the groundwork for these benefits. At this point, it's really just a matter of fine-tuning this technology so that it accommodates the inclusion of smart data center infrastructure capable of automating specific functions. Granted that's easier said than done, but DCIM can and will do that within the next five years or so.