3 Key Takeaways from our DCIM Webinar: Common Pitfalls to Avoid in a Data Center Move
May 25, 2016

According to a recent survey by 451 Research of data center operators’ priorities, nearly 28% of respondents were focused on data center consolidation, 9.3% on building or buying a new data center, and 8.3% on outsourcing data centers to a third party, such as a colocation facility.

Andrew Donoghue, European Research Manager at 451 Research, shared these insights and other thoughts as he defined data center moves and DCIM trends during the first segment of our webinar on “Common Pitfalls to Avoid in a Data Center Move.” This focus on data center moves reflects organizations’ attempts to replace aging or inefficient data centers with more modern and efficient (in terms of power, energy, and operations) facilities. According to Donoghue, additional evidence for this trend is found in the United States government’s consolidation initiatives and mandated use of DCIM, indicating “a clear move from DCIM being a nice-to-have to a prerequisite for successful DC [data center] management, including migration.”

Donoghue not only shared DCIM research but also moderated the webinar’s guest panel discussion, featuring guests at different points in moving their respective data centers. Greg Rybak, Data Center Analyst at John Wiley and Sons, was in mid-transition with his data center migration project. In contrast, Kiel Anderson, Senior Product Development Lab Manager at F5 Networks, had successfully completed a data center move to a colocation facility.
 
With the diverse perspectives shared during the webinar, attendees gained a unique blend of conceptual knowledge and real-world, practical tips from experts who use DCIM to facilitate their moves. Here are our three key takeaways on how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls during a data center move.
 
1. Planning is paramount for efficient resource management.
Underestimating the complexity of the move in the planning stage was an overarching challenge. For both Rybak and Anderson, DCIM played an integral role in effective planning and utilization of resources.
 
“There’s no data center or server room small enough not to actually start thinking about doing some kind of a DCIM rollout,” said Rybak. “Looking from a business perspective, everyone expects the IT department and facilities to do more with less.”

In Anderson’s experience, it was important to know what his team was spending on operating his lab and to make plans based on accurate data from their DCIM solution. DCIM allows Anderson to hand off tasks to people from multiple organizations while having everyone work within the same interface. “Having a good DCIM tool helps us save time. And time is money,” said Anderson.

Whether you are serving internal or external customers, good planning in conjunction with DCIM can also help you avoid unnecessary downtime and violating SLAs. For both Anderson and Rybak, the ability to run capacity reports allows them to plan for fluctuations in business needs and allocate resources accordingly.

Rybak also believes that avoiding the pitfalls of doing too much and a lack of communication with key players comes down to planning and having the right people involved. “If there are enough people at the table who know what is going on, you don’t need to introduce too much deviation in the planning. DCIM and all of the information it provides minimize those pitfalls.”

2. Keep your asset inventory up to date.
Among our attendees, an out-of-date asset inventory list was by far the biggest pitfall in a data center move that they encountered or expected to encounter. The concern was shared by our guest panelists.

In a dynamic lab environment like the one Anderson works in, it’s difficult to track asset inventory, with gear going in and out of the labs constantly. “It’s important to keep track of what you have, and if you have the time and resources, it’s really important to keep track of your connections as well,” said Anderson.

A DCIM solution for asset management provides an advantage over traditional tools like spreadsheets because it makes it faster and easier to keep your asset inventory up to date and to find and share the relevant information. “With spreadsheets, sometimes information is not being recorded properly or it’s outdated or the spreadsheet itself is missing, and it’s hard to get that information when you need it. With DCIM, it’s right at your fingertips,” said Rybak.

Knowing what you have not only helps with planning the layout of your data center but also can help you address the challenge of inaccurate forecasting for power, space, and resources. With customizable reporting for more accurate power, energy, and capacity forecasting, you can better estimate your power and cooling requirements, “right size” the hardware, and avoid over- or under- cooling.

“We use DCIM to determine our current power, space, and cooling requirements, and also at a new site, you can make more accurate estimates on the power requirements per rack,” said Anderson. This allows his team to buy the correct hardware to support their needs.

3. Consider the importance of remote monitoring during and after the move.
A lack of remote monitoring can hinder progress during the move and keep you from being able to manage change efficiently.

“Our current infrastructure pretty much consists of power strips and ‘unintelligent’ PDUs so we have no view into what’s going on at the energy consumption level in those remote offices, “said Rybak. “We deploy all smart PDUs and inline meters for storage arrays and such devices so that our DCIM software can monitor energy usage and [provide] an environmental view of the data center.”

Remote hand-off service is a colo requirement for Anderson’s team. He noted that DCIM provides the information that colocation contractors need to quickly and accurately make changes: “What they need are clear instructions and rack diagrams where all these devices are going.  We can do an export of our connections, and they know exactly what port everything connects to.”

A secondary benefit of a DCIM solution is faster, better time and cost estimates from contractors. “It just makes it so much easier for them, and it makes it more accurate, and you can make sure it’s done correctly,” said Anderson.

Moving your data center to a new location or colocation can be traumatic for everyone involved, especially data center managers. Comprehensive planning, an up-to-date asset inventory, and having remote monitoring in place can greatly reduce the stress and risks associated with a data center migration and help to make your move a success.
Want to learn more about how to make your data center move a success? Watch the webinar recording here, and then download our eBook on Using DCIM to Help a Data Center Move to a Colocation Facility

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