Whether you’re implementing Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software, migrating to a new data center, or integrating with a third-party CMDB system, changes to your established data center management software and processes are stressful efforts that require the careful coordination of multiple moving parts. With the high potential for risk, it’s easy to see how your project could get behind schedule, exceed budget, or fail altogether.
Regardless of the size of your project, smart planning often can mitigate risks and lead to a better outcome. Here are four steps that will help you get on the path to a successful data center management project.
1. Appoint a Project Manager.
In a perfect world, your IT, facilities, data center, network, and other teams would work and communicate with each other in harmony. Every timeline would be met, and unexpected issues would never threaten to derail your data center management project. Unfortunately, the reality isn’t so clear cut.
That’s where a project manager comes in. Your project manager is responsible for facilitating communications across all stakeholders and making sure that your data center management project is on track both time- and budget-wise. This team member is also tasked with ensuring that roles and responsibilities are defined and that different teams are held accountable for their deliverables.
When choosing a manager for your data center management project, look for someone who works well across teams and is well-versed in the specifics of your data center.
2. Be Clear on Your Current Processes and Desired Outcomes.
All too often, organizations focus on where they want to be with their data center management, without careful consideration of the data center infrastructure headaches they have now and how they arrived there. Processes are one of the biggest causes of data center outages, so it’s important to determine what works and what doesn’t. Next, clearly define your desired outcomes and determine what you need to achieve them. In some cases, the change requires process improvements. In others, you may need to fill the gap with better utilization of people, hardware, or data and analytics from your data center software.
For example, if you have intelligent rack PDUs or other smart devices but aren’t collecting data from them, you can dramatically improve your data center monitoring simply by setting them up to be polled at user-configurable intervals and storing your data. Once this data has been collected in your data center monitoring software, you can analyze the data and explore insights to help you reach your goals.
Additionally, consider the state of your asset inventory. If your data center asset management up to this point has been less than stellar, it may be worth your time to dedicate resources to improve the collection and quality of your data before importing it into your data center management software.
3. Start Small and Expand over Time.
Doing too much too soon, in combination with scope creep, can rapidly expand a data center management project beyond what is reasonable or feasible based on your resources and timelines. (Here, your project manager can be instrumental in differentiating the “nice-to-haves” from the “good-to-haves.”)
To avoid diluting your focus and decreasing your chance of success, identify and prioritize the problems you are trying to solve with this project, and most important, stick to only the top one or two issues. Once you have addressed these challenges, you can move on to your other items and achieve more “small wins.”
How should you prioritize the data center management problems you’re trying to solve? The criteria you use will vary by organization, but you’re not likely to be wrong if you focus on the challenges that are hindering business-critical objectives or processes.
4. Learn from Others’ Failures (and Successes)
Although DCIM software is still fairly new, organizations have been deploying Proofs-of-Concepts and trying out data center management tools in their own data centers for some time now. After all, knowing at what point you’ll see ROI on your project is important to getting it approved. Learning from others’ mistakes seems like a straightforward technique, but it’s just as important to see if what they did well will work for you.
This is where hiring DCIM experts can pay dividends. Instead of struggling over the best ways to map variances in database schemas so you can migrate data from your legacy system to your new DCIM software yourself, consider having an expert do it for you. A team of experts is likely to have handled these and other common issues before, and they can do it faster and more efficiently than you could yourself—leaving you free to tackle other tasks that demand your attention.
Any data center management project can be a complicated process. Appointing a project lead and planning based on your end goals can help you mitigate risks and ease the stress on yourself and your teammates. Follow the steps outlined above to increase your chances of success and get more out of your data center management improvements from day one.
Want more proven tips on ensuring the long-term success of your DCIM project? Check out our eBook: 10 Key Considerations for a Successful DCIM Project.