Webinar Takeaways: Creating a Single Version of the Truth with DCIM Software and CMDB
November 08, 2018

As modern data center environments become increasingly complex and difficult to manage, today’s data center managers often find themselves using multiple systems for different parts of the data center. However, having disparate systems for data center management creates a number of challenges, including data inaccuracy, reduced productivity, and inability to fully access and analyze all data, leading to cross-functional silos. In fact, according to IDC’s Datacenter Capabilities and DX Survey (2018), management systems for each aspect of the data center was among the top challenges facing respondents.

Guest speaker Jennifer Cooke, Research Director, Datacenter Management, IDC, shared these and other insights from IDC during the first segment of our webinar “Enabling a Single Source of Truth with DCIM and CMDB.” Cooke opened the webinar with recent data center management research around the challenges that modern data center managers are facing due to multiple disparate systems. She also highlighted why having a single source of truth for your data center data is important and what data center professionals can do to successfully break down management silos and make better, more data-driven decisions.

Cooke was joined by Kiel Anderson, Manager, Product Development Lab, F5 Networks, and Fred Bathje, Data Center Engineer, Argonne National Laboratories, who shared their thoughts and experiences with the practical applications of Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software integration with CMDBs for more effective change management. Finally, James Cerwinski, Sunbird’s Director of Product Management, demonstrated how Sunbird’s DCIM solution can help to create a single version of truth so organizations can standardize on a few data center software tools, rather than struggling to manage information accurately across multiple systems.

With the diverse perspectives shared during the webinar, attendees gained real-world, practical tips from experts who understand the challenges of disparate data center management systems. Watch the recording here, or read on to view our key takeaways from the webinar.

3 Key Takeaways on How to Create a Single Version of the Truth with DCIM Software and CMDB

1. Asset management data can help with data center maintenance and budgeting.

Today, nearly every organization is learning to leverage their data to support digital transformation initiatives and drive business growth. Being at the heart of their organizations’ ability to store and process data, data centers bear the brunt of these activities, and as a result, data center and IT professionals need to learn to use data collected from their data center assets to adapt to these changes, shift to a more service-oriented approach, and provision capacity at the speed of business.  

In Anderson’s environment, not having to maintain multiple management systems has led to more teams to leverage DCIM information to audit their assets, clarify what each team owns, and to periodically refresh their equipment to ensure that their testers are always on the newest hardware. They also used this data for their annual budgeting. These efforts are particularly important when trying to audit and keep track of assets in a dynamic, constantly changing environment like Anderson’s product development lab.  

“Our central data is accessed by multiple departments in F5, and it does benefit our quarterly and annual budgeting. For each of our teams in the old days, without having a central data system, we had to have Finance contact each of the managers of each of the product development teams, and they’d give us a list of what they had on file,” said Anderson. “They’d give us a spreadsheet and ask us every quarter, and especially every annual budgeting effort, what’s still in service. So it’s really important for the teams to know what’s still in service, but also the financial department has access to that data directly these days, and they can actually pull that data that they need and not have to waste their time and other departments’ time and efforts to pull that data directly from management.”

Armed with real data center asset management data, organizations can make more informed choices about the assets they invest in and the best, least-cost option for housing and provisioning these assets, whether that be on-premises in a traditional enterprise data center, in a colocation data center, in a private/public cloud, or in a hybrid data center environment.

2. A single version of truth doesn’t necessarily mean a single tool.

Organizations are searching for a single version of the truth, and having multiple management systems is a critical challenge for them. But does this mean that the ultimate goal should be a single system for every aspect of data center management?

The answer lies not in having one person or one system to manage a single version of the truth. Instead, a better way forward is for data centers to standardize on a few trustworthy, easy-to-use tools that integrate easily to make data open and accessible to help teams collaborate.

Bathje highlighted the point that there are some systems that it wouldn’t make sense to integrate or open to outside networks due to their security or complexity.

“We may not want one program that holds all of the data, but we need to be able to look at all of the data, analyze it, and understand how it affects other components of data,” said Bathje. “For us, one of the things we wouldn’t want to do is integrate our BMS system into a DCIM system just because of security risks with data systems…but we do need to get that data out of the BMS and understand it and be able to compile it together with our DCIM data and other data…and be able to use that to develop metrics to keep our data centers running.”

That’s where DCIM software can make a difference. The open APIs and user-configurable CMDB connectors as demonstrated by Cerwinski simplify integration, improve the accuracy of data while automating updates between systems, and make it easy to get data in and out of the systems with very little work by the end user. DCIM software’s ability to integrate with multiple different types of systems and to export data for additional analysis in third-party systems also makes it the ideal hub or go-to system for finding all your data center management data in one place.

3. Organizational silos are a major barrier to change.

The lack of a single version of reliable, accurate, and trustworthy data can create organizational management silos that keep cross-functional teams from collaborating effectively and jointing managing their data centers to shared Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

According to IDC’s Smarter Datacenter Facilities MaturityScape Benchmark Survey (2017), 38 percent of enterprise data centers have limited coordination between IT and Facilities organizations and/or siloed management solutions.*

What enables organizations to break down silos? It starts with having trusted, accurate reliable data (and the technology to support it) that teams can use as points of discussion and collaboration.

Bathje and Anderson shared their experiences and thoughts with breaking down organizational barriers.

For Bathje, it’s all part of the job. Although he works mostly on the IT side, a major part of his activities includes bridging the gap between Facilities and IT. He’s succeeded by offering to partner with Facilities, listening to their pain points, and increasing IT’s value to Facilities through collaboration and sharing of data.

“Now that we have a DCIM software, we’re recording temperatures and power in a much more granular way than they were,” said Bathje. “Just having them be able to see that data helps them understand that we know what we’re looking to get, and they can meet those targets...It’s not just guesswork for them because the BMS system they have isn’t nearly as granular as the monitoring we’re doing. Opening that kind of stuff up to them also makes both sides look good and makes our jobs easier.”

In Anderson’s case, having accurate asset management data makes it easier for him to collaborate with other departments. As previously mentioned, providing direct access to this data instead of making Finance go through him for each request provides Finance with the information they need for budgeting, saves time, and ultimately makes everyone’s jobs easier. However, it helps other departments as well.

“We also have other departments that benefit from having a central data system for our assets, including IT and customer support teams,” said Anderson. “We also have our monitoring and management of our power and our cooling in our lab environments, and Facilities can use that and have access to that data as well. It’s really easy to create reports and one of the most important things is being able to forecast our cooling and our power environments through our system as well.”

Bathje’s and Anderson’s experiences reflect a common theme prevalent among Sunbird’s customers. The IT and Facilities teams would often have disputes over data center management topics, but neither group would have the data available to support their respective positions. Once they were able to collect and analyze the data from intelligent PDUs and other devices using their DCIM software, and they could see actual rack power loads and capacities, they were able to work together. At the foundation of this new-found collaboration was alignment on a single version of true data that enabled them to make smarter, more rational decisions based entirely on information, not opinion. DCIM software helps data center managers build trust throughout the organization, improve transparency and the ability to adapt to change, and manage their data center assets in edge facilities, hybrid data centers, and other dynamic environments.

Bringing It All Together

With data centers becoming increasingly distributed, it’s more critical than ever for data center professionals to be able to properly leverage their data to reduce the complexity and break down silos created by multiple data center management systems.

Whether you are just starting to consider CMDB integration or are deeply involved in your organization’s integration strategy, these tips and insights from data center experts can help you maximize your value to your organization. Combine your new knowledge with DCIM software to build a single version of the truth, and you’ll be even better prepared to accurately manage your data center assets in the future.

Want to learn more about how DCIM software can help you make smarter, more informed decisions through integration with CMDB? Watch the webinar here, and then test drive Sunbird’s DCIM software for yourself today.

*Source: IDC MaturityScape Benchmark: Smarter Datacenter Facilities in the United States, 2018, doc #US43540718, February 2018

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