What are Some Essential Features that DCIM Should Offer?
September 05, 2019

Curious about Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) but not sure where to start? You’re not alone.

In a recent article on Data Center Frontier, we explored the reasons why DCIM can be such a confusing and daunting market to understand to prospective buyers. In a nutshell, when DCIM arrived in the late 2000s, organizational silos were typical between Facilities and IT Managers. Industry analysts were quick to hype DCIM, but each presented a different definition with their own spin for what DCIM was, how it bridged silos, and how it compared to existing data center management tools such as Building Management Systems (BMS) and IT Service Management (ITSM). The lack of a single definition of DCIM led to each professional role within the data center having a different understanding of DCIM based on their existing tools, job responsibilities, and KPIs.

The problem was magnified when vendors took advantage of the situation and inaccurately marketed themselves as DCIM providers, muddying the waters for early adopters. These vendors could not deliver what they promised. They were incomplete solutions lacking a depth of functionality, difficult to use, and slow to deploy. They were not useful in real-world environments, lacked scalability, and had modular platforms that caused additional purchasing pain and deployment challenges.

Fortunately, second-generation DCIM tools have emerged from legacy counterparts in recent years, with enhanced capabilities such as zero-configuration analytic, automation via integration, ease of use, and super-fast deployments to address the pain points of data center managers and help them make smarter operational decisions. Still, however, the history of DCIM has left a cloudy picture of what DCIM is and what the essential features are compared to other data center management tools.

If you are comparing DCIM vendors, the following is a list of features that are essential to a comprehensive DCIM solution. If a vendor cannot provide each of these capabilities, that raises a red flag that they are a niche product rather than a complete solution.

  • Live readings of sensor data. Data collection and monitoring with thresholds and alerts that can accommodate tens of thousands of nodes across multiple data centers such as intelligent rack PDUs, floor PDUs, RPPs, busways, UPSs, CRACs, and environmental sensors.
  • Complete asset inventory information. Complete critical infrastructure inventory information from racks, servers, storage, network equipment including network connectivity, power chain, and applications.
  • Multiple ways to visualize and report on data. Ability to visualize data center asset information easily and quickly. Information can be provided in dashboards, trend charts, reports, floor layout plans, and rack elevations.
  • Change and workflow management. Processes and relationship mapping to create workflows, quickly and easily understand the capacity at every point in the power chain, see the relationships between devices, and know the impact of changes.
  • Power and data circuit management. Ability to track all physical connectivity across the entire power chain and cable/data network, intelligently search for port capacity, and automatically validate connectivity prior to provisioning equipment.
  • Comprehensive equipment template library. A complete models library that is continually updated and provided, and easily editable by customers.
  • Open and compatible for easy integration. Fully documented and published API with out of the box connectors and plug-ins to support third-party systems like those from VMware, BMC, and ServiceNow as well as third-party facility equipment.

These are the essential features, but you should also consider the capabilities of second-generation DCIM when comparing vendors. Second-generation DCIM is the class of modern, elegant software that emerged from legacy products. With enhanced versions of first-generation monitoring and operations features and deeper functionality and usability enhancements, second-generation DCIM users report high satisfaction rates and high return-investments.

If you are in the market for fast, easy, and complete DCIM, look for the following features in a vendor to ensure they offer a second-generation solution:

  • Zero-configuration analytics. Without any tedious configuration effort, automatically get pre-built dashboards, reports, and interactive visual analytics similar to what you’d find from commercial Business Intelligence tools.
  • Data sharing and collaboration. Breaks down silos created by traditional practices that separate power, network, facilities, and other teams by introducing shared dashboards and team views that encourage information sharing and collaboration.
  • Automation through integration. Saves time and simplifies data sharing by eliminating multiple manual data entry. Out-of-the-box ITSM connectors share data across disparate databases through automatic integration.
  • Multi-vendor compatibility. Manage all third-party equipment with standards-based plug-ins and without being locked into specific vendors.
  • Super-fast deployments. Deployment takes half the time of first-generation tools, with significantly fewer resources and effort, and users see benefits immediately.
  • Scalability. Enterprise-class scalability that scales to handle millions of assets and sensors polling billions of data points daily without needing additional software licenses and server instances.
  • Completeness of capabilities. Takes care of all the aspects of data center management such as asset, capacity, change, energy, power, environment, security, connectivity, visualization, and business intelligence and analytics.

Want to try Sunbird’s industry-leading second-generation DCIM solution for free? Take a test drive today.

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