Maurice (Moe) Donegan is a director of product management for the Avocent business of Emerson Network Power. He has a broad background in business-driven IT solution and IT strategy, is ITIL v3 Foundation certified and co-authored a patent in unified service models.
In the last several years, the IT-Facilities relationship has redefined existing assumptions to address rapidly changing business requirements. Just as IT has risen to the challenge of aligned business services that are standardized, measured, flexible and responsive, now Facilities must provide IT with the on-demand resources (space, power and HVAC) that enable those dynamic business services.
With the increased interdependency between IT and facilities, it is critical to share the historical and real-time triggers to dynamic change in resource consumption. To an extent, facilities can anticipate some of IT resource needs from a baseline capacity plan; however, the dynamic nature of data center response to business demand can only be seen in real-time.
Data Center Infrastructure Management Assists Integration
The best way to achieve productive integration of IT and facilities infrastructures is through effective Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM). Detailed monitoring and measurement of data center performance, utilization and energy consumption is crucial in order for data center managers to make accurate judgments and ensure proper planning.
At Emerson Network Power we use a four-step method to ensure a mature, thorough approach to data center management. First, managers must have the ability to monitor assets and access all the necessary information to make planning decisions. Second, real-time notifications, proper server back-up and actual performance data allow managers to have a solid understanding of their data center assets, and their location. Third, the ability to efficiently decommission and identify the connections between space, power and cooling, allows managers to analyze and diagnose data center problems. From here, managers can move to the final step of effective DCIM and anticipate potential failures and automatically shift loads to reduce downtime, further optimizing data center efficiency.
Before data center managers can properly prepare for a DCIM solution, they must first establish a daily working relationship and a forward-thinking plan with the facility managers. Historically, the contact between these two teams has been contained to infrequent meetings on long-term requirements and planning. Often, data center managers would come up with a core plan that facility managers would then use as a worst case scenario for contracting with utilities, building management and HVAC vendors.
A major issue is that neither manager is aware of the daily pressures that impact one another, namely the daily fluctuation in resource costs and contracts for the facilities manager, and the Service Level Agreements (SLA) that IT must meet in servicing business needs. Establishing a tighter relationship allows facility management to understand the granular details of capacity planning and assist in identifying the hot and cold spots of resource utilization within the data center. Further, an improved relationship allows data center managers to be aware of the cost of resources so they can make better choices around asset selection, the timing of lower priority and off-line tasks. By gaining better appreciation of these interdependent impacts and the respective organizational mission, the case for a DCIM solution will be apparent.
As DCIM continues to emerge, our customers have expressed a wide range of DCIM-driven initiatives. For example, improving IT and facility responsiveness to business driven needs includes flexible provisioning of facility resources ahead of peak IT demand. This would include capacity planning, run-time monitoring and management, load balancing, IT process redistribution and resource optimization. For each of these activities, DCIM plays an important role in enabling IT to meet the dynamic mission with the right resource load in a timely manner.
Multiple DCIM-driven Projects
Other DCIM driven initiatives include merger/acquisition restructuring and corporate sustainability commitments. When businesses merge, IT organizations often find themselves in possession of interim infrastructure. Having a DCIM strategy in place can deliver many of the same benefits found in process optimization while helping to make management decisions about the effectiveness of on-going operations in the newly adopted infrastructure.
Corporate sustainability commitments continue to be a growing focus for business. The resources required to run a data center are a significant contributor to the production of greenhouse gases and, in some geographies, a major element in environmental compliance reporting. Implementation of an effective DCIM solution can provide the basis of metrics on resource consumption and its change over time. This enables the organization to have a single system of record for source measurement of resources, thereby accelerating the ability to collect data for compliance reporting.
DCIM will continue to be vital to the evolution of the data center over the next several years. Now, more than ever before, is the time for companies to prepare for this comprehensive approach to data center infrastructure management.
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