Gary Bunyan is Global DCIM Solutions Specialist at iTRACS Corporation, a Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) company. This is the second in a series of columns by Gary about “the user experience”. See Gary’s previous column on DCIM User Experience.
The era of “big data” is upon us. Gartner expects an 800% growth in the creation and sharing of digital data over the next five years. Just look at the electronics you carry with you daily – smart phones, laptops, tablets, etc. Each of us receives and shares information by the second. Our interactions are increasingly embedded in the digital world and it’s only going to accelerate.
Sharing, Distributing Mission Critical Information
One area of explosive growth is social networking, where information is instantly shared (socialized) across vast numbers of participants. What’s great about social networks is that everyone gets the same information at the same time.
Where else do you see this highly efficient level of information sharing? You can leverage data about your data center when you’re using DCIM tools to manage your physical infrastructure.
I’m not saying these tools offer the same experience as a social network. But in many respects, they accomplish the same thing. DCIM with Interactive 3-D Visualization spreads or socializes information to everyone, instantly and efficiently, eliminating the walls – or silos – between people, efficiently opening up new paths of communication.
Tearing Down the Silos Between IT, Facilities and Building Management Systems
DCIM tools can be used to tear down the walls – or silos – between IT, Facilities, building management systems, operations and business units. They socialize and democratize information across organizations, roles, responsibilities and skill sets in a way that creates unparalleled collaboration. Comprehensive, holistic information about the entire physical ecosystem is made available to all data center constituents. And this isn’t just information – it’s information that everyone can instantly understand and act upon.
How It Works
First, it provides unparalleled insight into data center interconnectivity.
The data center is one of the most complex entities on earth, supporting tens of thousands – if not millions – of devices in an intricate web of interconnectivity. When one uses DCIM tools properly, one is uniquely positioned to understand these interdependencies and create a robust environment for managing and optimizing them. A rich DCIM toolset empowers you to proactively manage moves, adds and changes based on knowledge, not guesswork, about how changing one asset changes the entire landscape. You can use “what if” scenarios to see and plan for the impact of change before it occurs. You can reduce energy, cooling, and space costs based on valid information that tells you how to do more with less. And you can automate entire workflows like intelligent commissioning and intelligent capacity planning, accelerating time-to-value across the entire physical infrastructure.
Secondly, it socializes this information and functionality to multiple roles and skill sets across the enterprise.
Unlike other data, DCIM with Interactive 3-D Visualization provides a dynamic 3-D environment that puts information in context, visually, making it instantly meaningful and actionable to everyone. After all, if you can’t quickly understand and use it, what good is it? The system validates the axiom: “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” It’s a great way to socialize content, especially content about complex interconnectivity. Everyone works in the same easy-to-use single-pane view of the ecosystem. Everyone has access (albeit with varying degrees) to the same rich repository of data about assets, power, space, time, connectivity and process.
Scenario: A Power Distribution Unit (PDU) Supporting 100 Mission-Critical Servers Goes Down
Let me walk you through a usual scenario. Let’s say a PDU goes down. Here’s how it becomes both a visual and a socialized experience:
3:07 p.m. You and your colleagues get an alert telling you that a PDU just went down. You instantly locate the PDU visually and confirm it’s due to mechanical failure. You execute a Failure Simulation to find out which assets are impacted by the loss of the PDU – a “trace” that gives you a complete visual picture of the PDU and its network of interdependences. You see within seconds:
- All servers and assets affected by the PDU failure
- Applications these devices are running – virtual, database, etc.
- Line of business(es) they support
- Who else needs to be contacted about the event
- Exact steps needed to resolve the incident before it affects the business
3:09 p.m. You update the entire team, sharing complete visual information about the event. And you send out a tech team to begin repairing and/or replacing the PDU. Everyone has the same information about the incident and what to do about it. Since Interactive 3-D Visualization shows the repair team exactly where the PDU is, they are quickly dispatched armed with detailed graphics and operational data. No guesswork about where the unit or what it’s connected to. It’s all right there in 3-D.
3:10 p.m. You contact the server owners and assure them a team is already on location and in repair mode – in less than 5 minutes from the beginning of the event. You’ve just broadened the social network to include the business owners.
4:05 p.m. The crisis is over – power has been restored with no disruption to the business.
In a normal disaster recovery scenario, this event might require hours of recovery time. Here, it took about an hour, thanks to the speed and efficacy of the DCIM social network:
- Identified the source, location, and nature of the problem
- Identified every server and application affected
- Shared complete visual information across the DCIM social network – technical teams, owners and management
- Leveraged DCIM to quickly resolve the incident before it became a problem
Information Is Nice, but It’s What You DO With It that Counts
DCIM puts control of the entire data center ecosystem at your fingertips. And it goes one step further than anything any social network can do. Tools that include 3-D visuals helps users "see" the information in context, creating a level of meaning that is unachievable through spreadsheets or static imagery. Rather than being mystified by interconnectivity, users are able to see, understand and manage it.
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