With more than 70 vendors in the space, the Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) marketplace is moving ahead, and some might say there is more clarity about DCIM's benefits.
“We’re past the frenzied hype part, and people are looking at DCIM in a much more sober, pragmatic fashion,” said Sev Onyshkevych, Chief Marketing Officer at Fieldview Solutions. The DCIM vendor had a banner year in 2013, and is very optimistic about both its prospects and the state of the DCIM industry overall. Fieldview’s DCIM product is now used in six continents, monitoring a total of 2.5 gigawatts of data center space. The company launched version 6.0 last year with an focus on integration.
The initial confusion surrounding DCIM sprang from a lack of clarity of definitions, as well as what DCIM as a whole could provide an organization and which DCIM providers did what. The issue stemmed from messaging that DCIM could fix everything, with some vendors claiming to be the "be-all and end-all." It led to customers being unclear about what benefits DCIM could realistically provide, and what providers could realistically deliver.
Those days are over, according to Onyshkevych. “As an industry matures and the players mature, you want to rule the universe, you’re chasing revenues,” said Onyshkevych. “Now it’s an increase in core competency.”
Core Areas of DCIM
DCIM specialists are firmly placing their stake in the ground in one of five core areas. “Pure plays are attenuating, related to probably a better understanding of the segmentation of DCIM," said Onyshkevych. "It used to mean anything that anyone wanted it to mean, so there was lots of confusion in the market. Now it’s pretty clear that the basic part of DCIM is about five things: monitoring, IT asset management, thermal/dynamic control of temperatures, cable management, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation. Within those areas, the leaders are pretty much crystallizing.” Fieldview has staked its position in monitoring.
Vendors are now focusing on their core competency and often addressing other important areas of DCIM through integrations. In some cases, companies that were once competitors are now playing nice with one another, and the leaders within the categories of DCIM are emerging. Nlyte is strong in asset management, CFD is dominated by Future Facilities, Vigilent is strong in dynamic cooling and iTRACS is strong in cable management. Vendors are being clear about where their strengths lie, and customers are beginning to understand who does what. While each vendor tends to offer complimentary capabilities across all areas of DCIM, they are becoming much more open to integrating for "best of breed" solutions.
“The difference is that at one time, many of these vendors tried to be everything to everybody,” said Onyshkevych. “They’d say 'you just need us' – now they’re increasingly focused on being the best in one core area and integrating with the complimentary pieces. We have a few cases where we’re working with one of the companies strong in the asset management space, where the customer has asked us to interface the two products together. We’re seeing this more often. The alternative to a 'Swiss Army knife' is integrating best of breed. That’s one reason for our 6.0 release, a major part of that deliverable was the ability to integrate historical and real-time data.”
Out Come the APIs
A major focus has been on improving the Application Programming Interface (API) in order to integrate with best of breed providers in various areas. “We have an API that tells you where to look for temperature data, if you want capacity planning and historical data, we tell you where to look," Onyshkevych said. "For us, the number of requests has increased to the point where we’re not doing customer interface, but investing in an API to becoming plug and play. A lot of the players are approaching in a similar way."
Success in the Multi-Tenant Data Center Space
Colocation providers are a big area of focus for the DCIM industry, as the multi-tenant data center industry is growing at a quicker clip than enterprise data centers. More businesses are looking to colocation, and more colo facilities are being built. For this reason, DCIM providers are looking to multi-tenant data centers as a big opportunity going forward.
“We were the first to identify them as a market and to start developing the features to address that space,” said Onyshkevych. “Our first colo customer was 2009, so we’ve had colo functionality for a while. The 6.0 release gives us a lot more colo capabilities. We’ve had over a dozen large colo companies as customers, it means they’ve put us through the ringer.” CoreSite and ByteGryd are public examples. “Functionality we already had is being developed more thoroughly to address the colo market,” said Onyshkevych.
Colocation facilities are a different beast. “It’s a many-to-many relationship, and tenants often aren’t at just one location," Onyshkevych said. "The tenants may have data centers that are not part of just one provider, or rented from other colos. There’s weird relationships where the colo facilities primarily focus for the facilities, and tenants responsible for IT assets. Being a monitoring tool, the fit for FieldView is strong. We handle the colo needs. The tenants need to understand the temperature and power chain in many cases, but what they need is asset management. So colo operators are a much closer fit."
While colocation is not the biggest percentage of FieldView’s market share, it’s a growing percentage. “It’s growing faster than finance, but the banking segment isn’t growing rapidly," Onyshkevych said. "Those companies are moving to colo. Colo is where most of the growth is, in the US. They tend to be bigger on average, and bigger is a good fit for Fieldview. Our sweet spot is 10MW and up. The colo and cloud facilities tend to be a higher order of magnitude. The two largest cloud providers in the world are our customers. Our growth is because we’re positioned well with colos.”
Onyshkevytch mentions a famous Wayne Gretzky quote, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” He believes the puck is going to megascale cloud and colo facilities.
Looking to 2014: Steady as She Goes
“We’ve always focused on the monitoring,” said Onyshkevych. “We’re seeing that. It used to be that every couple of weeks there’s some new entrant. Nobody’s coming in anymore saying we raised $50m from VC.”
“Fieldview will continue to focus on the large data centers, colos, and continuing our international growth, especially in Asia,” said Onyshkevych. “There are a lot more greenfield builds internationally, which presents a great opportunity for us. Our Strengths are in colo, banking and finance, technology.”
The company expanded its sales, operations and development teams in 2013, as well as grew its network of global channel partners to nineteen organizations. The company has reseller programs through six continents as well as new partnerships with IBM, CoreSite Realty Corp and Compass Datacenters. So far, 12 of the top 25 real estate/Multi-Tenant Data Center (MTDC) providers, six of the top 10 banks and three of the top five IT/Internet firms – currently use FieldView’s DCIM solution.