K.G. Anand is director, Global Solutions and Product Marketing, Avocent Products and Services, Emerson Network Power. He leads these efforts globally for the company’s data center hardware, software and services offerings.
The term data center infrastructure management (DCIM) has been a buzzword in the data center industry for a couple of years, but a lack of information regarding the barriers to DCIM adoption and implementation among organizations has made many hesitant to purchase and deploy a DCIM solution. One of the primary reasons is the inability of IT and facilities management to prove the value of the tool to their executive management. Go to any trade show and you will see a number of DCIM products and a like number of claims promising efficiency and manageability. But how do you know if the solution will improve your bottom line and meet your needs?
What’s needed is a tool to help develop specific estimates for justifying an investment in DCIM. Emerson Network Power has created such a tool, but these calculators have no significance unless we can agree on what to value in a DCIM solution.
To that end, Forrester Consulting came up with a calculation: The Total Economic Impact (TEI). The framework helps identify the fundamental elements of TEI, including costs, benefits to the entire organization, flexibility and risk factors that affect the investment decision. It’s also numbers-driven and highly specific to each user’s environment since the tool measures benefits by specific DCIM categories, enabling data center managers to understand where they receive the most value. This framework is a bottom-line approach to something that’s been honored more in theory than in practice. The factors include:
- Configuration management
- Capacity management
- Process management
- Alarm and monitoring
- Integration management
- Remote management
The ROI analysis has already been tested and proven successful. Forrester determined that by using Emerson’s ROI tool and implementing a DCIM solution, a major global bank with 160 racks across three data centers would be able to realize more than $1.6 million dollars in specific benefits over a three-year period.
The bank cited the following benefits in determining their positive DCIM ROI:
- Increased system availability. A main bank goal in implementing DCIM was to increase system availability for critical systems. The bank estimates that the DCIM solution has contributed to increased availability of up to 20 hours and a contribution of more than $1.2 million in value over three years.
- Improved productivity with remote management. The bank is now able to save more than five hours per day by accessing its three data centers using remote access, saving almost $39,000 a year and allowing it to build out a new data center while saving time and expenses of nearly $95,000.
- Better capacity management and planning. The company was able to save 45 minutes a day or $11,000 per year in productivity, in managing data center layout and planning for multiple requests that occur each day. This resulted in the bank being able to identify 19 servers that it could virtualize and save on power and maintenance costs. The bank was also able to reduce power consumption and cut related energy costs by $10,600 annually.
- Improved team communication. The data center staff is now making more intelligent and faster decisions which result in reduced meeting time, better coordination and streamlining of processes.
- Reduced server EMAC-related costs. The bank saved $50,000 yearly by being able to quickly and efficiently handle equipment move/add/change requests.
In addition to the above five benefits, the bank attributed a delay in constructing a new data center to their DCIM solution and its better management of its existing data centers.
A Wholistic View is Needed
At the center of today’s business, the data center is under intense pressure to deliver 24/7. Dissimilar internal teams, management tools and performance metrics are all adding to this operational challenge. Without a holistic view of power consumption, asset utilization and service levels, data center managers and their departments are struggling to deliver the availability, capacity and efficiency that their businesses demand.
DCIM solutions enable organizations to provide a more interconnected and practical approach to managing their data centers. Now that data center managers have the ability to measure the value of their chosen DCIM tool, they can more effectively safeguard availability, capitalize on resource utilization and achieve improved sustainability. With data center performance increasingly related to business success, these significant enhancements will all help to deliver competitive advantages, while ensuring a positive return on a long-term DCIM investment.
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