Recently, enterprise software giant CA Technologies, which used to be considered one of the leaders in the data center infrastructure management (DCIM) market, stopped offering its stand-alone DCIM product, called CA DCIM.
Its explanation was that DCIM didn’t fit in the broader strategy of providing horizontal end-to-end enterprise infrastructure management solutions. The company decided to fold the basic data center power and cooling monitoring capabilities into its end-to-end management platform, while doing away with the stand-alone DCIM suite, which also included asset management and visualization tools.
But that’s only part of the story. According to market analysts, who thought axing stand-alone DCIM was a good move for CA, the product also wasn’t making money. While CA was considered a market leader – because of its vision for DCIM – the vision never translated into a lot of sales, save for several big contracts, including with Facebook and the NTT-owned data center provider RagingWire.
“In terms of revenue they were never a leader,” Rhonda Ascierto, research director for data center technologies at 451 Research, said about CA DCIM in an interview. “They were never in the top five.”
Gartner named CA a leader in its Magic Quadrant for DCIM in 2014, but these reports rank vendors in terms of completeness of vision and ability to execute, not in terms of revenue.
IDC included CA in the category of “major players” on its latest MarketScape report for DCIM, which named Schneider Electric, Emerson Network Power, and Nlyte leaders. IDC also ranks vendors based on strategies and capabilities rather than revenue.
CA isn’t the only vendor with a leading solution that wasn’t able to make enough money in the market. The field has become increasingly competitive, and all vendors have faced pressure to lower prices. A lot of that pressure comes from newer entrants, such as Device42 and Cormant, who provide fewer capabilities but at much lower price points.
“All of the DCIM providers have struggled with profits in this area,” Jennifer Koppy, data center trends and strategies research director at IDC, said. While “some experience a lot higher growth than others, there’s been a lot of discounting,” she said. “It really hasn’t been easy for anyone.”
According to IDC, Emerson has the largest market share in DCIM software today, while Schneider has the second largest.
A Market “Reset”
The market today is going through a “reset” of sorts, according to Koppy. Customers understand DCIM capabilities and value better, but many are still reluctant to buy it because it remains costly, in most cases, and requires a fairly involved deployment process, including a substantial professional services engagement.
“It’s something that’s necessary – people understand it – but I think that the monetary commitment has not been there to date,” Koppy said.
While the DCIM software market is growing, it’s not a huge market, and vendors have a more realistic view of the opportunity today than they did several years ago, when DCIM hype was ramping up. DCIM is valuable, but it isn’t the “killer app” that many originally expected it to become, Koppy said.
According to IDC, the market will reach $576 million in revenue this year – up from $475 million in 2014 -- and hit close to $1 billion by 2019.
CA Lacked Facilities Background
Given the way CA’s DCIM software suite was put together, getting rid of it isn’t a big change. The company has kept ecoMeter, the monitoring capabilities it had before it introduced the DCIM suite. The part it’s getting rid of, the asset-management capabilities, was a white-labeled product by Optimum Path, Ascierto pointed out.
Gartner considers Optimum Path a niche DCIM player, while IDC doesn’t consider it one of the top vendors in the space.
From its start in the DCIM software market about three years ago, CA was in a unique position as the only large enterprise software maker in the space. However, that aspect ultimately became a weakness, in Ascierto’s opinion, since its competitors, companies like Emerson and Schneider, had extensive knowledge of data center facilities infrastructure, which CA did not.
The company made some good partnerships to address that problem, such as the one with Eaton, another major facilities infrastructure vendor, but it turned out not to be enough. “Without that facilities background, it was always going to be tough for CA technologies, even with the right partners,” Ascierto said.
Over the last three years things got increasingly competitive, and discounting was rampant, and CA quietly stopped selling its stand-alone DCIM suite. The company said it would continue supporting existing DCIM customers, including software updates and capacity expansion. It will refer new customers, however, to other DCIM vendors.
Doubling Down on IT a Wise Move
Both Ascierto and Koppy said CA’s pivot away from a focus on DCIM and toward a more horizontal IT management solution was a wise move. DCIM started as a product category aimed at data center facilities managers, but ultimately saw more uptake on the IT side, and CA’s strength in the IT management market is undeniable.
Its infrastructure management products are aimed at IT, and, by keeping ecoMeter, the company is providing a comprehensive IT management solution with visibility into data center power and cooling, which is something many IT shops will find useful, Ascierto said.
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