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Schneider Seeks to Bring Definition to DCIM Market

Is data center infrastructure management (DCIM) beginning to mean too many different things to different people? Schneider Electric is emphasizing the comprehensive nature of the latest release of its StruxureWare software for managing data center operations.

A screen shot from the new version of Schneider Electric's StruxureWare data center operations management software.

Is data center infrastructure management (DCIM) beginning to mean too many different things to different people? Just as DCIM is emerging as a hot buzzword in the data center sector, some worry that the term is suffering from "definition creep" in which it is being expanded to describe a variety of products.

"There are people talking about CFD and monitoring company software as if it is true DCIM," said Kevin Brown, Vice President of IT Business for Schneider Electric. "We've got to get a definition that makes sense. We've got to get people thinking of the level of capabilities they need."

That's reflected in this week's roll out of StruxureWare, the new brand for Schneider Electric's suite of management software for data centers and buildings. As part of that announcement, Schneider introduced StruxureWare Operations 7.0, an enterprise software platform for the data center. Schneider segments its offerings into tools for both DCIM and data center facilities management (DCFM), which includes power, cooling and security.

A DCIM "Conversation Starter"

Brown says he believes this is the right approach. "We put a stake in the ground," he said at a recent Schneider media event in Chicago. "Not everyone may agree (with Schneider's definitions). We are trying to generate a conversation here."

Schneider is also playing to its strengths in seeking to emphasize the breadth of its offerings. StruxureWare integrates Schneider's power monitoring (ION Enterprise) and cooling automation (Andover Continuum / TAC Vista). With the variety equipment in the modern data center environment, there's no getting around the fact that management software must be able to talk to tools from an array of vendors to assemble data to manage server and data center operations.

"The real play is getting different kinds of monitoring systems working together in an effective way," said Brown. "This idea that you can have a single interface, I think, is kind of an outdated thought process. We're going to make these systems work together better than anyone else. It's the key."

Two New Modules

StruxureWare Operations 7.0 also two new modules. StruxureWare Operations: Insight is a report designer which allows for customization of reports to match business needs with data integrated from third-party databases or web services. The Insight module consists of a wide array of plug-in templates and scripting options allowing for customization specific to a customer’s data center. The second module, StruxureWare Operations: VIZOR, provides key data center capacity parameters and utilization for power, cooling, space and network directly to Apple iPhone, iPad or Android-based smart phones.

New features of StruxureWare Operations 7.0 include the avility to "drill down" into any data center location globally and get detailed real-time capacity and alarm summaries for any specific location within the data center. Additionally, an instant 3D Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) airflow view of any data center design enables users to quickly identify thermal issues.

“Schneider Electric recognizes the significant challenges our customers are facing while managing their constantly changing data center environments,” said Soeren Brogaard Jensen, Vice President, Enterprise Software, Schneider Electric. “With the release of StruxureWare Operations 7.0, we are addressing these challenges with the most comprehensive DCIM offer in today’s marketplace. Our platform ensures high availability and on-the-go control of the data center while lowering energy consumption.”

Here's a video overview of StruxureWare operations. This video runs about 4 minutes 30 seconds:

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