As data center infrastructure management (DCIM) continues to gain traction and funding, an unexpected name is building a key role in this emerging business: Intel Corp. While known primarily for processors, Intel's innovation extends to middleware like Data Center Manager, which captures real-time information on servers' energy use and temperature and packages it in a data feed.
With Data Center Manager (DCM), Intel is leveraging is relationships with server OEMS and independent software vendors (ISVs). The Intel technology can collect power and temperature data from servers using Intel Xeon chips, but also technology from AMD, IBM and HP, among others. It then packages the data and serves it up as a feed that can be incorporated into DCIM software - in some cases eliminating the need for independent networks of sensors throughout a customer data center.
Working With Many DCIM Providers
"We want to be the standard for the data feed," said Jeff Klaus, Director of Data Center Solutions at Intel. "We're kind of a translation service. We take information from the various OEMs' proprietary software and translate it into a data feed that we can send to an ISV."
Intel says it has put a lot of “engineering muscle” into developing DCM software that is powerful and vendor-neutral. DCM can integrate data from uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, power distribution units (PDUs) and smart power strips, as well as power and temperature data that is modeled or based on periodic readings rather than real-time.
"The fact that it's real-time is the big differentiator," said Klaus. "This is a useful tool for companies doing monitoring that goes beyond the top and bottom of the rack. We've run across scenarios where the temperature difference could be significant.”
The Advantages of Real-Time data
Intel says the data from Data Center Manager can help companies manage their facilities with greater precision, as granular information about power and cooling usage can help identify underutilized racks and potential "hot spots." The real-time nature of the data provides more detailed trending data that can provide insight into how the data center operates in different conditions. DCM can also support power capping strategies that limit server power draws based on policies.
Klaus says Intel's approach is designed to let software developers focus on their core competencies. He also noted that Intel's partners can benefit from its relationships in the industry.
"We're in this business to help our DCM players to focus on what they do best," said Klaus. "How Intel can help is that a lot of these companies are young. The opportunity is that our Intel field people have been working with folks like NASDAQ for 20 years. We can bring credibility to a DCIM provider who is DCM capable. I think Intel can play a key trusted advisor role. We're not going to develop our own solution. That's not how we go to market."
Intel's DCM strategy focuses on three groups::
- ISVs who license Intel DCM technology for use in DCIM software
- Providing DCM as a tool in power management systems for hardware OEMs like Dell and SGI
- Direct sales to data centers that use open source tools or have in-house software development.This customer group includes telcos, and large Internet companies like Baidu and Tencent
Intel is developing additional capabilities for future releases of Data Center Manager, Klaus said, which will liekly include additional temperature readings (such as the exit of the rear of the server) and integration with third-party asset management tools.
Klaus says the DCIM market is developing quickly, with a lot of players, which can be a challenge for customers. "When you dig into the various flavors of products you can buy, it's confusing," he said. "We really haven't seen consolidation in the DCIM space yet, and I don't know who the major players are going to be.”
But he said Intel has certainly noted the analyst predictions that forecast growth of 25 to 40 percent for the DCIM sector.
Here's a video overview of Data Center Manager and some of its capabilities.