Daniel Tautges is the CEO of Pinpoint Worldwide Consulting
The Data Center Infrastructure Management Market has been a bit of a paradox, in that everyone seems to now understand the value of DCIM but the market continues to grow at a much slower pace than projected.
In Pinpoint Worldwide’s DCIM adoption survey, the main blockers to DCIM adoption were “Cost” and/or “Lack of Features”. Would a lower cost, full feature, option lead to greater market adoption? Could DCIM-as-a-Service be the answer? Pinpoint believes that the market is ready for DCIM as a Service (DCIMaaS)adoption and that it could provide a foundation for quicker DCIM growth.
SaaS Has Multiple Benefits
A direct advantage of SaaS vs. Enterprise is the upfront acquisition cost. Most SaaS models are priced based on user and/or consumption whereas typical enterprise models are priced based on size. You pay whether you use the system or shelf it. In the early days of DCIM, the complexity to administer the systems became a major roadblock in usability. Often, DCIM products were never put into production.
Feature expansion is a difficult process for most companies as, even if covered by maintenance, allocating and managing the resources to make the change if difficult. SaaS has a distinct advantage of a low up front cost, paying for what you use, and always incorporating the latest, most recent version of code.
Operating expense of enterprise software can be significant, as the hardware and operational costs can easily exceed the initial software expense. When looking at Return on Investment (ROI), the hardware, software, and operations over the life of the solutions needs to be calculated to determine the real ROI. With a SaaS delivery model, the provider manages the support infrastructure that allows much quicker turn-up, eliminating new equipment procurement, provisioning, and commissioning. By removing the operating cost from the solution, ROI’s are more easily attained, with a much quicker payback.
Mobility is a key ingredient in leveraging the power of a SaaS product. In SaaS the application can be accessed virtually anywhere there is an Internet connection. With DCIMaaS, the service would be available whether accessed from a desktop, notebook, or mobile device irrespective of the physical location.
SaaS Needs Reliable Infrastructure
A SaaS service requires high levels of reliability and the risk for vendors that cannot provide it is huge. I would argue that the risk of downtime is much greater for a SaaS vendor than it is for internal IT. If a SaaS service becomes unavailable, typically, it is unavailable for a large portion of their clients. This service level could result in both lost customers and, in some cases, actual SLA penalties.
To alleviate the possibilities of performance related problems most vendors either operate their own data centers or contract with leading hosting companies that insure that there is enough capacity to support their current clients. I propose that most SaaS applications have a much higher standard of operation than typical Enterprise applications and can support a better level of both performance and reliability.
The underlying features in DCIM have low to high-level access level and data level for most organizations. As an example, asset management, modeling, capacity planning, business planning, and change management does not require access to any real-time systems. If the DCIM application is unavailable it could have impact but it will not bring the data center down. Further with some exceptions, the data in these systems is typically not of a high security level. If an outsider had access to the data, it would not be ideal but it would not introduce huge risk.
The only capability of DCIM that represents warranted risks are control and device access. If DCIM is doing control, changing device configuration, and/or doing discovery then a much greater security level needs to be considered. A true SaaS approach might not be realistic where control is involved. But, even in this case, a SaaS hybrid or middleware approach could be employed.
DCIMaaS is in its First Stages
Today, there are not many options for DCIMaaS. The major vendors have all announced a DCIMaaS offering, but only Optimum Path Inc. offers a completely rewritten, true single instance, muti-tenant, solution. The other vendor’s products appear to be entirely re-purposed from their existing enterprise product. This limitation will directly affect their ability to price their products at a low enough level to gain the true cost benefits of DCIMaaS.
DCIMaaS could be the key to unlocking the potential of Data Center Infrastructure Management. DCIMaaS projects to offer a high level of features, lower costs, with higher performance and availability than traditional Enterprise approaches with manageable level of risk.
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