CyrusOne Says DCIM Software Data Not Open Enough

Colo provider's data center VP struggles to find DCIM vendor that provides the level of access to data she needs

Jason Verge

July 1, 2015

5 Min Read
CyrusOne Says DCIM Software Data Not Open Enough
CyrusOne’s Phoenix I data center in Chandler, Arizona (Photo: CyrusOne)

An enterprise data center and a colocation data center have different Data Center Infrastructure Management needs. Colocation houses many different types and sizes of customers, while an enterprise data center houses one.

These needs are different enough that many DCIM software providers have released colocation-specific offerings. Colocation is a large potential market opportunity for them, as more businesses become comfortable with outsourcing, and they don't want to miss out. Data center provider CyrusOne exemplifies an ideal customer in this category.

Access to DCIM Data Limited for Users

So, how do you win a DCIM deal with a CyrusOne?

Amaya Souarez, VP for Data Center Systems and Security at CyrusOne, joined after the decision to use DCIM was made, but she was tasked with driving operational insight.

The company uses DCIM software, but there is still a single requirement that Souarez continues to look for that hasn't been met by DCIM vendors, which is direct access to the data that DCIM suites collect. “The area I wish that I had been here to drive more requirements for is in access to the SQL data being collected by these packages,” she said.

CyrusOne has had several discussions with different DCIM providers, according to Souarez, which continue to this day. “The DCIM packages (suites) are great," she said. "I’m impressed with Fieldview; Panduit has done great work on SynapSense. But where they’re falling down is I need better ability to extract data out of these systems.”

Souarez knows infrastructure monitoring. Prior to CyrusOne, she spent a baker’s dozen of years at Microsoft, most of it driving the company’s earliest programs to pull useful, actionable information out of the data center to improve efficiency. Souarez was tasked with building an internal toolset at CyrusOne as well, and not a single DCIM provider can offer her an API that provides direct access to the SQL databases, she said.

“When you look at where everything is going in terms of cloud and ticketing, any number of solutions – having a really great API and having the ability to easily extract out data is super important," said Souarez. "But it hasn’t been embraced fully by the data center industry quite yet.”

Although she has pushed for better direct access, she understands why DCIM providers are hesitant. “I feel that they’re concerned I’ll figure out their schema,” she said. “However, this is just me - for internal use. There are a lot of analytics we want to do within the company.”

Large companies often build the kind of analytics Souarez desires in-house. A multi-national bank or a web-scale data center user has these capabilities because it has the resources to build them.

What Souarez is asking for may mean a different business model for DCIM providers. API direct SQL access to information might give away the secret sauce – how DCIM takes information and turns it into actionable insight.

So where should the value of DCIM software be? Her suggestion is providing the direct access while focusing on developing a marketplace for other tools. It would be akin to how enabled developers to use data for a variety of purposes in a wider marketplace.

Colocation DCIM Usage

As mentioned above, colocation is very different from enterprise. CyrusOne concerns itself with what’s going on with the facility, while the companies colocating inside are responsible for what’s going on with their servers. It is also in a position where it has “different ages and flavors” of data centers, which means having to understand and measure a portfolio of heterogeneous facilities that look and act differently.

“Since DCIM has really started to pick up as a concept in recent years, it’s made tremendous strides," said Souarez. ”It’s great to see people stepping up. However, for me it’s about the openness."

The company does use DCIM software and a variety of other tools extensively in the data center. “If you were to name a BMS (Building Management System), we probably have it somewhere in our portfolio,” said Souarez.

It recently outlined its work with Panduit. That relationship began with SynapSense, which Panduit acquired last year.

How CyrusOne Uses DCIM

CyrusOne has two primary uses for infrastructure management: increasing efficiency and providing intel to customers. So far, the focus has been optimization of the facility environment on the CyrusOne side. Its customers primarily use DCIM to track the provider's ability to meet Service Level Agreements.

Panduit’s SynapSense is being deployed in three phases. In the first phase, wireless environmental monitoring is deployed. Next, Panduit Services, together with the CyrusOne team, uses Panduit tools and metrics to optimize data center cooling and “balance” the airflow. In the final phase, Active Control, a feature of SynapSoft software, automatically maintains efficient and cost-effective operating conditions. It dynamically matches cooling to the varying equipment loads and conditions in the data center.

As a result, operational reliability is enhanced while saving on energy costs is maximized.

How CyrusOne Customers Use DCIM

“Different customers want different things,” said Souarez. “We’re not a company that has four huge, mammoth customers leasing entire data centers. We have customers from a single rack to entire suite and every flavor in between.”

Almost all customers use what CyrusOne provides minimally, according to her. The ownership in colocation is split between facility and the servers within, meaning customers may deploy their own DCIM software solutions.

Almost all customers leverage CyrusOne’s DCIM deployment for one purpose: to see if Service Level Agreements were met. About one out of ten of those customers want to look at this data on a daily basis. The balance of 1 percent are heavy users, though Souarez said their needs are increasing. “One percent want me to provide them with near-real-time data,” she said. "Fortune 1000 companies want real-time data streaming to them."

These customers often do their own DCIM thing atop of what CyrusOne offers. “What I see from my customers, some of them have their own platforms, where they’re looking at the compute and storage and want to integrate that data on the backend," said Souarez.

In addition to the one percenters, Souarez also noted several instances where customers started taking a peek at the data only at the end of the month and eventually became daily users wanting information down to the rack level.

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