Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

Five Key Trends in DCIM

Gartner's IT Infrastructure & Operations Summit in Orlando was a great show, writes Matt Bushell of Nlyte. From a Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) standpoint, there were a lot of observations that were worth noting, such as Infrastructure and Operations professionals need to show their value to the rest of the business.

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Matt Bushell leads Nlyte’s Product and Corporate Marketing efforts as their Sr. Product and Corporate Marketing Manager. Prior to joining Nlyte, Matt worked at IBM for more than ten years, helping to launch multiple products in their Information Management and SMB groups.




I recently attended the Gartner IT Infrastructure & Operations Summit in Orlando, and had the opportunity to sit in on several sessions. If you were fortunate enough to attend yourself, you don’t need me to tell you that it was a great show. From a Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) standpoint, there were a lot of observations I picked up on that are worth sharing.

Regarding the show itself, there was a lot of interest in I&O. Proof of that was with the kickoff keynotes (Mike Chuba, David Coyle, Donna Scott) where the events were standing room only (and this was not a small conference). For individual presentations, Gartner had each presenter conclude their sessions with related research for deeper follow up. For the closing wrap-up, it was much more than a “thanks for coming” rather it was a true overview of the entire plenum with bulleted observations (M.Chuba and D.Coyle literally went through every presentation to formulate the final session).

But instead of repeating the points in the Gartner wrap-up topic (as not all spoke directly to DCIM), here are the top five takeaways from a DCIM perspective:

Infrastructure and Operations professionals need to show their value to the rest of the business.

This point was made in the introductory keynote by Donna Scott, and came up in spades in sessions focusing on Financial Management (Robert Naegle) and Metrics (Jeff Brooks). It isn’t even “how efficiently you are doing your job,” but literally, “how much money you are saving the business.” Everyone takes for granted and thus expects I&O professionals to fix an outage, but which problem would you address first and why? How much does improving my MTTR by 10% mean to the business? Comparative metrics are key, to you, versus benchmarking to some “industry averages” as no one is satisfied with being average.

Why is this important to DCIM? DCIM solutions can help I&O professionals measure their business operations, aligning tasks to owners, showing chargebacks and usage.

I&O professionals need to think in terms of Business Services as their end customer.

This point is derivative of the former, but merits its own mention. Too frequently I&O says, “I got that application back online in 20 minutes”. Great. But is that business group going to appreciate that 20 minutes? Rather, they expect you to get them back online. But how expensive would another 10 minutes have been? What’s the value of that to the overall business?

Why is this important to DCIM? Business services is the top level in a business, sitting above an application, in order to support a business service, you need to consider all the infrastructure involved. Without that level of view, proper planning cannot be undertaken.

CFO of IT cares about service cost and makes sourcing decisions.

This point was brought up by VMware, but in connection to the above points, really hits home as it is the cost of a service, not an application, is what counts. For sourcing, they make decisions, and thus own the hardware budgets.
Why is this important to DCIM?For all the reasons above, services costs are paramount, is the reason that DCIM and ITSM should be integrated. In regards to sourcing, the more efficiently you refresh your hardware, the better off you’ll be, and having a strong DCIM system manage changes in the data center due to hardware / technology refreshes can make all the difference.

Complexity exists in your IT service chain, you just need to acknowledge and manage it

George Spafford had a session chock-full that covered complexity, and it really needs to be acknowledged. IT environments are complex. Data Centers are increasingly complex. Processes are complex. And of course costs of service go up with complexity. But you can have a minimum of processes; you can master that complexity (if only through repetition.)

Why is this important to DCIM?There are processes in the data center for asset moves, adds and changes, and a DCIM solution like Nlyte’s has ways to manage complexity, namely Workflow. Integrated with IT Service Management is how Nlyte helps clients manage these complexities of change.

Infrastructure as a Service and Cloud place more stress on your infrastructure.

Almost as a continuation of the complexity statement, these higher level abstraction of a physical environment actually place greater stresses on your physical environment with higher utilization rates, increased power densities and thus increased workload and need for cooling.

Why is this important to DCIM?In a way, the more advanced your IT environment, the more you leverage your physical infrastructure, the closer you need to manage it – which is precisely where DCIM comes into play: managing and optimizing power, cooling, space, network connections and even weight.

Without a doubt, the financially oriented sessions (in addition to the keynotes) were the best attended. Ironically, the couple DCIM-labeled ones that were amongst the worst. Whether the attendees didn’t perceive the value of DCIM or those organizations that presented did not “speak I&O’s language” is unclear. What I know is that DCIM has a lot to offer Infrastructure and Organization teams, and attending the Gartner IT I&O Summit only verified that in spades.

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