Achieve Higher Performance with Tighter Budgets Using DCIM

BY: Sanjay Motwani, Regional Director,  India, SEA, Taiwan & Hong Kong, Raritan International

The Data Center Infrastructure Management industry is at the cusp of its growth and sees tremendous traction in the next five years. IT has evolved from batch processing to being a business environment enabler. However, now with a fast changing environment and growth of e-commerce, the role of IT is evolving to provide a competitive advantage to the business. In this wider role the data centers have become more complex. Improving productivity, efficiency and reliability of data center operations to deliver an immediate competitive advantage is the need of the hour. DCIM is the answer to this need.

Minimizing risk to downtime, controlling energy usage/cost, maximizing utilisation of current resources, living with tighter budgets and financing major investments are some of the key challenges focusing on IT operations in any business environment.

Let us consider the cost, the loss of revenue, the internal dislocation, not to mention the damage to customer relationships and corporate image that 60 minutes of outage would create. Typical estimates are $1,000,000/hour, which is far more costly than a similar outage occurring in any other operating function. CIOs are always looking for new ways to enhance daily operational efficiencies, and Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is the newest tool in the market.

McKinsey & Company has estimated that operation of the corporate data center consumes 25% of the IT budget, (plus an additional 15% for network LAN/WAN making it an obvious target for improved efficiency and cost reduction). Therefore it becomes pivotal that it is operated efficiently and achieving a cost-effective result requires the use of sophisticated tools to deal with its complexity. As per Gartner, DCIM monitors, measures, manages and/or controls data center performance, utilization and energy consumption of all IT related equipment and infrastructure components. Some immediate questions that DCIM solution addresses are –

  1. Asset Management – What are the available assets and where are they located? How is it configured? Who owns it? It simplifies managing huge data in an efficient manner.

  2. Change management – How to manage moves, adds and deletes? What is the impact? Who does the work and how do I know when it has been done.

  3. Capacity Management and Planning – How much space, power and networking do I have? When will the same fall short? Where to add new assets?

  4. Advanced Energy Monitoring and Management – How much energy is being consumed? Who is consuming it? What is the cost of it? How to accommodate high density?

Every data center has spare capacity – which is being unutilised and paid for. It varies from about 30 % to 50%. This is because the sizing of the DC is done based on the name plate rating of the equipment in the DC. Add to that, the buffer / safety margin of about 20% which is created. Reality is that only about 40% of the power is being utilised. Balance 60% is lying idle but being paid for. The challenge is to identify which rack has spare power, space, etc.

Hence, it is only with actual, real time power usage for each piece of data center equipment over appropriate periods of operation, that it is possible to fine-tune power distribution to identify spare capacity, eliminate the risks of circuit overloads and make the relevant changes to significantly reduce power usage.

This is especially critical for data centers that employ server virtualization. An advanced DCIM product will enable you to visualize the entire power train from the device in a rack to the primary UPS, see the usage and pinpoint potential imbalances and waste. Since most power waste and therefore usage/cost reduction opportunities occur at the end-point server, an advanced DCIM product will help identify “ghost” servers that are turned on but are idle (an idle server will draw upward of 65% of its nameplate wattage); it will show underutilized servers that are prospects for consolidation or virtualization. Servers that can be put to sleep for extended periods of inactivity and indicate inefficient servers that are best prospects for replacement with newer, high-efficiency systems.

In the last few years, DCIM has grown to be the most sought-after tool for data center management. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2016, two-thirds of mature DC markets will use DCIM tools. This is because the DCIM system provides both a global view of the facility and a single interface monitoring of the entire DC portfolio. Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solutions are now being implemented by companies across all sectors like BFSI, PSUs, healthcare, telecom, e-commerce, media and entertainment and by companies of all sizes. Though Building Automation Systems, Electrical Power Monitoring Systems, IT Network Management and Security Systems are all critical to monitor performances at local level, DCIM integrates all local and independent systems into one dashboard providing a holistic view of the data center. This very ability to oversee the infrastructure and equipment integration aids in forecasting and trending, helping data center management to make informed decisions both on a daily basis as well as when capital investments arise.

In short, DCIM enables organizations to effectively assess and establish the inherent value of all their data center assets and provides them with clear insight into power usage, utilization, applications, and overall performance. Moreover, with the recent focus on cutting costs and conserving energy, organizations are looking for ways to achieve their business goals, without additional burden on their infrastructure. Besides, many initiatives being discussed by the new government would have a direct impact on building India as a world class Data Center Market. Some direct initiatives in State Data Centers and Smart Cities would attract large domestic and international organizations seeking a reliable, scalable and cost effective IT environment for growth.