Leveraging DCIM to improve datacenter power and operational efficiency

As DCIM tools provide both a global view of the facility and a single interface monitoring of the entire datacenter portfolio, they have emerged as the most sought-after tools for datacenter management

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

The Datacenter Infrastructure Management (DCIM) industry is at the cusp of growth and is expected to see 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 the growth of eCommerce, the role of IT is evolving to provide a competitive advantage to the business. In this wider role, datacenters have become more complex.
Improving productivity, efficiency, and reliability of datacenter operations to deliver an immediate competitive advantage is the need of the hour. And DCIM is the answer to this need.
Minimizing risk to downtime, controlling energy usage/ cost, maximizing utilization 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 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 $1mn/hour, which is far more costly than a similar outage occurring in any other operating function. Hence, CIOs are always looking for new ways to enhance daily operational efficiencies, and DCIM is the newest tool in the market.
McKinsey & Company has estimated that operation of the corporate datacenter 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 datacenter performance, utilization, and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment and infrastructure components.
Some immediate questions that DCIM solution addresses
„„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.
„„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?
„„Capacity Management and Planning: How much space, power, and networking do I have? When will the same fall short? Where to add new assets?
„„Advanced Energy Monitoring and Management: How much energy is being consumed? Who is consuming it? What is the cost? How to accommodate high density?
Every datacenter has spare capacity, which remains unutilized and still paid for. It varies from about 30 to 50%. This is because the sizing of the datacenter is done based on the name plate rating of the equipment in the datacenter.
Add to that, the buffer/safety margin of about 20% which is created. Reality is that only about 40% of the power is being utilized. Balance 60% is lying idle but being paid for. The challenge is to identify which rack has spare power, space, etc.
It is only with actual, real-time power usage for each piece of datacenter 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 datacenters 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 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 datacenter management. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2016, two-thirds of mature datacenter 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 datacenter portfolio.
DCIM solutions are now being implemented by companies across all sectors like BFSI, PSUs, healthcare, telecom, eCommerce, 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 datacenter. This very ability to oversee the infrastructure and equipment integration aids in forecasting and trending, helping datacenter 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 datacenter 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 datacenter market.
Some direct initiatives in state datacenters and smart cities would attract large domestic and international organizations seeking a reliable, scalable, and cost-effective IT environment for growth.

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