There’s little doubt that increasingly complex enterprises face huge challenges in maintaining and improving key deliverables to clients. Pressures from outside and from within are forcing data centers to become more efficient in space and power consumption, in profitability, and in ensuring security in the face of cyber threats.
Situational Awareness to Fully Exploit Resources
The right data center management software can provide the situational awareness data centers need to run efficiently, to inventory and employ facilities, hardware, tools, software, and personnel in the most effective manner. No longer do data centers have to be saddled with under-utilized hardware (or zombie servers). data center management software, such as DCIM, can provide the much-needed metrics for budgeting, service planning, and compliance audits. With increased situational awareness comes the agility to move with fluctuating business climates, a critically important factor in enhancing availability, reliability, overall quality, and serviceability.
But many data centers increasingly find themselves in quicksand when it comes to updating their management systems, tools, and best practices. They are simply unable to plan, economically run or perform much-needed data analysis to improve workflow.
Situational awareness allows operations teams to clearly identify their resources and the way they’re configured and employed. It reveals a facilities’ availability (and vulnerability) when it comes to performance, capacity, and cost-effectiveness in delivering reliable, uninterrupted services.
Michael L. Ross, a data center management consultant who has over 10 years helping large data centers reduce their total cost of ownership underscores the importance of a DCIM software in providing situational awareness.
“Ten years ago, data centers were focused on availability and performance. Today, data centers need to understand the total cost of ownership and its elements to deliver a service. You need to manage the cost of the data center plus the infrastructure supporting it, as well as maintain high operating efficiencies,” he said.
Preventive Maintenance for Maximum Uptime
With looming threats of natural disasters and computer hacking, and the resulting exorbitant costs of downtime, operations teams need to do everything they can to keep their facilities properly maintained. Yet many facilities fall victim to these unforeseen tragic events. A data center infrastructure management software can be the key to managing maintenance and avoiding painful downtime.
DCIM software can help set facility markers like PDUs (Power Distribution Units) into maintenance mode or notify if a device is out of service, or has been physically de-commissioned. The software can still access historical data for analytics and reports but remain clear of events that lead to false positives. It can also efficiently deal with change management using workflow validation and an audit trail to ensure compliance. Operations teams can breathe a sigh of relief because changes and key updates are available in real-time. No more missed updates.
Root Cause Analysis to Resolve Issues Quickly
Data center managers are often confronted with an avalanche of data. But, severing a router from the network could result in hundreds of “link lost” alarms for devices located downstream. Identifying the root cause in the din of these serially compounding events can pose a challenge. DCIM software can prove invaluable to operations teams, making them aware of device-to-device relationships and draw their attention to the device or router that’s disrupting the system. Root cause analysis can resolve these issues quickly, reducing downtime.
Automation to Plan, Control, Allocate Resources
According to a DCIM Solution Deployment Survey commissioned by Intel and Schneider Electric, the problem of manual, time-intensive tasks drove more than half of data center managers to seek a DCIM software to automate their enterprise.
Augmenting DCIM tools are Automated Infrastructure Management (AIM) systems, which bring much-needed connectivity data to DCIM software. Employing smart cables and patch panels, these systems provide a clear, real-time view of the current state of a data center’s physical network, including which cables are connected to which ports.
Operations teams are constantly under pressure to maintain uptime and quickly deploy data center services. What they need is an automation tool to more measure capacity and forecast demand, curb costs, and maintain a high level of data center performance. DCIM tools can serve to optimize data center automation. They can dovetail industrial control systems and predictive analytics to ensure optimal use of networked assets.
Ross notes that Hyperview’s cloud-based DCIM tools can be a vital asset in implementing automation solutions. “Automation has taken on a new meaning,” he said. “No longer are you looking to implement a ‘lights out’ strategy where the IT components balance the load and prevent outages with little to no human interaction. Today’s data center needs to automate and integrate space/power/cooling industrial building systems for a total automated environment.”
With the latest DCIM and AIM solutions, operations teams get a top-down view of their infrastructure, one that’s both current and easy to understand. Uniting these two powerful solutions finally gives managers the information they need to effectively plan, control and allocate resources.
Network Security and Intrusion Detection
Recently, both the size and frequency of cyberattacks have seen a sharp increase. Concerned data center managers have a right to ask if existing DCIM software vendor offerings are vulnerable. Experts agree that both online and offline software can fall victim to cyberattacks.
Based on how far a DCIM software is corkscrewed into a data center, a cyberattack can significantly impact one’s infrastructure—even to the point of collapse.
Typically, DCIM software is an observation layer, meaning that they can query a CRAC device for fan speed, but cannot for example turn off that fan, a function more suitable for a BMS system. However, the software does offer an inventory of critical infrastructure assets that can be targets for attacks. Securing a DCIM software is therefore essential to securing these critical devices.
Rami Jebara, Chief Technology Officer at Hyperview, reveals the importance of the right DCIM software in maintaining data center security. “Securing a data center requires hardening against external and internal actors. An effective DCIM solution can be instrumental in guarding against these threats by providing detailed change logs on all the devices it monitors.”