Data Center World drives thoughts on data center infrastructure management

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at the Data Center World conference in Nashville, Tenn. What I found is that almost all the vendors at the conference were pushing their products as part of the new data center infrastructure management (DCIM) paradigm for data center management. The concepts around DCIM are not really new. DCIM is simply the framework for once again simplifying and consolidating IT infrastructure and data management. Instead of separate tools for monitoring the data center itself, such as power can cooling, DCIM attempts to bring together the management of the data center building facility itself along with the IT infrastructure and application/data management.

I found it interesting that although the acronym "DCIM" was somewhat new to me, the concept is similar to one of my previous blogs on the shift to the modular data center, The current data center design and implementation shift. In that blog, I talk about how building out IT infrastructure in data centers by using modular building blocks based on reference architectures can simplify the process while eliminating much of the costs and complexity in IT. DCIM takes a similar approach in consolidating even further to include the data center itself. Taken together, the paradigm changes from managing individual elements and applications to a more holistic viewpoint where policies and automation take the place of component troubleshooting and fire fighting. Now that I know more about what DCIM is and what the industry is trying to do with it, I am a believer. Anything that simplifies IT and removes cost from operations is fine by me.

Once the tools are fully developed, I can foresee a time when IT administrators will have a complete holistic view of all the components under their purview from a single, simple dashboard. Admins will be able to see what is going on more simply, and perhaps be able to tune the environment and applications across all platforms much easier than they can today. Performance tuning, trending and capacity planning will become the principal benefactors of having the tools to gather this type of information in real time. Other benefits, such as chargeback analysis, will be much simpler in the future as every component that makes up a specific user environment can be analyzed and reported on. Another benefit of DCIM will be disaster recovery planning and automation, as geographically dispersed data center locations should be able to be managed together without any trouble.

My experience at the conference also highlighted to me the fact that we are always learning, and attending conferences can be useful in furthering one’s knowledge and career in IT.  For more information on DCIM and where it is going, check out the data center infrastructure management wiki.

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