Exciting Time in the World of DCIM

September 9, 2014 Sev Onyshkevych

It’s an exciting time in the world of DCIM.  As the market matures, DCIM is getting more attention, gaining momentum and its role of oExciting Time for DCIMptimizing mission-critical facility operations is being understood more clearly.  We are also seeing the “hype” around DCIM fading, as companies are concentrating more on the fundamental benefits of the solution.

It’s important to note that DCIM software is a category – not a single application, just as “desktop software” encompasses many different applications.  As evidence, the leading analysts in this space, 451 Group and Gartner, are analyzing DCIM not as a monolithic, single solution anymore, but as a number of various, inter-related modules.

Hence, DCIM should be considered as a category, from which a solution can be customized to answer the needs of the end-user.  A user can implement the specific pieces of the software that apply to their specific needs.  When planning to implement multiple applications, it is important for data center operators to understand how the software pieces must inter-relate — this is critical for data center IT and Facility management considering DCIM implementation.  Many of us will recall how more than a decade ago, the IT side moved away from running independent IT management systems in “silos,” and moved more towards a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) where each module could speak to other modules in a controlled, predefined, fashion.  Some of these very IT systems – trouble ticketing systems, CMDBs, and workflow management – which drove the adoption of SOA — are the same applications with which today’s organizations are trying to integrate their various DCIM tools.

While there are numerous functional modules within the broad category of DCIM, the foundation of DCIM rests atop two fundamental modules:  DCIM Monitoring and IT Asset Management.

Either of these two, or, better, these two basic modules working together, provides the fundamental layer of data, and offer direct, tangible benefits.  They can also enable a number of DCIM “applications” including Capacity Planning, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Dynamic/Adaptive Cooling and IT/Server Control systems, to name just a few.  The applications turn the data into recommendations or direct actions.

The 451 Group’s recent report estimates the DCIM Monitoring market to be 67 times bigger than the CFD market, and IT Asset Management is 40 times bigger than CFD, and growing slightly faster.  Data center operators are now focusing more on getting the basics right and implementing these two areas first, rather than starting with the various “applications” and trying to get them implemented without the underlying flow of information about what you have in the data center, and how it is performing over time.

This evolution in the market’s understanding of DCIM has driven DCIM vendors to specialize and focus on being “best of breed” in one or more areas of DCIM, , rather than try superficially to deliver every single module of DCIM (the “Swiss Army Knife” approach).  For a successful integration and deployment of DCIM, mission-critical IT and Facilities teams should focus on vendors that concentrate on DCIM Monitoring and Capacity Planning, as well as “Big Data” Analytics which can help translate all the collected data into insight and actionable recommendations.

We should note that DCIM can be extended even further, and integrated with IT Services Management (ITSM) applications into something 451 calls “DCSO” (Data Center Service Optimization).

Notwithstanding the hype this area gets, DCIM is 8.5 times bigger than DCSO, and growing at a faster pace, and of course, in order to implement DCSO, one must have implemented the basics of DCIM first.

We can now confidently declare that DCIM is truly coming of age.

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