The FULL DCIM Window Shopping Checklist

May 22, 2017 Mark Gaydos

A Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution is an investment worth making and one that will pay for itself by producing a considerable return. However, when shopping for a DCIM solution you want to make sure to choose the one that best fits your long-term business needs.

In todays market, there are many vendors who claim to offer the best DCIM solution but caveat emptor is a good rule to follow. Some vendors offer a complete solution, while others offer only a partial solution. Before you make a final decision, do your research. Review Gartner and other analyst firms’ research to determine who the leading DCIM suppliers are, and dive deeply into the software vendors’ websites to get a better sense of their range of services and solutions. In addition, do your due diligence and ask a lot of questions. If its the right DCIM provider, they wont be hesitant to provide responses to all your questions and back it up with real-world customer success stories. Needless to say, the best vendors will give you that feeling of confidence not only in the DCIM solution, but also in the companys ability to support you through installation.

When window shopping for a DCIM solution, make sure you keep the checklist of must-ask vendor questions handy:

  • How long have you been in business?
    • Make sure you don’t select an unproven entity or a novice company. You don’t want to get involved with a fly-by-night operation.
    • Make sure they can clearly demonstrate DCIM expertise.
  • Is DCIM all you do?
    • Is DCIM what they do, all day, every day?
    • Is it what they are passionate about?
    • Or is DCIM just a sideline operation that they don’t concentrate on fully and might get lost among their larger concerns?
  • Can you do a POC?
    • If they are proud of and confident in their DCIM product, they should be able to provide a proof of concept (POC).
    • Be wary of any company that won’t do this. It’s a red flag.
    • Is the DCIM solution fully operational? Many contenders for business fail at this point.
  • Do you have customer references I can contact?
    • They should have clients who are happy with the product and willing to be advocates.
    • See if you can talk to one of their customers in a business similar to your own.
  • Does your solution monitor my data center assets from Dock to Decom?
    • You need a DCIM solution that will keep track of your assets from when they land on the loading dock, until they are decommissioned through their entire lifecycle.
  • How difficult is it to get your solution up and running?
    • Is it going to take weeks, or months?
    • Will they provide help every step of the way? How do their customers rate their customer service?
    • How difficult is it to migrate the data you already have in your current systems to the new system?
  • How many people will I need to dedicate to your DCIM solution?
    • Youll need to know this for personnel planning and scheduling.
    • If you are a large enterprise, ask if the vendor can provide a dedicated person or team to help deploy your DCIM solution.
  • Can your solution handle asset lifecycle management, capacity planning, power monitoring and more?
    • Figure out what your priorities are.
      • What do you need monitored, measured and maximized?
      • Make sure the DCIM solution can deliver specifically what you need.
  • Will your solution make all my stakeholders happy, including the CIO?
    • This is related to the preceding question: in addition to management and monitoring, you’ll need to share what you learn with different groups and departments within your organization.
      • Does this solution provide the types of reports you would need?
      • And if it doesn’t, can they be created and by whom?
      • Are these reports customizable?
  • How scalable is your product?
    • Data Centers are becoming larger, denser and more complex.
      • Can the DCIM solution handle the kind of volume you’ll need?
      • How often are you polling?
      • How much of that information has to be stored long-term?
  • Does your product have alarms and alerts?
    • Do they have the capability to warn the management before a disaster happens when there is still time to avoid it?
    • Do they offer a “what if” scenario for disaster prevention testing?
  • Can you tell me about your security?
    • Was the DCIM solution developed with security in mind?
    • Have they been certified secure by a neutral third party?
    • Are there any examples of security issues that were handled expediently by their DCIM solution?
  • How well does your solution integrate with my existing systems and assets?
    • Is the solution agnostic?
    • Is the architecture flexible? Is it web-based?
    • Does the solution integrate with mission-critical ITSM systems? Virtualization and other platforms?
    • Are there pre-built connectors to other systems?
    • Can it communicate with your other systems to give you a single pane-of-glass?
      • You don’t want any of your vital information siloed and unreachable.
  • Do you provide training?
    • Make sure the minute you make a purchase that your vendor doesn’t disappear. You’ll need help getting your team up to speed, and making sure they see the value and can use the solution independently. If your team is not confident in how the solution works, and don’t see the benefits, they won’t use the solution.
  • How do I track my savings?
    • Can they provide reports that you can present to your upper management to justify the solution purchase?
    • Ask how long it will be before you see a real ROI.

Your potential DCIM solution provider should be an open book, so ask for a demo, a POC, references and make sure to contact them all. You don’t want to end up with shelfware, a solution nobody uses. You owe it to your organization to perform some window shopping for a DCIM solution in order to make sure its the right one for your business and your long-term goals. And if it is, then you’ll be the customer they’ll be calling for a reference to share successes and ROI gains.

 

 

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