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Paul Goodison: What truly is DCIM?

Cormant has been developing and growing its IT infrastructure management solution for the data center and beyond (DCIM/ITIM) and solving challenges for global customers since 2001. Their solutions are sold globally with customers on 5 continents, including multi-nationals from the banking, consulting, IT, travel, hotel, government, manufacturing, health and telecommunications industries. Cormant is focused on working with customers to improve their management, control and reporting processes by delivering a solution that provides a single-pane-of-glass view to where the physical and logical layers of IT infrastructure meet. Cormant has companies in the US, Philippines, UK and Australia.

Rake Narang: What truly is DCIM?

Paul Goodison: Well that is an interesting question because the answer is it rather dependent on who you ask. There are two main reasons for this, first the term “DCIM”, it’s too broad to have one meaning, second as users problems vary their need and therefore their definition of DCIM tends to vary.

However I believe that at the heart of a DCIM solution is a strong infrastructure asset management piece. Now I am not talking financial asset management, but the ability to record and track all the assets that make up the data center. Without this critical information anything else – power management, VM management – is based on incomplete information. I’d not want to suggest that DCIM is ‘just’ asset management, far from it, but that is at the heart of a solution. DCIM should be the glue between various systems as it becomes a central repository of data about the infrastructure, this leads to CMDB, ticket, NMS and BMS/HVAC systems all interacting with the DCIM solution.

About Paul Goodison

Rake Narang: Where is DCIM most useful in an organization/enterprise?

Paul Goodison: On the IT side of the business. I see lots of talk about DCIM being facilities side, but the reality is the facilities side of the business is well served by management systems they have been using for years (for example most facilities managers can tell you power to their facility and information about the generator and cooling systems). What has been missing is an infrastructure management system for the various groups working in, or having equipment in, the DC. These folks use spreadsheets today and need a better solution. In addition the facilities side has little visibility of what the business is planning in terms of equipment deployments and is therefore unable to offer advice or take action. With DCIM the facilities teams can participate in the decision making, rather than trying to fix a problem (say cooling) that should never have occurred in the first place. DCIM is a consolidation point for DC information and should be used by everyone who has a stake in the data center. DCIM is bought by and large by the IT/operations side of the business because that is where the problems with the way data is managed today exist. I’ve see data center operations managers who need 6 or 7 people to get together with their server, switch, rack, VLAN, power, storage spreadsheets just to deploy a single server, that is obviously not efficient.

Rake Narang: What are some common myths about DCIM?

Paul Goodison: Good question, there are a few that come to mind. The most obvious is the idea that DCIM means one thing or has one definition. It does not; the term is very broad and can mean very different things to different people. Vendors have solutions that are spread across a wide spectrum of facilities and operations functions. I think another myth that we are seeing right now is the ‘spread’ of solutions into automated control functions and the idea that that is a good thing. IT is littered with huge monolithic solutions that do too much. DCIM is a great source of consolidated data, but micro-control of servers? I am far from convinced. A wishful thinking myth (probably by us vendors) is that DCIM will just solve your DC issues. DCIM is a piece of software (in some cases a very good piece of software), but it needs process and maturity round it to work and solve those issues. Finally the myth that DCIM needs to cost millions (or at least hundreds of thousands); it does not and there are plenty of sensibly priced solutions out there that will solve the problems that DC staff really have.

Rake Narang: What is essential to ensuring long term DCIM adoption?

Paul Goodison: I’d list four items that if thought about during the evaluation and procurement process mean that the DCIM solution will be in use in the enterprise 10 years from now:

First it’s critical to understand the problems in the environment the DCIM solution will operate, not what the vendors say you need to manage or fix, but what actually causes people in that environment pain. In the end any DCIM solution is meant to help and if it forces a customer to manage too much it’s useless as people don’t see the point of collecting the data. What is important is “just enough management” to manage what is necessary now, but leave flexibility to manage more later. Money follows success. Start focused and don’t try and eat the elephant.

Second understanding that recording the assets in the data center and relevant information about them is a foundation to pretty much anything useful a customer wants to do with DCIM. It is limited value to know what power a rack is using if what is in the rack remains a mystery.

Third customers need to understand that process change is vital to keep data up-to-date. DCIM success is hard and without recognizing that process change and some level of enforcement (auditing) around the use of DCIM is necessary failure is likely.

Finally mobility is vital. If you think about the changes that go on in and around a data center if each of these has to be somehow recorded on paper and then updated back on a PC it’s obvious data will get out of date. This is why I am positive that mobile access to all data is mandatory to ensure DCIM data is always being kept up-to-date.

Get this all right (as many customers have) and the enterprise is freed from spreadsheet misery and will have real insight into their data center and can protect and increase the life of the data center while reducing risk and operational cost.

Company: Cormant, Inc.
669 Pacific St, STE D, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93401 U.S.A.

Founded in: 2001
CEO: Paul Goodison
Public or Private: Private
Head Office in Country: United States
Products and Services: DCIM Solutions, Enterprise IT Infrastructure Management, Training, Consulting and Deployment Services

Company’s Goals: Rid the Data Center of IT infrastructure spreadsheets. Provide a solution to consolidate all logical and physical data about the Infrastructure, Assets and Connectivity inside and outside the data center.
Key Words: DCIM, Enterprise Infrastructure Management.
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