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Your Guide to Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)


ROBABLY the hottest buzzword in the data center industry today is Data Center

Infrastructure Management (DCIM). Every product seems to offer some sort of DCIM capability, and there are several stand-alone DCIM systems that claim to cover everything. But what is DCIM really? What should it be able to do? The emergence of DCIM monitoring

tools gives rise to a number of questions. • What makes DCIM valuable to your enterprise? • Will it help improve your bottom line? • Will it do everything you need initially and will it grow with you into the future? • How much staff time will be needed to implement it and keep it updated? These are the questions to ask

both your vendors and yourself before jumping into any DCIM system. The early days of DCIM were about

managing floor space and keeping track of assets. The power utilization effectiveness (PUE) metric has spurred it to become an all-encompassing tool for monitoring the entire data center infrastructure. If you’re really concerned about energy efficiency, improving PUE and energy cost savings, you need a whole range of power and cooling information as well as asset management, which can be stored in a DCIM system. The phrase, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” has never been more true than with the challenge of reducing energy use and cost.

Understanding What to Measure For many data centers, having data

on room temperature, rack power draws, and alarms for uninterruptable power supply (UPS) and air conditioner failures is sufficient. DCIM solutions are available in a variety of forms from several hardware and software vendors—from those who make intelligent plug strips, computer room air conditioners (CRACs), and humidity sensors to asset tracking and cabinet security access—and many will integrate those fundamental parameters into a cost-effective package that may do even more. But for large facilities, especially those that want to track PUE and maximize the efficiency of both energy and computing usage, more information will be necessary. You could implement discrete

DCIM solutions from each vendor you use—separate units for UPS and air conditioners, rack power, the central cooling plant, the generators, and asset management. But creating a major DCIM system in this manner would result in a confusing array of disparate displays, reports, and data listings that would likely overlap and become unwieldy. More likely, most of the systems would fall into disuse, resulting in a lot of money spent on technology with no management benefit.

Working Together Everything in the data center is

now interrelated and codependent. Servers draw more power as processor

8 WWW.PCCONNECTION.COM 1.800.800.0014

utilization increases, then ramp down with reduced computing load. That affects cooling requirements, which in newer facilities should be delivered from air conditioners with variable speed controls. Those, in turn, should cause changes in pump speeds, chiller capacities, and cooling tower operation. In a well-designed infrastructure all this should be automatically balanced, but it still needs to be monitored to make sure it’s working right. Information from your DCIM

system should also help determine how best to deploy and utilize

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