The money spent on data centers these days can make even the most kind-hearted CFO cringe. There’s the nearly monumental outlay for basic infrastructure, staggering energy bills, cost of maintenance and upgrades, and, of course, staffing with increasingly expensive IT talent. So, the last thing CIOs and data center managers want to worry about is downtime, especially if they’re running mission critical tasks.

Size doesn’t matter in “mission critical”


Whether it’s a server room with 15 cabinets or a stand-alone facility with thousands of cabinets, data centers must function holistically and be greater than the sum of their parts. Systems and parts must be available 24/7, work efficiently, and be managed properly. Downtime is anathema to success; the show must go on.

DCIM: The “power tools” every data center needs

Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools have proven time and again to solve a pressing need, providing an eye’s-on overview that today’s growing data centers can’t afford to be without. These integrated business tools automatically monitor a data center’s operation, helping reduce both energy and maintenance costs. From a CIO’s viewpoint, they turn a data center inside out, helping managers and operators gage its capacity, readiness, and vulnerability to downtime.

The right DCIM tools can create the readiness today’s data centers must have for their most demanding mission-critical tasks. Systems, devices, and software must be efficiently and economically managed. This means cabinet and floor space, as well as power and cooling systems, must be under close vigilance to assure availability and sustainability goals. Effective DCIM tools fully exploit existing monitoring programs to ensure system managers can acquire, store and analyze operational data with the utmost efficiency.

Quick response mechanisms

Data centers are fluid entities. Nothing stays the same from day to day, minute to minute. Additions and upgrades constantly change the operating posture of these organizations. Things like twisted pair cable or optical fiber cable patch panels, core, access and aggregation switches, power strips or PDUs, specific application servers or storage units.

System limitations often govern how adroitly one can make these changes. The right DCIM tools provide system managers with reliable, actionable information to ensure these changes and upgrades are properly implemented. The goal is to keep systems in a state of readiness and to respond quickly in the event of an outage or failure.

Monitoring usage and performance

With the right DCIM tools, data center managers can acquire real-time performance data they can use to re-orient systems and devices. This includes trends, usage data and specific metrics that can prove invaluable to CIOs and CFOs.

Monitoring performance at various levels can provide the alarms and system profile thresholds managers need for sustain optimal efficiencies. Managers can be apprised of the status of a system, room, specific row or even a single cabinet via a central workstation from their mobile laptop. This allows one to plan ahead for changes that may significantly impact the data center and its operational readiness.

Managing devices and systems

A key advantage provided by today’s powerful DCIM tools is inventory management. The right DCIM software can efficiently build a database of a center’s physical devices. This can include device manufacturer, components, installation dates, location of cabinets, position of units, power connections, wattage draw, and type and quantity of connections. Armed with this information, managers can make informed decisions on the data center’s abilities and how additions, replacements, and upgrades will affect its readiness and susceptibility to downtime episodes. Equally important, this information can prove most valuable in pinpointing vulnerabilities and recovery scenarios.

Rajan Sodhi is chief marketing officer at Tuangru