Cormant-CS & DCIM FAQs

About Cormant-CS (Formerly CableSolve)

Cormant-CS Mobility/Portability

Managing the Infrastructure

Investment

Technical

Installation and Support

About Cormant and our Customers

What is Cormant-CS?

Cormant-CS is a mature, complete IT infrastructure management solution for use in the Data Center (DCIM), work area and campus environments.

Cormant-CS comprises a server, web, client and mobile components. The web is used for most day-to-day desktop activity and the powerful mobile platforms that Cormant-CS supports are used to record changes as they are made in the infrastructure. These include Apple, Android and Blackberry online applications as well as a feature rich offline application supported on Windows Mobile.

The use of mobility means that changes are recorded in real time ensuring that all information is always up-to-date and trusted for planning and further change management.

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Does Cormant-CS scale to support large/global enterprises?

Yes, absolutely. Cormant-CS was designed from the start to support the very largest global customers across all their sites. Cormant-CS is designed to run over global WAN connections.

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What types of customers benefit from Cormant-CS?

Any organization with a significant installed IT base can benefit from Cormant-CS. For some customers this may mean thousands (or tens of thousands) of racks in each of multiple data centers, or possibly tens of thousands work stations that need to be tracked.

If a customer is using spreadsheets to track their infrastructure today they are a candidate for Cormant-CS.

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How is Cormant-CS different from other infrastructure management systems available?

For a start Cormant-CS has the most advanced mobility/portability solutions available. This ensures that Cormant-CS data is going to be more accurate, as the data is updated when and where changes are made.

Cormant-CS is also one of the most flexible systems available. It is extremely configurable ensuring that what you specifically need to capture and manage can be defined.

Our philosophy has always been to allow all aspects of the product to be administrator/user configurable. This means power users can define new equipment types or download them from our website; there is no need to wait for a vendor to deliver the template.

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I know there are solutions out there from vendors that also supply hardware. Are you tied to a specific manufacturer?

No, we are 100% agnostic as to vendor and we value our neutrality. This neutrality means we are guaranteed to support the equipment you have today and allows you total freedom of choice when making future purchase decisions.

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Isn’t DCIM just about Power?

No! The infrastructure in a data center is far more than just the power and cooling. To make sensible decisions on server placement multiple factors need to be taken into account. These include: data connectivity, VLAN, rack space availability, POD details (if used), server configuration, device power needs, current power to the rack or row, future planned work in that rack and even what equipment is available in store rooms.

Purchasing a system that cannot view the data center holistically means spreadsheet management will continue for data other than power/cooling. This is not what we believe should be the goal of purchasing an infrastructure management system.

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Why do you use barcodes and RFID identification?

Neither technologies are ‘silver bullets’ but both are supported across our mobile platforms (where supported by the mobile hardware).

Fundamentally a barcode or RFID tag are doing the same job, allowing you to identify the item, and this is what we use them for – to allow you to instantly identify an item (or in some cases cable) and view that item on the mobile computer. Barcodes are by far the more popular as all significant assets are already barcoded by the manufacturer (serial numbers, MAC addresses, etc.)

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Is there any hardware that I have to install in my facilities to use Cormant-CS?

No, we don’t think that is a good idea. Most data center managers are overwhelmed with equipment to deploy without us making that worse. With our open C#/VB scripting we are able to talk to any networked device and this means we can gather environmental and other data directly from installed devices regardless of whether they are CDU power rails, switches or server blades.

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What about power calculations, what can Cormant-CS do?

In our experience, there are usually up to four power numbers that are useful for an infrastructure management team: plate power, plate power derated by an internal factor, current power drawn and historical power.

Cormant-CS is able to capture, store and represent all of these values for use in calculations and graphical representations of the data center.

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Cormant-CS Mobility/Portability

What mobility/portability do you offer?

Cormant-CS includes online applications (in the respective app stores) for the Android and Apple smartphone and tablet platforms and for the Blackberry smartphone. The online applications require access to the Cormant-CS server and also require a Wi-Fi or 3G (or greater) data connection. They are full read/write applications and are designed for information review and light change usage.

The main mobile application, for heavy day-to-day use, is Cormant-CS on Windows mobile devices with a built-in barcode or RFID scanner. These devices synchronize with the Cormant-CS server and work with a mobile database for complete off-line access to all data for full read/write access. The interface is richer and more complete than the online versions. It works offline because often in data centers and remote locations there is no online access option and that would mean no access to records, which we believe is unacceptable. We support devices from global suppliers such as Motorola (formally Symbol) and Intermec.

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Why is mobility/portability so critical to infrastructure management?

Mobility/Portability is critical for two key reasons the most important being – if changes are not recorded as they are made, it is likely that either the update will be made late, made inaccurately or often, not at all. This means that staff loses trust in the records and spends valuable time validating the data, which is not really the point of investing in an infrastructure management system.

The second reason why mobility/portability is important is so that staff have access to all the records when reviewing the infrastructure or troubleshooting a problem. Records stuck back on a desktop are useless to assist a user.

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Can you tell me more about the off line Cormant-CS mobile application?

It is best to see a demonstration (click here to arrange one), but in a nut shell it provides a similar UI to the desktop and web applications.

The mobile application supports create, read, update and delete of all information, plan views, rack views (including rack totals), asset and attribute data – including all connectivity, has full access to work orders and has an audit module for times when an audit maybe required. There is even a custom report writer for quick summary reports. It is designed to support all the day-to-day activity a user undertakes away from their desk.

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Managing the Infrastructure

What’s wrong with my spreadsheets? Why are they not enough?

Because a set of disconnected spreadsheets are not a management tool. They don’t record historical data and are limited in their ability to assist with planning change. Usually, multiple spreadsheets are managed by various people or departments and are silos of data with little sharing. Instead, the goal should be a single repository of infrastructure data that everyone can use and where all changes are seen by everyone who has permission.

Security is obviously important and therefore Cormant-CS supports user roles with access down to attribute level; something else that’s hard to do with spreadsheets.

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I have an existing site I’d like to get under control, can Cormant-CS help?

Yes, absolutely. With configurability, mobility and no special hardware to install, Cormant-CS is ideal for existing sites. Data can be imported from existing records and then audited against the live infrastructure to produce accurate, trusted records. Data can even be captured over time by your staff simply using the mobile computers daily.

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How does Cormant-CS helps manage a data center?

Cormant-CS has features specific to data centers including rack elevations and birds eye views of the data center. All of this is data driven and, from within Cormant-CS provides historical data, planned work data and information about power, heat, connectivity and space utilization.

Because this information is accurate and trusted it is useful when troubleshooting and will interface with systems such as NMS applications to provide location and deployment information.

Cormant-CS is also used to verify equipment has been deployed correctly using verification attributes that show when equipment was verified as ready for live use as well as who verified it.

After equipment is deployed, related power and environmental data can be gathered to provide a complete infrastructure picture.

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I have a large enterprise user base. How will Cormant-CS help me manage those users?

Cormant-CS can record building MDF/IDF locations, all equipment and connectivity, as well as distribution points that may be in floor locations. All desk and/or work-space equipment and even people/user data can be stored to ensure a complete picture of all assets is seen. This may include normally non connected devices such as Wi-Fi devices. When a user calls for support, having accurate asset data reduces support time and user frustration as support technicians have full information readily available.

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How is Cormant-CS going to help in a campus environment?

Beyond the usual data center and work-area functionality Cormant-CS also supports conduits and ‘pits and pipes’ for campus environments so all inter-building data can be recorded and represented. This can even include GPS coordinates from GPS equipped mobile devices.

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Nothing stands alone anymore. What API interfaces does Cormant-CS have?

Cormant-CS has a full read/write web services XML API. It provides secure access to all data. The Cormant-CS API is used as the sole access method for our own web and online mobile devices so you can be assured it is a real, robust working API.

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I need to manage my power and data infrastructure, my assets; the ability to auto-query/discover devices, create and manage work-orders, see historical data and monitor in real-time. Which of those can Cormant-CS help with?

All of them! Cormant-CS is ideally suited to provide an holistic view of all of these items with its significant flexibility in set-up and configuration it’s possible to.

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I want to define what data elements I store about my infrastructure. Does Cormant-CS let me?

Yes, Cormant-CS supports a fully user-configurable attribute system to allow anyone who uses Cormant-CS to define the data elements they want to store. Cormant-CS does not force pre-defined attributes on you.

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Does Cormant-CS limit what infrastructure I can manage?

No. While Cormant-CS is sold on a buy as you grow model, there is no limit to what can be managed within the license. Any asset you can imagine can be represented (we have seen some strange ones).

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I see you mention connectivity management. Why do I need to manage that?

Well, of course it’s up to you, but we believe that having visibility of what power and data connections are in place and are unused is a necessary part of the planning process for new equipment. If you have a system that can’t document the power and/or data channel (end-to-end) we believe you will often end up doing another physical audit.

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What graphical views does Cormant-CS offer?

We have dashboards for current and historical data that are configurable by user or role. We provide rack views; building, campus and data center plan views with overlays of current or historical data; and views of connectivity regardless of how long the channel maybe.

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Can Cormant-CS detect changes in network connectivity automatically?

Yes. Cormant-CS discovers new equipment as it is added and removed from the network and provides alerts when these changes occur. It can automatically update the location of an asset based on SNMP traps and stored connectivity information.

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Is Cormant-CS capable of audits?

Yes, we excel at audits. A Cormant-CS audit is as simple as scanning a barcode or tapping a Pocket PC screen. It is able to determine and report on discrepancies between the infrastructure recorded in Cormant-CS and the actual physical assets in the facility.

Different types of audits can be conducted on assets and infrastructure recorded in the database, and/or on connectivity records. Audits can be pre-scheduled and assigned to specific staff members if required.

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I need to see detailed historical data to assist in planning the future. Is this offered?

Yes, historical data is stored in a separate database (clearly it can get quite large) and you can define what to capture, how often and how much to keep with automatic purge functions provided. From there specific historical views can be combined and displayed for any part of the infrastructure.

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Can Cormant-CS interface with networked power strips and other monitoring systems?

Yes, the inbuilt C#/VB scripting can communicate to these types of devices using SNMP, WMI, XML or even command line.

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What reporting does Cormant-CS offer?

Cormant-CS has a report writer built into the application. This means reports can be written to provide exactly the information required. Once a report is written it is available via web links (no more shared location copies) and can be scheduled for export or email on a defined basis.

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Investment

How is Cormant-CS priced?

Cormant-CS is simply priced using a pricing model that allows you to grow your license over time and ensures that the larger the infrastructure being managed, the lower the unit price.

There is no charge for the number of mobile devices or users accessing Cormant-CS. The solution also comes complete – there are no additional modules to purchase, ensuring you understand the total price up-front.

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What services are offered for Cormant-CS?

Cormant and the Cormant-CS partner network are able to provide a full range of services from implementation planning, software set-up and configuration, through to auditing, process documentation and if need be, ongoing move management services.

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Is there training available?

Yes there are a full range of training courses available. Most often, the first one taken is a combined implementation training and workshop with the output being a post implementation process document that is used to guide the entire implementation and ensures that the final, implemented solution delivers exactly what you need.

Cormant-CS also has Administration/Configuration, User and Scripting courses that ensure all aspects of Cormant-CS are trained.

The training is usually conducted on a customer’s site.

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I’ve heard that implementing an IT Infrastructure Management solution can be expensive. Is that true of Cormant-CS?

There is no getting away from the fact that, regardless of who implements an IT Infrastructure Management solution, there is a cost involved. However, we believe that Cormant-CS provides the lowest costs to implement in the industry (not to mention the lowest ongoing run-costs).

Why do we believe we are such good value? The unique portability combined with very flexible imports, standard and scriptable discovery mean that data can be rapidly acquired. The Cormant-CS portability is a vital part of the implementation process as any changes to data that are required are made as they are identified in the infrastructure on the off-line handheld. They are recoded once and done. There is no double handling of paper updates as there are with many other systems. The Cormant-CS handheld includes a powerful audit module for quick, accurate audits.

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Technical

If I want to extend Cormant-CS can I?

We support scripting within Cormant-CS that can be written in VB/C# and even BAT type commands. These scripts allow customers to read/write to equipment accessible on the network, perform changes to internal data and also add custom ‘right click’ functionality to any piece of equipment to perform a function or launch a local program, such as Ping, SSH or https for device access.

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What are the technical requirements for deploying Cormant-CS?

Cormant-CS is windows based and supports Windows server 2003/2008 as well as SQL 2005/2008. A virtual machine is fine. Depending on infrastructure size a dual core, 4GB RAM machine and upwards is required. Cormant-CS supports SQL clusters for the database.

For the web application Cormant-CS supports IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera. Cormant-CS supports offline mobile devices from Motorola (Symbol) and Intermec (and others on request) and Apple, Android and Blackberry online devices.

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Are the off-line mobile devices Cormant-CS supports proprietary?

Not at all. Cormant-CS supports mobile devices from Motorola (formally Symbol) and Intermec. These are off-the-shelf devices and are used by companies around the world. Cormant-CS partners can supply the devices to you, but you can also purchase them off the shelf from multiple sources.

Most customers choose barcode reading devices as almost every asset has a barcode that can be read. RFID scanners are also supported for those customers who require that. This is usually when a customer is implementing a larger RFID project. For near field activity, barcodes are usually just as good as RFID, much cheaper and are, of course, ubiquitous.

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Installation and Support

Is there a support plan for Cormant-CS?

Yes Cormant offers an annual support plan that includes support desk access and all major and minor upgrades to the application so you stay up-to-date. All support plans include local partner access for support from people who are knowledgeable about your business.

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What support desk access does Cormant-CS offer?

We have 24 x 7 support access using toll-free numbers, IM and email.

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What other support tools does Cormant-CS offer?

Cormant has a secure web site that provides access to updated templates, icons and software releases as well as best practice tips.

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Will there be downtime when Cormant-CS is being installed?

No, not to your equipment. As Cormant-CS does not require any physical equipment to be installed anywhere in the infrastructure, there should be no downtime.

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Do I have to put barcodes on everything to make Cormant-CS work?

No. Barcodes are on almost every asset supplied to you already (think of serial numbers) so these can be used if desired. However, if you never used a single barcode, you would still be able to use all of the Cormant-CS application.

Some customers do barcode cables, or their vendors or cable manufacturers add the barcodes. This enables super easy tracking of connectivity channels, but it’s not required to support connectivity documentation.

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Is Cormant-CS actively developed and improved?

Yes, it continues to be developed as it has been for 10 years.

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I want a trial, how can I get that?

Contact us! After an initial consultation to ensure we can help you, we provide a cloud version of Cormant-CS and offer a local partner that can help you get the most out of a trial. Most trials are 2 to 4 weeks in duration and in that time you have access to a fully functional version of Cormant-CS.

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Can I configure Cormant-CS myself? Do I have to have help from anyone?

Yes, you can install and configure it yourself. There is an excellent installation guide. No part of the product requires Cormant configuration. However, we find that most customers are too busy with managing the “day-to-day” to actually find the time to do it all themselves. Cormant and our partner network offer both configuration and audit services in consultation with you to assist with configuring and ensuring information in Cormant-CS is accurate. Cormant and our partner network also offer training services.

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About Cormant and our Customers

Can you list some sample customers?

Yes, please click here for a partial list of customers. We are happy to provide reference customers during the evaluation process. Our customer base is diverse and includes multiple Fortune 100 companies, smaller specialist IT users and government, military, education and healthcare from around the world.

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What is Cormant’s company history?

Cormant have been developing and selling Cormant-CS world-wide for over 10 years. Our heritage and knowledge of IT Infrastructure Management is second to none in the industry. We focus exclusively on infrastructure and remain proudly independent.

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