IMS Research article on DCIM

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Not to be Forgotten: Implementation Services – A Key to DCIM Adoption – by Senior Analyst, Liz Cruz 

On my second day at AFCOM’s Data Center World show in Las Vegas, it’s clear that DCIM is still the number one hot topic in the industry. I would say that for the last three shows, in fact, DCIM is the top thing on everyone’s mind. At the first session of Tuesday’s show, Paul Goodison, the CEO of Cormant, Inc. gave a presentation on “The Who, What, Where, How and Why on DCIM.” He stressed one point in particular that stood out to me: the importance of implementation services when purchasing a DCIM solution, which at 25-50 percent of the cost of the software, is not something to be forgotten.

The cost (both in terms of time and money) of actually implementing the DCIM solution is not always considered when purchasing a DCIM solution. In order to reap the benefits of DCIM, the set-up of the tool is key. Implementation requires a number of steps: the first being to load the asset data (servers, UPS, PDUs, etc.) into the system. This assumes that the company currently has an accurate record of this information, which is often not the case, and one of the drivers to purchasing a DCIM solution in the first place. If the information does not exist, then either the DCIM software provider, a third-party, or a customer’s own time will be required to do a full audit on the data center. As Goodison pointed out, it’s a big myth that auto discover is going to handle this for the customer; it is “at best a validation tool, it’s not going to document most of your physical infrastructure, especially where things are.”  This first, and what is seemingly a basic step, is essential to the future performance of any DCIM tool. A DCIM solution is only as good as the quality of the information put into it. If it has faulty data on server utilization or asset information, then the DCIM usefulness is immediately compromised.

In addition to loading asset data, there also needs to be installation of the necessary sensors, additional hardware and the software itself. The DCIM software must also be integrated into existing building management systems (BMS) and IT service management (ITSM) tools, and with software associated with existing hardware from PDU’s, UPS, etc. Training on the tool and creation of meaningful reports is key in ensuring all parties are properly updating the tool in the future and also getting actionable information out if it (which will guarantee continued use and in turn, continued accurate inputs.)

All of these steps are not only time intensive, but also require specific skills and expertise. In other words, the implementation of DCIM software is not something that customers can take on for themselves, which turns out to be somewhat contrary to popular belief. The cost of implementation is significant, at 25-50% the price of the software, it’s a piece of the DCIM solution that must be considered and anticipated. The worst thing that can happen for the DCIM movement, is that companies do invest in the DCIM software, but skimp on the implementation services, and therefore never find value in the tool. I would say that purchase of implementation services is one of the most critical steps to DCIM adoption and market success.