DCIM Helping Managing Critical IT Infrastructure in the Current Pandemic

By: Paul Goodison

I have been speaking to our global customers about the operational changes they have introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve also had the opportunity to hear a few analysts speak on best practices for data center operations during this time.

The universal approach appears to be keeping as many staff as possible away from the site, working remotely and leveraging onsite smart hands when available. Where team members do have to attend site, managers are ensuring social distancing and maintaining the smallest number of people working in the raised floor space possible. From a hygiene perspective, either in-house or external cleaning services are being used to clean and protect work areas regularly, and at least every shift. There does not appear to be any consensus on what, if any, cleaning to conduct inside the data center.

Our customers have told us how much help their DCIM solution has been during this disruption. It is enabling them to manage their data centers, co-location, and IOT sites while minimizing the need for physical access. One customer told us about automating what used to be a manual task of cycling power to a (dual-powered) server. This is usually a manual unplug process, as there are no trusted records of what PDU sockets a device is plugged in to. But with trusted, mobile captured connectivity records, devices outlets are cycled remotely from within DCIM, saving a person traveling to a site. Working to an incredibly tight deadline a healthcare trust who uses DCIM recently used Cormant-CS to manage the deployment of all the IT infrastructure to a new, pop-up, hospital that was constructed inside a convention center. All the equipment deployment and data outlet connectivity were planned, tracked and deployed to ensure everything was going to work the first time.

We have also seen customers use more of their DCIM then they have before. While using Cormant-CS to plan change is, pretty much, standard practice, not every customer uses the workflow engine. Workflow tasks help automate the planning process and allow for remote collaboration around the server, network, storage, infrastructure and facilities teams. By getting this right, down to the connections and even cables to use, some customers have been able to reduce the number of people that have to touch devices being deployed, reducing the potential infection risk to staff and the enterprise risk that is present if key personnel have to isolate and can’t work. It’s not just the deployment part that is easier with DCIM, directing smart hands, managing equipment receiving, knowing where equipment is and accessing it directly, is all much easier, and involves less physical interaction, when data is available on everyone’s smartphone and devices can be checked with just a barcode scan.

I’m proud of how Cormant-CS is keeping people safe, enterprises operational, and lowering the risk for both parties. One comment I received was, “I didn’t realize how much we relied on the data in Cormant DCIM until I had to work remotely, it’s been invaluable”.

If we can help you work better, please let me know. Cormant is fully operational, and with our remote deployment practices, we can get your data in a single repository quickly.

Stay Safe

Cormant DCIM Mobility Makes Asset Audits Work

In this blog post, Brad Beamish, Director of Consulting Services for Cormant, reviews why auditing is an essential part of a successful DCIM deployment.

The Equipment Validation Challenge

Cormant routinely manages DCIM deployments for customers where Cormant DCIM replaces an existing tool set for managing IT infrastructure.  In many cases, the current system (often spreadsheets and sometimes home-grown DB’s and other DCIM solutions) contains a partial record set of questionable accuracy.  Cormant works with customers to extract all usable data from the existing records. However, there will always be questions about the overall completeness and accuracy of the data.  When merging multiple data sources, floorplans and rack views, there are likely to be conflicts between the data sources and questions that only a physical visit to the rack can answer. This physical validation process takes effort but Cormant has refined unique online and offline mobility features over the past 17 years ensuring the validation can be completed quickly and accurately.

Asset Validation

Asset Validation should be an essential part of migrating data from customer data sources into a DCIM solution.  Existing records are usually partially accurate and provide a great starting place for DCIM deployments. However, the ultimate trust in the accuracy of the DCIM records can only be fully realized by physically validating every asset. The validation assures not only accurate asset data, but capacity data and, where required, power and data connectivity data.

Cormant Mobility Makes Validation Work

To audit the physical infrastructure, where possible Cormant leverages barcoded assets (most equipment has a barcode) with Cormant’s unique online and offline mobility. Cormant-CS supports the use of smartphones, tablets, and all-in-one Windows® and Android® barcode enabled mobile computers

Mobility gives the validation team complete freedom to physically stand in front of each rack and lookup or scan the barcode of each asset.  Once an asset is found, the user is presented with the existing data set for the asset.  Any physically observable data can be updated, things like RU location and Mounting Type.  Barcoded data can be easily scanned in if missing, like Serial Numbers or Asset tags. Newly found assets can be added using the same process.

Once the user updates and accepts the on-screen data, the asset’s Validation Date attribute is stamped with today’s date.   The screen is cleared, and the next asset is scanned, this is repeated until all assets have been scanned and validated. Key to this process is a one-touch per asset approach and once the data is verified or updated, it is available in the Cormant DCIM system with a record of who made the changes and when.

Once all racks are visited, the assets that still have no Validation Date stamped can be considered to be Missing Assets and moved to a holding space.

Cormant usually finds many new assets as part of this work, immediately improving the project’s ROI. The found rate varies, but is often in the 20 – 35% range, usually quite a surprise for the data center operator.

Validation Counters

To allow for easy tracking of the validation efforts, Asset Validation counters are configured at the Rack, Row and Site levels of the infrastructure and record;

  • Total Assets
  • Total Assets Unvalidated
  • Total Assets Validated

Rack totals are aggregated to the Row and then the Data Center to give an overall picture of the total assets and the total number of Validated/Unvalidated assets within the site.

Reporting

Validation count attributes are stored historically so that Project Managers and customers can track the progress of the validation process.  Historical reports detailing the Total Assets vs. the Total Assets Validated can offer insight to validation progress and the accuracy of the imported records set, clearly illustrating the number of assets that were missing and need to be added as part of the validation process.

In the example below, we started with 1,200 known assets and zero validated, but completed with a little over 1,600 assets, an approximate accuracy of initial data of 66%.

Conclusion

It is important to realize that a point in time audit is useless if the data are not kept up-to-date. Using a combination of Cormant workflow and the same mobility used in the audit, an ongoing change management process that captures future changes as they occur is simple to implement.

The crucial element provided by Cormant-CS is real-time access to all of the data, all of the time, for both read, update, and create. If a change is made, it is recorded at the same time. This provides a closed-loop change process and means users trust the Cormant-CS DCIM, which means it gets used. We look forward to discussing how we can help you migrate to Cormant-CS. Click here to be contacted.

Cormant fully operational during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

To: All Global Customers and Partners

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has probably affected you, your family, and your company. Our thoughts are with anyone directly affected by the virus. While the Coronavirus has presented some challenges for us here at Cormant, no one has contracted the virus amongst our global workforce and their families.

Over the past few weeks, I have been in contact with Cormant managers around the world to ensure Cormant can continue all operations. The good news is because of our highly-distributed global workforce, many staff already worked remotely. Where that was not true, we have arranged for team members to work from home and are providing additional equipment and services to allow them to do so effectively. All employees have worked remotely since, at the latest, Monday this week. Remote working not only helps Cormant provide services to you, our valued customers and partners, but allows employees to care for family and children who are likely not in school.

We know how vital Cormant-CS is in keeping your critical infrastructure running. I want to assure you that Cormant remains fully open to serve you, with twenty-four hour a day problem support, our full range of professional services, and continued software development. We are fully operational and expect to remain so. Everyone in the company has access to a full range of web conferencing services, collaboration tools, and telephone access. Do forgive us if an interaction with us has a dog or child in the background!

Please do let me know if any of us can do anything to help.

Stay safe,

Cormant GlobalPaul Goodison
CEO

DCIM Made Easy is the Topic of Conversation in the latest Cormant-CS Case Study Titled, “Small Team, Big Results”

Our newest Cormant case study titled “Small Team, Big Results”, is now available, showcasing the implementation and deployment process of Cormant-CS at an American-based global data analytics and risk management firm serving customers worldwide in insurance, energy, financial services and other specialized markets by providing data analytic insights to help make better more focused decisions that minimize risk and maximize value.

Cormant-CS was selected by the company after a thorough DCIM market evaluation and a key decision criteria was how straightforward and easy to use it was. The measured annual ROI for the project was approximately $70,000, including a saving of staff time estimated to be 1,300 hours per year.

As the customer project leader said, “Cormant-CS won’t solve the world’s problems but it certainly has solved our data center infrastructure management problem. This was DCIM made easy!” Gus, Data Center Manager.

 

Discover the Cormant Difference HERE

Fixed Price Projects

Director of Professional Services, Brad Beamish, discusses Cormant’s Guaranteed Price Project Solution.

To reduce the perception customers have that DCIM deployments are complex, uncertain and excessively long Cormant has been quoting many DCIM deployment projects recently with guaranteed pricing.  … Read more →

Cormant-CS Delivers Power Management Capabilities

The latest release of the Cormant-CS DCIM solution now includes additional out-of-the-box support for real time power and environmental queries.  With queried data available in Cormant-CS, users can configure reports, dashboards and alerts based on the desired threshold.  … Read more →

A View from Data Center Worlds – USA and UK

In March various members of the Cormant team presented Cormant DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) at Data Center World San Antonio, TX, USA and Data Center World London, UK. Over two days at each event we met, literally, hundreds of people and had some great conversations. The DCIM (and beyond) interest at both shows was greater than we have previously seen, and in many cases those conversations were with people who already knew why they want DCIM. … Read more →

What I Have Come to Understand About DCIM

A personal note from Steve Allegretti.

2017 was another learning year for me in the world of DCIM.   All of the private companies I spoke with last year had the same basic challenges of:

  • Optimizing Asset Management
  • Efficiently Monitoring Power and Environmental Factors
  • Creating Relevant Alerts
  • Change Management Best Practices
  • Streamlining Report Functionality

Read more →