What does the future hold for DCIM, and can it fulfill its potential?

PTS Senior Consultant, Stephen Bowes-Phipps, gives his view for the July 21 edition of Inside Networks.

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Introduction


By helping Data Centre managers monitor, manage, automate and optimise their IT estates, DCIM can enhance energy efficiency, save money, assist with the deployment of new equipment, and optimise moves, adds and changes. While this all sounds positive, after over a decade of development DCIM is still a controversial topic.

From the very beginning, DCIM promised much but often delivered little. Many DCIM systems were not correctly commissioned, leading to inaccurate monitoring and poor decision making, while DCIM vendors didn’t clearly define the solution. This led to expensive implementations that often failed to deliver a true return on investment (ROI).

So what does the future hold for DCIM and can it fulfil its potential?

We look at PTS’s view, written for the July 21 issue of Inside_Networks Network Infrastructure E-Magazine.

What does the future hold for DCIM, and can it fulfill its potential?


Just the term ‘DCIM’ alone causes arguments within the data centre sector. Viewed from a mechanical and electrical (M&E) perspective, DCIM often works very nicely, particularly if it’s working with equipment. Viewed from an IT perspective, DCIM seems to be a troublesome, expensive tool that is poorly integrated with the ubiquitous IT single pane of glass. If a facilities manager has a Building Management System (BMS), DCIM offers little more and is harder to configure and maintain.

The challenge for those responsible for data centre and IT systems is to demonstrate the value to both parties of purchasing and maintaining a DCIM solution. And this is the issue that has been ongoing for the last 15-20 years.

I have seen some excellent DCIM set-ups that are purchased, focused and updated (expensively) for the M&E side with little or no regard for the IT. I have rarely seen DCIM used with the same degree of functionality, integration and value that allows both IT and facility departments to understand the performance between IT and M&E equipment, and the impact on data centre costs, operations and efficiency.

DCIM needs to become the go-to tool when the whole ‘system’ — facilities, IT equipment, applications and networks — must be understood, tuned and reported on. Why is this important? Because in order to demonstrate real ROI for DCIM, data centre stakeholders need to combine their requirements and build a system that integrates across all critical components. Keeping initial requirements simple and integrating the system fully into change management processes are both vital to long-term success.

The next logical step is to integrate across data centres that are also virtual and remote. DCIM providers need to work closely with plant and equipment providers across the industry, as well as IT infrastructure manufacturers, to ensure widespread standards-based connectivity for the plethora of systems and devices within data centres.

DCIM is never going to replace the proprietary tools that IT systems managers use, but it can be a useful additional data source, which demonstrates a combined value across data centre IT systems and M&E.

“Viewed from an IT perspective, DCIM seems to be a troublesome, expensive tool that is poorly integrated with the ubiquitous IT single pane of glass.”

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