DCIM: what are the complementarities with ITSM practice? (Part 2)

By Laurent Duenas, July, 12th 2013 


Part 1 have presented what DCIM is, what supports its expansion, and what are the principal functions and benefits 


Introduction to DCIM (suite)


New constraints

Few years ago, power consumptions and cooling concerns were not as important as today’s. The over-sizing of infrastructure and physical space let Data Center to host new machines without any impact on live environment. Today, physical servers are permanently used at more than 80% of their capacity. Previously their use was 5 to 15 % average and in most cases dedicated to one application. Physical machine density and power consumption have been multiplied by 10 or by 20. Hotspots and power supply outage, consequent to this concentration, become a very risk of IT Service failure. Data Center personnel need assistance in anticipating risks which are difficult to foresee.


Facilities consumption must also be optimized. Change going by the time, Data Center operations personnel must reconsider some of their design or settings in order to avoid energy waste. The Data Room lay-out must be re-arranged by closing areas and/or reducing cool-air flow distances. They also have to re-think the dynamic resource allocation and fan-speed regulation rules. Here again, DCIM provides a good topology knowledge and makes simulation mandatory to design Data Center changes on rigorous facts approach.


Job and organization change as well

As management complexity increases, the operations of the Data center must become specialized and adaptive to this environment. DCIM supports this evolution through repositories, monitoring consoles, analysis dashboard and leaving no information out of control. DCIM is modernizing its operations to the point where they become an expertise-domain in itself. Data Center roles continue to distinguish themselves from other IT jobs. This is accentuated by the fact that companies are investing less in “iron” and more in “soft” assets more applicable to their business needs (such as applications, ERP, and data). As for them, Data Centers transform themselves into Infrastructure Services Operators in Cloud mode. Most of them are transitioning to a more externalized unit.

This evolution forces IT departments to know how to work with the new profile of their Data Center partner. They have to reconsider their own delivery models and adapt their processes, tools, and repositories, to those of their partner. IT departments have to re-assess and to extend their ITSM best-practices – they have invested in during years – to the new Data Center management practice, in order to take advantage of the powerful capabilities provided by the DCIM. 


Data Centers are self-managed

One of the major evolutions in Data Center management is the level of industrialization of operation. According to activity and workload forecasts, as to real-time change of situation, DCIM software and Hypervisors exchange the required information to take automatic decisions for resource allocation and regulation. Those decisions are based on policies set-in these systems and need no human intervention.

Simplicity in management provided by these tools is undeniable; but it raises a question of consistency and alignment to service objectives being applied at a global IT Service level. These are defined in ITSM. Without strategic and common tactical plans, there is no guarantee the IT organization will be able to meet the expectations of their customers. It’s becomes essential that DCIM and ITSM practices are implemented in a closely manner.

Market players are getting closer

Historically, and this is still valid today, DCIM players come from Facilities infrastructure vendors or specialists in designing and/or arranging Data Center construction. The formers have developed software for their own equipment management (monitoring, capacity control, and much other functionality). The latters have been specialized in graphical representation of Data room, 19"- rack implantation, connectivity points (power or network), cooling flows, etc. For both, tools have evolved to allow for the integration of IT physical machines (as servers, network switches, storage cabins, etc.) to become the global repository for all equipment installed into a Data Center.


More recently, ITSM software editors’ interest has shifted towards Facility equipment, including all major players in the industry. Their initial skills on lifecycle management of IT components (such as change requests, incident management, etc.) naturally bring them to be wide open to Facility infrastructure. This new capability extends their ability to manage all the end-to-end chain of components entering in the IT Service delivery. However, piloting and automated functions for this specific infrastructure cannot equal to those from original Facilities vendors.

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