Data center infrastructure management is complex. It encompasses servers, storage, networking, applications, the cloud, cooling, heating, humification, electrical, other building systems, support for virtualization, and much more. Managing all that efficiently is the job of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) systems.
What is DCIM?
DCIM ensures the data center has high availability, operates with energy efficiency, properly utilizes capacity, predicts future needs, and operates within budget. DCIM tools provide commonality between all aspects of the data center. Instead of one team managing IT and another managing building facility systems such as heating, cooling, and humidity control, such systems are an attempt to bring everything under one umbrella.
Gartner’s definition of DCIM is that it consists of tools designed to monitor, measure, manage, and control utilization and energy consumption of servers, storage, and networking gear as well as facility infrastructure components, such as power distribution units (PDUs) and computer room air conditioners (CRACs). Older systems don’t stray too far into building management systems (BMS). However, that is changing as the worlds of IT and operational technology (OT) converge.
The Benefits of DCIM
Traditionally, such systems operated on-premises. But increasingly cloud-based DCIM tools have entered the scene. They provide many benefits, which include:
- Monitoring and alerting on the many aspects of data center operations
- Moving maintenance from a reactive to a proactive or predictive stance where failures are caught before they cause disruption
- Guidance on need for spares
- Turning raw analytics into customized recommendations to boost performance and lower maintenance costs
- The ability to correlate and integrate building systems with IT systems despite them utilizing very different protocols
- Tracking and trending data from a multitude of sensors throughout IT and building systems
- Bringing a higher degree of automation and digitalization to the data center
- Prevention of outages
- The ability to query and search all infrastructure elements and dynamically generate rack configurations
- View power loads and thresholds
Also read: Best Data Analytics Tools & Software 2021
Key DCIM Features
The features of DCIM systems vary from vendor to vendor. Those originating in the BMS side of the house tend to favor those systems. As a result, they tend to be lighter on IT management functionality. Similarly, many IT management tools focus on server and systems management and may struggle to integrate with building systems. But the divide is shrinking. Particularly in the cloud DCIM space, the latest generation of products is successfully crossing the chasm that once existed behind IT and facilities management.
Key features for DCIM include many of the following:
- Enterprise monitoring and event management
- IT operations analytics
- IT Service Management (ITSM) integration
- Monitoring infrastructure resources across a multi-cloud environment
- Integration between building and IT systems, at least from a data perspective if not from a control perspective
Top DCIM Vendors
Enterprise Networking Planet reviewed a great many DCIM vendors to find those best suited to offering DCIM for the data center. In our selection, we favored those providing cloud functionality. Here are our top picks, in no particular order:
Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT Software & Digital Services offers monitoring, planning, modeling, and digital services to help businesses mitigate and anticipate the risk of failures, receive insights and recommendations, and optimize infrastructure performance across the lifecycle of devices. It comes in three different flavors—IT Expert, Asset Advisor, and IT Advisor.
- EcoStruxure IT Advisor provides insights via a planning and modeling platform
- EcoStruxure Asset Advisor offers Schneider Electric Service Bureau expert services to monitor IT assets 24/7
- EcoStruxure IT Expert offers visibility through a cloud-based monitoring platform
- The EcoStruxure software platform is at the core of Schneider Electric’s broad IT and OT portfolio, thus it integrates well with a host of electrical and monitoring systems
- As well as providing data and visibility through software, it provides actionable information to run the data center more efficiently
- 24/7 monitoring and dispatch with on-site remediation is offered
- The EcoStruxure software platform offers custom integration, reports, and dashboards
- The EcoStruxure software platform provides a holistic view of the entire IT portfolio, from collocation to hyperscale and from enterprise data centers and network edge
Panduit SmartZone Cloud Software is a cloud-native solution that takes advantage of cloud extensive flexibility and scalability to manage data center, enterprise, and edge infrastructures. It supports the management, monitoring, control, and alerting of power, environmental, cooling, security, assets, and connectivity.
- Secure cloud-based platform with encryption on data at rest and in transit, two-factor authentication, access control, and security-focused development lifecycle and hardened with Web application security scanning and assessment tools
- Vendor agnostic but tightly aligned with Panduit SmartZone G5 Intelligent PDUs to visualize rack-level power, environment, and cabinet physical security access along with IT and facility assets
- Single pane of glass that offers a holistic view of data center resources
- In addition to floor plan layout and rack elevation, power path visualization enables operators to identify single points of failure, reduce overprovisioning, and assess risk
- Provides visual representation of asset attributes, connectivity, space availability, and power/environment resources
- Licensed by floor-mounted asset with unlimited users and locations
BMC Helix Operations Management with AIOps uses service-centric monitoring, advanced event management, root cause isolation, and intelligent automation to improve performance and availability. It is cloud-ready—able to monitor the health and performance of infrastructure and application resources across a multi-cloud environment.
- AIOps, analytics, and machine learning allows for ingesting, analyzing, and managing large volumes of operational data
- Event collection and correlation to analyze large numbers of events and group them (situations) to reduce event noise and provide visibility to the underlying cause of issues found
- Probable cause analysis and root cause isolation offer proactive, automated determination of root cause across business services
- Monitor business services and visualize status using heat maps and tile views
- Out of the box adapters to ingest metrics, events, and topologies from third-party solutions
- Trigger events and notifications based on abnormal behavior
- Identify opportunities for automation and automation brokering to take corrective action
- Integrate with ITSM for automated ticket creation, enrichment, and routing
- Works with the common data store and BMC Helix Discovery data for visibility to infrastructure, relationships, and services
Nlyte Platinum DCIM is an end-to-end system for the entire physical computer infrastructure including data center, collocations, and edge computing. It automates the management of all assets, resources, processes, and people.
- IT teams can monitor energy usage and receive alerts when thresholds are exceeded.
- Helps with data center design and infrastructure planning
- Monitor the performance of existing assets over time and measure them against established benchmarks
- Power and space capacity management
- Workflow automation
- Support for goods receiving, provisioning, changes, tech refresh, and decommission
- Facilitates timely onboarding of equipment at the time of receiving through the decommissioning of older equipment
- Extend the adoption of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) into the data center
- Unlock unused and under-utilized workload, space, and energy capacity
- Forecast and predict the future state of data center physical capacity based on consumption management
- “What if” models forecast the capacity impact of data center projects on space, power, cooling, and networks
Device42 offers visibility into the data center and the cloud, from infrastructure and IaaS discovery to data center floor and rack diagrams and power consumption.
- Can feed assets to ITSM ticketing systems and drive automated provisioning
- Data center management
- CMDB maintenance
- Audit and compliance
- ITSM integration
- Automated provisioning
- Reduce manual documentation time and compliance risk
- Agentless and automatic discovery of all IT assets, including physical, virtual, and cloud components
- SNMP, IPMI, RedFish, and Cisco UCS discovery
- AWS, Azure, GCP, and Oracle as well as container discovery for Docker and Kubernetes
InCommand offers control over IT infrastructure and provides insights to drive capacity planning, change management, life cycle management, and efficiency in day-to-day operations. It takes all physical assets in IT, facility, and data center environments and presents them as a virtualized service.
- Creating management consistency and process and staff discipline through InCommand services, providing data, agility, and financial efficiencies
- InCommand combines a portal with clarified processes and a team to help enterprises gain control over their IT and facilities infrastructure
- Deployment and operations oversight
- Workflow administration
- Accurate IT infrastructure records
- Utilization metrics and KPIs
- Recommended actions to maximize efficiency
- Server asset life cycles
- Cable management
ZPE’s Nodegrid Manager provides multi-vendor DCIM access and control for physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructure. It offers open, vendor-neutral network management for console servers, PDUs, IPMI appliances, and many other aspects of data center infrastructure.
- 96-port serial console
- Modular, all-in-one services router
- Access and control for all physical and virtual IT assets
- Runs in a Virtual Machine, which scales with the size of the cloud
- Supports service processors, storage, network, and power appliances from multiple hardware vendors
- Tunneling capability through firewalls
LogicMonitor is an automated, cloud-based infrastructure monitoring and observability platform for enterprise IT and managed service providers. The agentless platform helps with the digitalization of applications and data center infrastructure.
- Includes more than 2,000 pre-built integrations with physical equipment as well as cloud environments
- Close integration with Cisco ACI and VMWare vCenter enables native monitoring of server, storage, and databases
- Provides IPFix, Netflow, and Syslog ingestion
- Alert management and ServiceNow integration promote automated incident management workflows
- Monitor cloud, on-premises and hybrid environments in a single platform
- Analyze logs and surface anomalies to reduce mean time to resolution (MTTR)
- Monitor and alert on applications, hardware, and OS metrics
- Perform on-the-spot service checks and enable synthetic transactions
- Monitor Kubernetes pods, nodes, containers, and other components
- Ensure your remote workforce has access to the tools they need to maintain business continuity