Data Center Power, DCIM Systems and the age of the API
DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) software tools abound with new companies jumping into the market almost monthly. Some companies come into the picture, disappear and reappear again like some third rate magic show at the downtown Ramada Inn. The venture funding continues to flow funds full blast as the “numbers” look too good to pass up on the product that moving forward every Data Center must have. We know DCIM is coming as the value is clear. Some would argue that it is already here, but from what I currently see in the market, adoption rates are much slower than expected. I think that the slower than expected adoption rates are due to the myriad of solutions that are currently in the market and the time and effort it takes the customer to first identify what is important to them and then review each DCIM application based on their goals. It is clear that not all DCIM applications are created equal with each solution having its own strengths and weaknesses.
Looking at the different areas within the Data Center and the number of challenges that IT and Facilities have (I think that the 451 Group breaks the different areas and requirements down quite well, see Figure 1);
A) IT Asset Management, Change Management, ITIL CMDB (Configuration Management Data Base)
B) DC Capacity Management, Change Management, DCCMDB
C) Network and Systems Management, Power Monitoring Management
D) Power and Environmental Monitoring and Alerting
Figure 1, Data Center and IT Management Software, the 451 Group
It is easy to see that a one size fits all DCIM solution simply isn’t possible as each one of these different areas has unique requirements. The DCIM promise to cut costs, reduce downtime and automate network planning, implementation and operational tasks and typically hinges on four key capabilities;
1) Infrastructure Management (means different things to different systems/users)
2) Environmental monitoring/optimization
3) Power consumption monitoring and control
4) Intelligent physical layer infrastructure management
DCIM solutions are the key to help bring together key information required to maintain uptime, increase efficiency and provide the overall ability to manage and monitor today’s Data Center. However, it is hard to develop, maintain, and support one system that is all things to everybody within the Data Center. To accomplish this goal, many DCIM systems today take advantage of the expertise and information available from other already existing systems within that Data Center using API (Application Programming Interface) to provide that “single pane of glass” view that customers require.
These APIs are typically xml-based using industry standard tools like SOAP and REST. They allow the existing systems to provide greater value at the device level specific to those products or devices that they support. They also allow key information that they collect, like power and environmental information, to be provided to the DCIM systems located at the top of the chain.
APIs are now a huge part of diverse systems and devices securely sharing information in a number of different industries. In fact 60% of all logins for the hugely popular site www.salesforce.com are done through APIs with only 40% through traditional browsers. While the age of the DCIM system is upon us I also believe that the age of the API is also upon us within the Data Center. The DCIM suppliers that take advantage of these tools will certainly come out on top as this technology matures.