PUE and DCIM session at Data Centre World 2013

Last week I had the pleasure to present at Data Centre World on the topic of DCIM and PUE, featuring a case study about one of our customers, Options Technology.  I was fortunate to be joined in this by John Bryant (CTO) and Glenn Selby (Data Centre Manager) from Options.  They talked about their experience of using InSite to improve the way they run Options’ global data centre estate of 22 sites.  The session was well attended and, if you were there, thank you for coming.  You can find the case study here. There was a lively Q&A session and afterwards one of the delegates came up to talk to about me a particular slide which he said he really liked.  As a data centre developer and colo operator, he said this captured the essence of how he sees the market, too, so I wondered if others might feel the same:- 

During the presentation, I used this slide to describe AdInfa’s particular view of the data centre world.  To an innovative and entrepreneurial software business, this looks to be a very attractive landscape in many ways: large, global, growing, fragmented, facing substantial issues.  In fact, whilst data centre designs and scale may vary, they share several issues such as:-

  • steadily, if not rapidly, increasing levels of complexity due to the nature of the equipment within them and the demands placed on them by the businesses they are part of;
  • escalating costs of powering them since the unit price of electricity is only going in one direction;
  • and increasing amounts of power being consumed as ICT equipment is packed in more densely and ever more powerful equipment is deployed in ever increasing numbers.

To counter this, most data centre managers face demands to reduce overall energy consumption whilst maintaining uptime and increasing efficiency levels and capacity utilization.  And these factors are not just the domain of IT and facilities but are gaining significant attention from business executives, too.  All three of these constituents demand access to information at will and they have different information requirements, yet want to simplify and consolidate how data is gathered and information is presented to them.  No-one wants to look at six different management systems to see what is going on when they can go to one portal and get what they need on demand.  So we develop our InSite software to deliver great value for money, to be easy to use, to be scalable and to be very flexible in how it gathers data in a multi-vendor, multi-protocol environment and how it presents actionable information to its different users.  Very importantly, we focus on making InSite practical use.

A lot of DCIM products tend to be very complicated to set up and maintain and it is easy to get the impression that you need to be very sophisticated to be able to use them and you need to have a very sophisticated data centre environment to benefit from them.  Put another way, you need to have deep pockets, a large enough car park for the consultants who will be pouring in to provide the professional services needed to get things looking like they did in the demos, and plenty of time.  But I don’t think it needs to be that way for most facilities.  For many, the needs are relatively straightforward – at least in concept – and typically revolve around power and the related infrastructure.  Bear in mind that, according to recent surveys, most data centres do not have any automated infrastructure monitoring in place but rely on clipboards for manual meter readings and spreadshseets for assets.  Yet oftentimes there is equipment (e.g. PDUs, power strips, UPS etc) in place that could yield a lot of valuable data if it was leveraged.  So that tends to be our start point – showing how InSite can leverage the infrastructure that someone has already invested in.  And getting things up and running quickly – in hours rather than days.

DCIM software is capable of many things and, when it comes to adoption rates,  technology often leads the users’ willingness and appetite to trust it to deliver automatically and reliably.  That position evolves over time as adoption rates grow beyond the pioneers.  The key is to make a start because such a valuable, business-critical asset as a data centre needs to optimised – it needs to be metered, monitored, measured and managed.

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