How to Deploy Smart Data Centre Infrastructure Management

How to Deploy Smart Data Centre Infrastructure Management

Over the past decade, many organisations have deployed Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) platforms. This is software that captures the availability and performance metrics of the hybrid IT environment such as cloud infrastructure, servers, network devices, power and storage systems. 

These platforms monitor and collate the availability of IT infrastructure and provide utilisation metrics in real-time to help the IT and data centre operations teams manage the environment efficiently. DCIM can also reduce the amount of time used to manage assets and capacity, monitor performance and be proactive with detecting and managing infrastructure faults that cause downtime.

Fifteen years ago, companies selling DCIM platforms sold a great story and many organisations looked at these solutions as the silver bullet to the smart and efficient management of their data centre estates. The organisations made the investment, implemented the solutions and about six to twelve months after the implementation project was completed the reality kicked in: DCIM required a lot of resources and specialist skillsets to administer and maintain the database and keep the systems running. This was hard to manage, and the solution quickly became known as a black art. 

Many organisations went back to their vendor only to discover that more costly professional services would be needed to put things straight. It was difficult to convince the budget owner to spend more on a solution that did not deliver what was expected in the first place.

DCIM technology has taken huge steps in the past few years and many vendors are now offering operational features that can help you streamline and orchestrate your daily IT operations. These new platforms are starting a new era of monitoring platforms known as DNIO (Data Centre Network Infrastructure and Operations) DNIO is the next generation of DCIM and extends the solutions to provide a full suite of operational features. Here is a high-level overview of some of those key features. 

Integration with ITSM systems is a low hanging fruit to achieve quick wins from your technology services teams, some of the benefits are orchestration of asset discovery, database maintenance, and administration,
utilising the platform to detect failures to automate Incident ticket creation, planning adds, moves and changes, seamless updating of the CMDB (Asset Database) gives the operational teams the tools to respond quickly to business demands. Ultimately this keeps your services up and running and helps prevent that dreaded call from your customers telling you they have had an outage.

Automatic Solutions that have the capabilities to integrate with existing systems such as billing, building management, and enterprise resource management will help you maximize the payback and bring your teams together. All will be working from the same platform and have access to the same data, keeping it consistent and error-free.

Before starting an implementation, it’s best to obtain buy-in from other departmental stakeholders and collaborate to build the scope. This should start with day one requirements and developing a roadmap for future implementation phases. Often the IT and facility teams are detached, with their own priorities and completely different regimes when it comes to the management of the environment and the control measures used to minimize disruption in the event of maintenance or failure situations. The trick here is to get your teams talking and working closely together.

Integrate the solution with all aspects of the data centre IT and facility operations to give your teams a holistic view from one central place. The teams can work closely together to ensure the environment is tuned for the best performance, ensuring energy is managed efficiently by monitoring the IT loads and tuning cooling systems. IT infrastructure teams can be notified automatically when a critical facility outage is detected, triggering scripts that can orchestrate emergency operating procedures. This removes the need to rely on humans to make calculated decisions in stressful situations, which increases the risk of human error.

Infrastructure management platforms that support multi-site operations get really interesting. You can now start thinking outside of the data
centre and extend coverage to your offices and manufacturing plants, having the ability to monitor and manage all of the infrastructure from IT to the facility or physical security and IoT systems. This helps your business move into the smart buildings and achieve your green initiatives and reduce your carbon footprint by decreasing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

At Rahi Systems we have the ability to monitor and manage the full stack, including your metro and wide-area network connectivity that can all be viewed from one platform and a single pane of glass.

Finally, a key part of the success of your implementation is training the people who are going to use it. I have heard and experienced too many stories about staff not knowing how to use DCIM or even understanding why it is there. This results in a wasted solution that is forgotten and left on the shelf and replaced with another.

The biggest challenge is convincing the business to make the investment to improve your operations and mitigate risks. However, if you can gain buy-in from other departments and key stakeholders you will be able to collaborate and build a sustainable business and focus on what you do best, improving efficiency, managing costs and 
maximising the agility of the business.

The next decade of DCIM has arrived. Are you ready to take your organisation to the next level of smart efficiency? 

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About Scott Millmaker

Scott Millmaker is a highly passionate technology professional with a background in managing enterprise mission critical IT and Data Centre. With over 20 years working for global technology leaders started his career working for HP CDS (formally Granada Computer Services) in the late nineties, 10 years with Sun Microsystems in various roles from field service to leading a large team of site based multi-vendor systems engineers at Deutsche Bank’s London Data Centre estate, Scott’s passion drove him to learn Data Centre MEP design and operations, he moved in to a critical Data Centre Manager role at Logicalis in 2010 to lead DC operations where he gained deep knowledge and experience with managing the entire DC facility, working closing with key business stakeholders and customer engagements including sales and BAU activities, service availability risk management owning change control, and third party contractor management. Scott joined Rahi Systems in 2018 and leads sales engineering in the UK, he brings a wealth of experience and extremely well connected in the industry, in his spare time he enjoys spending time on personal IT and media projects, keeping active and caring for his family.

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