Why DCIM has Succeeded and Why has It Struggled?
Recent navel gazing about DCIM put me in mind of the Worst Predictions list curated on the Human Science wiki. It includes such gems as “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty.” The memorable “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” Or perhaps more appropriately, this: “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home,” spoken by Ken Olsen, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.
By the time you read this post, I’ll be taking a seat at an Uptime Institute panel session to discuss with other DCIM vendors both the success of the technology as well as its travails. There’s been a tendency to be downbeat about the subject. A recent blog – the real reasons why DCIM is failing –suggests that the fault lies partly with vendors for over-hyping, overly complex solutions; and partly with customers for not really understanding what exact challenges they were seeking to solve with data center management software.
And yet, it would be wrong to downplay the positive role which DCIM has played in bringing much needed improvements to the way data centers are being managed in the digital age. As someone who’s been at the coalface of DCIM solution development, I’ve spent a lot of time with users and have seen first-hand benefits brought about by monitoring facilities – a major step towards optimizing facilities; and understanding the physical location of devices – which customer feedback suggests is a primary source of value.
When we first launched our DCIM suite, having been through a process of extensive intelligence gathering, my personal expectation was that many companies would want the solution to support the greening of their data centers, or to reduce their energy costs and save money, or manage space, cooling and power capacity. These activities are being done daily using DCIM in facilities all over the globe, together with data center cost baselining and cost management.
It is true that the principal role of the data center manager is to keep the data center load powered reliably. Uptime is what creates value for the facility – show me the money! Downtime avoidance has been cited as a key benefit by many of our customers. Additionally, DCIM has brought gains to servicing and maintaining physical layer equipment optimally that has been most valued as people’s time was saved or utilized more productively.
I was encouraged to see a blog by Jeff Klaus of Intel discuss the outcomes from a recent survey “Insights and Benefits of a DCIM Solution Deployment.” Given the pronouncements of the doomsayers, Intel by contrast have recognized an 80% DCIM market penetration in the US and UK. What’s more, the research also confirms that data center managers predominantly deploy DCIM to solve manual, time intensive operations through automation.
While it might be argued that the DCIM market has not achieved the size and financial potential forecast by industry analysts, the technology is provenly being taken up and used. It may not have achieved full market penetration as yet, but it has steadily grown in use and usefulness. Not only that, larger DCIM vendors are committed to investing in its future. That’s simply because automation is key to managing data centers effectively as they grow in number and complexity. If you’d like to better understand the successes of DCIM, go speak to some existing users and get their perceptions personally. Any confident vendor will happily fix a meeting or two for you – call me?