DCIM, SDDC and the law of unforeseen consequences
Thu 27 Nov 2014
Soeren Jensen, Vice President of Enterprise Management and Software at Schneider Electric, considers solutions to the power struggle now taking place for control of the data centre – and even the definition of the processes by which it is run.
As Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) continues to evolve and develop to become an essential feature of the data centre management landscape, we may be in the process of seeing an unexpected outcome: DCIM applications may also be providing a series of stepping stones that bring facilities departments and data centre managers closer to being able to start taking over responsibility for data centre servers from their IT counterparts.
This is in part driven by a very real dilemma caused by the proliferation of virtualised servers; with IT more concerned about compute than computers, no one currently seems to have any real concern for the physical servers. Sure, IT departments are clearly focused on the applications and the services they’re providing to business via the data centre, but at the same time they are becoming less and less interested in the actual hardware which provisions them. In short, they’re happy as long as they have reliable compute, storage and network capacity for assured service delivery.
Given these circumstances, it would seem logical that the group best placed to step up and take responsibility for the physical servers are those people already responsible for their accommodation, power and cooling. In fact, some forward thinking businesses have already embarked on just such a journey with a new super-breed of data centre manager emerging.
However, in order to be successful the facilities organisation is going to need to acquire new skills and new software to understand how the server should be operating (as well as things like its optimum location and how it should be connected to the network).
This is potentially a very interesting paradigm shift. When DCIM applications started to be introduced to the market, there was a lot of talk about how this type of data centre management software would be the piece that finally bridged the gap between IT and facilities. But as territorial beings, some concern was expressed at the time that DCIM would bring physical infrastructure under the control of IT, since they were the ones that ran the applications. However, it turns out that DCIM may be bringing data centre servers under the influence of facilities departments – the very antithesis of what many predicted would happen.
As the facilities department expands its remit, moving up the technology stack, IT is also moving up as services become more abstracted from the whole physical side of the data centre. All this may eventually be seen as a natural evolution towards the Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC) – with DCIM enabling the hypervisor to optimise decisions about the efficiency and resilience of workloads located in data centre, and providing a key role in how the data centre of tomorrow will operate.