Why DCIM real-time data collection and monitoring is giving power back to operators
Thu 28 Jul 2016
Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) must step out of the shadows to demonstrate its positive capabilities for both data centre operators and customers – and suppliers must help demolish the negativity that has developed around the acronym due to ineffective and poorly implemented monitoring systems.
Power is an essential commodity in the data centre, and achieving a balance between running and cooling IT operations can create major challenges for data centre operators. However, understanding this balance and how to maintain it provides the basis for enhanced operator return on investment (ROI). Over-provisioning has always been a belt-and-braces response to the need for data centre resilience, but permits waste into the system, resulting in unnecessary expenditure.
Too little capacity can increase the risk of unplanned downtime and reduce the resilience, so crucial in the modern data centre. However, Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) providers have been guilty of delivering only broad and often ill-defined systems and deployments, which frequently lack a defined development path. This has to some extent tainted the DCIM message, which, if delivered and implemented successfully, can provide clear and defined benefits to the operator and customers.
Computing demand and energy costs have been driven up by new technologies and unprecedented business innovations during the past few years, all at a time in the economic cycle that dictates increased scrutiny over IT budgets, compelling both legacy and new-build data centres to deliver on IT capacity and energy efficiency.
Designed and configured correctly DCIM power solutions enable comprehensive energy and physical infrastructure efficiency in data centres, facilities and enterprise estates. These focus visibility of power, capacity and environmental information that is accurate and actionable for operational optimisation.
A critical step towards reaching an effective power management strategy is through the deployment of real-time monitoring and data collection tools which are capable of producing information on essential areas of power and energy performance. The aim is to provide IT professionals with a transparent view of consumption and capacity. The diagnostics help improve operational efficiencies, lower operational expenses (OpEx) and boost the resilience of facilities in support of Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
The cost of operating large data centres requires DCIM to become an integral element in the data centre operation. As part of the total solutions approach customer and suppliers work together through comprehensive DCIM consulting and implementation services. In this way they become more concerned with achieving manageable, measurable and cost efficient DCIM strategies.
Key benefits of early implementation of a comprehensive DCIM include:
- Improved capacity planning and management
- Increased understanding of the power consumption of the installed equipment
- Identification of inefficient resource utilisation
- An accurate view of overall and individual IT equipment energy use
A thorough evaluation of power and thermal performance needs to be undertaken with any remediation plan generated, if necessary, followed up with deployment of the appropriate monitoring solution. It is important to implement regular performance assessments, along with any agreed adjustments made, to ensure power optimisation is realised, and that the system can quickly achieve and maintain return on investment (ROI) benefits.
Chief among goals for infrastructure and environmental management is the need to provide clear and actionable data to both IT and facilities professionals enabling them to work together. Using the latest scalable DCIM power modules, it is possible to deliver advanced observations on vital power and environmental parameters.
Operators can now have centralised, real-time and historical visibility of power, environmental conditions, capacity and security in the data centre using granular operational data captured by the DCIM tools and system – and accumulating trend data also allows the operator to drive increased efficiencies throughout the data centre.
The software monitors, documents and displays vital operational parameters surrounding energy consumption including load draw, kVA, kW, kW/hrs, RMS volts and amps and environmental status to keep the operator in control. And it is not only IT power and environmental monitoring that is tracked; the latest software provides reporting across all other critical areas found in data centre and enterprise facilities.
The clear, easy-to-read dashboards and reports enable swift evaluation and well-informed decision-making regarding the condition of the data centre. The system allows operators to drive enhanced programmes to advance sustainability and operational performance.
The latest DCIM systems provide pinpoint accuracy concerning power and environmental monitoring, and this can be undertaken on site or via a linked console. Also alarm and alert thresholds can be defined and automated to ensure defined increases or drops in parameters are not ignored.
Operational issues are easily isolated which can prevent costly outages that affect performance, and the system allows for improved cost allocation across the entire facility from individual rooms, to servers, groups of racks and support services.
These DCIM solutions enable environmental monitoring of IT, cooling and supporting facilities equipment. Sensors can be connected to network gateways or to sensor ports on a network-enabled rack power distribution units (PDUs), to gather and analyse real-time, historical and user-defined performance data about a range of factors including operating temperatures, humidity and other environmental measures.
This technique simplifies the network by consolidating both the monitoring and management of connected rack PDU devices, and other equipment, through one single IP address. The reporting is available across a range of systems including control room consoles, desktop, laptop and tablets for on-site and off-site mobility.
DCIM now has the capability to provide intelligent monitoring with manual or automated response to data centre power fluctuations, and such systems are now being used around the world to control and save data centre operators up to 30 percent of cooling expenditure – reducing total power usage, maintaining UPS efficiency, whilst ensuring that the facility remains operationally optimised.
Today’s DCIMs offer an environment with increased flexibility and agility, allowing data centre operators to plan for change and adapt the capacity more easily. Carefully planned and monitored power requirements can provide essential operational savings which allow more cost-effective operations and increased ROI.
As an organisation, Panduit is an innovator in data centre infrastructure and has developed a range of products and services in its SmartZone Stack which encompass intelligent hardware for data capture, DCIM software platforms that provide information to address operational challenges and services that implement the solutions.