It’s time to take DCIM to the next level

20 January 2021

Paul Milburn, chief product officer, EkkoSense

Paul Milburn, chief product officer, EkkoSense

One thing that’s certain is that data centre teams will be kept increasingly busy in 2021 as they’re asked to extract even more performance from existing data centre assets. This will continue to be challenging – particularly as organisations work to accommodate the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

While legacy Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools are useful at helping data centre operations teams manage their facilities, many find them limited when it comes to the kind of deep data analysis needed to really optimise performance at the mechanical and electrical level.

That’s why for true data centre infrastructure management, DCIM tools need to get much more granular. They need to draw on the latest low-cost data centre sensor technologies and intuitive 3D software visualisations to make immersive real-time optimisation of data centre rooms a reality. Seeing your data centre environments in a realistic 360° real-time digital-twin view means you can quickly transition from just monitoring critical facilities to identifying and acting on thermal, power and capacity opportunities.

By gathering and visualizing this data at a granular level, operations teams can start to actively manage and maximise the performance of their critical data centre environments, drawing on the latest AI and machine learning analytics capabilities to secure actionable improvements. So what sort of functionality should data centre teams be looking for here?

From a space perspective, data centre operations can use the 3D visualisation approach and a simple drag and drop interface to support a range of M&E capacity planning activity from basic rack changes through to complete new room layouts. Capabilities such as space planning and reserved space allocation can help organisations to unlock any stranded capacity from their existing data centre cooling and power infrastructure – effectively enabling them to do more with less.


Moving beyond legacy reporting 

This kind of approach goes beyond legacy DCIM reporting tools to provide tangible M&E insights that in turn allow data centre estates to be run much leaner. Decisions can also be made more quickly, thanks to true live capacity planning functionality.

However, it’s also important to look for capabilities that make data centre capacity planning and management even easier for operations teams to action. Transitioning from more static legacy DCIM approaches to true live capacity planning presents a great opportunity to take more control of data centre estates – making the real-time operation of data centre power, cooling and space a reality.

Functionality here that can deliver real value includes the ability to reserve data centre space, power and cooling for future projects, as well as introducing intuitive ticketing and change workflows to simplify activities for operations teams. Examples include making it much easier to add new racks, enable further capacity or reduce space from racks, and also remove existing racks entirely. 

These features make a huge difference for data centre teams that are currently limited by complex DCIM systems that they find difficult to manage, or who are still relying on unwieldy spreadsheets to manage capacity changes to their estate. Some next gen DCIM capabilities might appear simple, but they can turn out to be really effective. Take a capability such as power over-allocation identification that helps teams to identify where current data centre racks have locked-in power capacity that’s not currently being utilised. Previously this would have taken detailed searching to uncover, now this kind of information is immediately available thanks to the latest intuitive management platforms. 


Remote services have never been more critical  

While the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine gives us all hope for 2021, the challenges presented by the pandemic are still a reality for the data centre sector. However, the good news is that with new remote DCIM functionality, ops teams no longer need to be on-site to monitor data centre performance and manage their infrastructure.

By coupling your data centre digital twin with the latest Internet of Things enabled wireless temperature sensors, it’s now possible for data centres to track the condition of every asset of interest across their sites – right down to individual racks where required. Together this approach makes the real-time thermal management of critical facilities such as data centres a reality – even in the most difficult of circumstances.