The growing importance of data centre infrastructure management tools

DCIM

The increase in internet usage and cloud computing, as well as an increase in demand for centralised and unified management of data centres, are acting as the major growth drivers for data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) tools. Once seen as a ‘luxury’, DCIM is now a necessity for facility operators who have witnessed the rapid fragmentation and decentralisation of data centre market resources over the last decade. 

As a result of this increase in demand, the global DCIM market size is anticipated to reach $7.79 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 15.9 per cent from 2022 to 2030. 

DCIM tools monitor, measure, manage and/or control the data centre resources and energy consumption of both IT-related equipment (such as servers, storage and network switches) and facilities infrastructure components (such as power distribution units and computer room air conditioners). They are data-centre-specific, rather than general building management system tools, and are used to optimise data centre power, cooling and physical space.  

Solutions do not have to be sensor-based, but they do have to be designed to accommodate real-time power, temperature and environmental monitoring. They must also support resource management, which Gartner defines as going beyond typical IT asset management to include the location and interrelationships between assets. 

The benefits of DCIM 

According to a ResearchAndMarkets.com report, the DCIM industry has benefited from the COVID-19 epidemic. The construction of regional data centres, growing board pressure enhanced data security to provide more secure and robust IT infrastructures, and increased corporate understanding of the benefits that cloud services may give have all led to the growth of data centres. Data centre network and infrastructure services have seen a remarkable surge in demand across a wide range of industries as a result of the rising demand for the services of many companies that rely on digital infrastructure. 

Greg Johnson, sales director for software and digital services at Schneider Electric, agrees, and says that DCIM 3.0, the era in which we currently find ourselves in, has exploded due to an explosion in edge connectivity, the pandemic, and hybrid IT and work environments. 

“All of a sudden, data centres have become sprawling again, and they are everywhere – from broom closets to enormous facilities in a state or city far away, and everything in between. And so that is where we are today, with operators trying to deal with the challenges of managing this hybrid infrastructure and get a substantial footprint in this hybrid IT model.” 

Because there are no clear boundaries for what a data centre is anymore, DCIM is an essential tool for the operator to bring multiple platforms of information together so that decisions can be made with a holistic overview of the asset, from Building Management Systems (BMS), electrical power management systems, IT monitoring, and all customer workflows. Areas of improvement can be identified and improved upon to increase the operating efficiency of the data centre across the board. 

Should DCIM be bespoke? 

So, does the nature of DCIM mean that it is always going to lean towards a bespoke design? Not so, according to Johnson. 

“Here is my philosophy on this, and I think probably Scheider Electric probably shares this philosophy: products should be standardised, but the deployment and integration should be bespoke. If a customer buys or develops their own open-source DCIM, it takes a hell of a lot of work to make sure it is working in the most optimum way from the point of view of managing the infrastructure and the product, and it is up to the operator to continue to support it. 

“We have customers that decided to build their own DCIM tools and found out that it is costing them more money than I ever thought it would, for example. So, for them, switching to a standardised tool meant that they were confident in getting the basic things right, such as asset management, workflow, and capacity management, and then the bespoke part includes the integration of things like BMS, which is specific to that site. It is all about bringing a standardised tool with the proper integration to solve the problem that they are trying to solve.” 

Predictions for the future 

In terms of deployment, the cloud segment is expected to register the highest CAGR for DCIM adoption, with a rate of 17.9 per cent over the forecast period. Cloud deployment enables enterprises to provide greater efficiency, flexibility, and with functionality. Lower expenses and simple maintenance are the key advantages of adopting the cloud for operating systems, and, when employing cloud-based solutions, organisations have access to a wide range of cloud platforms and servers operating for analysis and mapping. 

North America held the highest market share of 40.8 per cent in 2021 and is expected to retain its position over the forecast period. The presence of a majority of the data centres and various leading players in the region is a major factor contributing to the market growth. Additionally, the increased acceptance of cloud computing among organisations as a result of decreasing server costs is predicted to boost demand for DCIM. 

Johnson hopes that more companies decide to adopt DCIM tools going forward to not only their benefit, but for the benefit of the planet as well. Data centre cooling, for example – an area of operations which is covered by DCIM monitoring – is one of, if not the largest consumer of power within a data centre. Johnson says that, with the right cooling management tools, data centres could achieve between a 30 and 40 per cent reduction in energy usage, increasing the efficiency of cooling equipment and energy usage at the same time. 

Additionally, Johnson explains that embracing new technologies could help continue to drive data centre efficiency. 

“The continuation of artificial intelligence would be a great thing for data centres, and incorporating it into DCIM tools. … Also, why not incorporate augmented reality as well? Perhaps someone could walk through the data centre with a device which can help visualise the next placement of a device, or they can move the device around a room to find hotspots within the room.  

“I think those things are quite close to becoming a reality, and I am excited to see what happens with this technology in the near future.” 

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