The COVID-19 pandemic quickly forced companies to rethink how they work. Across almost every industry, and nearly overnight, organizations began to implement remote work policies and retool their IT infrastructure to support distributed teams. This change highlights the continued importance of today’s data centers in keeping businesses running and their employees connected. 

With the massive increase in demand for data exchange — the backbone for business continuity — data centers must be equipped with the tools needed to keep operations running efficiently and reliably for their customers. Data center infrastructure management (DCIM), is a tool ideal for this scenario. DCIM solutions offer important benefits to data center managers — namely, access to a depth and breadth of data collection to inform decision-making across performance optimization, troubleshooting, security, and even future infrastructure investments.

The changes brought on by the pandemic have amplified the need for holistic DCIM strategies that go beyond monitoring. Instead, a successful approach incorporates elements of remediation to solve identified problems and predictive analytics to prevent similar problems and inform future purchasing decisions.

A Holistic Stsrategy

Traditional solutions have been on the market for years, offering capabilities to monitor and manage the utilization and energy consumption of IT equipment across a data center, including the systems that control power, cooling, and security.   

However, in the face of the current public health crisis, companies are increasingly relying more heavily on their IT systems to conduct business. This adds to the challenge of shrinking IT budgets, which can hinder the ability to evolve with the demands of digital business and tech-savvy customers. Today’s data centers require next-generation, cloud-based DCIM tools that will further reduce downtime by providing real-time visibility across distributed environments.

DCIM solutions that offer capabilities to empower data center teams to identify the smartest areas for future investment — including where investments need to be made in equipment or systems or how data centers may be able to streamline onsite staff and maintenance — ultimately enable operators to better understand what’s actually happening within their environments and prevent problems before they occur.

To realize these benefits, investments are needed on next-gen solutions that incorporate the following three capabilities.           

  1. Remote management

DCIM not only allows facility managers to gain insight into both the current and future states of their data center environments but also delivers the ability to gain visibility into both local and distributed sites — especially those that incorporate equipment from multiple vendors. The future of DCIM is cloud-based, leveraging internet connectivity to help manage data center sites from a single, unified interface — even from the convenience of their couch.

  1. Remediation

Today’s advanced DCIM solutions provide data center operators with comprehensive infrastructure monitoring, plus the ability to automate many management tasks and issue alerts when a piece of equipment needs attention. With heightened visibility across the IT environment, potential downtime is reduced and operators can identify issues and then take the necessary steps to remediate problems before larger, lasting effects on their customers’ businesses arise.

  1. Predictive analytics

Machine learning and real-time analytics take DCIM solutions to the next level by enhancing visibility through the collection and use of data to improve performance and enable predictive maintenance. With an analytics layer built in, data center managers can be empowered with the information needed to prevent issues before they happen. In addition, analytics can also enhance performance benchmarking. For example, by comparing real-time performance data to a baseline, the solution can identify when a component or system is straying from the norm and may be in need of maintenance, helping to prevent downtime and streamlining associated maintenance costs.

The “New Normal”

Now, more than ever, data centers must be equipped with the tools to support their customers’ growing and evolving needs. It’s very likely that today’s remote workforce may continue to be a trend in the future, meaning businesses will need to be supported by modern data center tools to address the dramatic increase in data used when teams video conference, share files, and more.

The move by many businesses to shift almost the entirety of their staff to remote working environments has also affected the working environment in data centers as well. Many data center operators and managers have made decisions to reduce the number of o-nsite staff and enacted rotational shifts for on-site management. This brings about several unique management pain points to address, including how operators can continue to effectively monitor their environment with smaller o-nsite teams or even from remote locations. Next-gen DCIM solutions can alleviate these challenges by enabling staff to manage facilities remotely using software to collect, process, and share data in real time while making adjustments from a remote interface.

Next-gen solutions will provide data center operators with the capabilities they need to increase efficiency, reduce complexity, and improve the reliability of their environments. They are a key to supporting increased demand, future-proofing operations, and protecting the mission critical workloads that power our digital businesses.