COVID has changed the way we work, move, and live — and enterprises are adapting to these changes to provide the best possible customer experience in this new, hyper-connected world. Customer expectations have changed, which has had a major impact on the amount of data companies need to be able to process instantaneously, regardless of where the end user may be located.
Consequently, edge computing has become a must for enterprises looking to succeed in this new distributed environment. Edge computing has many benefits; however, its decentralized nature can make it a point of stress for data center managers, as they are unable to be on-premises to physically maintain and monitor each data center themselves.
As we move further toward the edge, data center managers need to be able to have eyes on all assets in all locations at all times – which is where data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools come into play. When DCIM was first introduced, it delivered capabilities, such as real-time monitoring and task automation, to reduce the hardware footprint and improve uptime in core on-premise data centers — making data center administrator’s job considerably easier by driving new efficiencies.
However, there have been many improvements made to these tools over the last few years, and it would behoove data center managers to be aware of these new capabilities, especially as most are likely deploying their own hybrid IT strategies that now include an ever-increasing footprint at the edge. Next-generation DCIM is the next phase of the evolution of data center management and will further reduce downtime by providing real-time visibility across distributed environments.
Data Center Management Evolution
As workloads have increased and workstyles have changed, the amount of data processed in data centers have adapted as well. Managing massive amounts of processed data is unrealistic and largely inefficient for modern data center managers. DCIM makes data center management smoother and simpler by using software, hardware, and sensors to monitor critical systems from a central dashboard in real time. DCIM handles not only day-to-day tasks but also the management of change, capacity, and assets.
DCIM enables administrators to respond to problems more quickly — which prevents downtime — but, in some cases, an outage is unavoidable. With next-generation DCIM, however, the ability to prevent unplanned downtime increases substantially.
The main difference between DCIM and next-generation DCIM is that the new versions run in the cloud. As such, it is especially suited to running distributed IT environments that include centralized, regional edge, and local edge environments.
One of the main benefits of cloud-based DCIM is visibility. Now, administrators get around-the-clock monitoring with full visibility of the environment anytime and anywhere. It also means being able to manage more with less and providing data center managers with greater knowledge (product information, historical data, product usage profiles, etc.) so they can have better operational control.
Analytics on power usage and environmental conditions are also factored into DCIM so administrators can make adjustments that reduce power consumption and protect equipment. And because the solution is cloud-based, it helps reduce footprints. Through data collection, next-generation DCIM tracks threshold violations and issues alerts when action is required to avoid an outage.
Monitoring environmental conditions enables administrators to essentially be in every room of their centers at the same time. Next-generation DCIM incorporates environmental monitors to provide real-time alerts for temperature, humidity, moisture, unlocked doors/windows, motion sensors, sound sensors, perimeter breaches, and any other physical threats. As our IT environments become increasingly distributed, physical security monitoring should be a nonnegotiable part of any diverse IT strategy.
Another innovation that has been made to next-generation DCIM is the ability to not only flag potential failures but also to deploy a trained technician to replace the faulty equipment the next day. Again, this new capability provides peace of mind for data center managers who have assets deployed at the edge and, ultimately, increases resiliency and uptime.
The result is less downtime and fewer errors. As such, next-generation DCIM is a proactive solution that mitigates risk and delivers peace of mind to data center administrators by addressing common challenges, like managing applications, hardware, and services from multiple vendors with different contracts, warranties, and updated schedules.
It can also assist with running multiple on-premises and edge data centers with different equipment and processes to monitor performance, manage change when systems or equipment need to be upgraded or replaced, and protect assets from physical security threats.