Let’s face it — there is no “one size fits all” solution to manage all the different facets of a modern data center. Each department has its own objectives and day-to-day needs. While IT teams are focused on asset management and capacity planning, facilities teams are focused on monitoring and controlling power, cooling, mechanical, electrical, and environmental infrastructure.

As more data is documented and managed in different tools, and within different formats, teams spend a great deal of time retrieving information and sharing it with other departments. These data silos often lead to inaccurate or duplicate information, make monthly reporting time-consuming, and create more manual work.

To achieve greater operational insight, optimize workflows, and improve data management, DCIM solutions must be able to collaborate and share data. Through smart integrations, one comprehensive management solution can be created to meet every data center need and solve challenges that traditional facilities and IT solutions cannot solve on their own.

Bridging the gap between operations and IT

An operations tool can be integrated with a planning and asset management system to keep every team member apprised of daily tasks and planned activities within other domains throughout the data center. Through this integration, teams will have immediate access to reliable, up-to-date information and planned changes. Let’s take a closer look at how this works in day-to-day activities.

Typically, equipment information such as owner, organization, users, and authorized contacts are documented within asset management tools. By integrating with an operations tool, this information can be made readily available to operations teams in their BMS consoles. Therefore, when facility teams perform maintenance tasks such as an annual breaker check or upgrading a power feed to a larger capacity, information can be retrieved quickly and affected end-users and customers can be informed about the project beforehand.

System integrations are also beneficial when preparing to commission new equipment. As these decisions are usually based on lists, tables, and static values — such as the nameplate capacity of devices in a typical variant — planners often struggle to find the best location for new equipment within the data center. Advanced asset management is much more precise and will take the exact configuration of equipment into account as well as power usage values and data from monitoring.

Working with a precise, digital copy of the site in an asset management tool will allow planners to make more informed decisions when placing or moving equipment. This integration enables all plans to be immediately available and visible to other planners and operations teams, so there is consistent information about available capacities and power usage throughout the organization. Real-time insights into site capacities also enable teams to make realistic predictions for future growth based on actual planning data, which is significantly more reliable than forecasting future plans based on historical changes.

Meeting modern data center needs

Today, data center managers face many challenges as they seek to deliver efficient and reliable IT services — from budget and cost pressures to capacity bottlenecks and compliance guidelines. However, with a centralized management solution in place, they can realize greater transparency across the entire data center infrastructure — from the facility level through hardware and software to networking, power, and air conditioning. This end-to-end view will enable teams to accelerate day-to-day business processes and achieve greater operational reliability.

In addition to documenting and planning capabilities, monitoring and managing power, cooling, and other environmental factors in real-time is also important to optimize enterprise, colocation, and cloud data centers. The ideal solution will provide full visibility, decision support, and automation capabilities through an open platform that supports secure, bidirectional communications with mechanical, electrical, and IT systems. Detailed information can then be integrated into the central DCIM solution so that teams can holistically manage every aspect of the data center.  

A 2D and 3D white space floor planning tool can also be utilized to easily visualize inventory and operations at enterprise, facility, data hall, rack, and system levels in order to identify white space utilization (WSU) and rack space utilization (RSU) to track improvements. This will allow data center managers to reduce the time it takes to locate assets and enable IT and facilities staff to collaborate to the highest degree possible. This shared data can also support capacity planning and improve space utilization to defer capital expenditures.

The value of analytics

Data center managers should leverage analytics for even greater insight into operations. Analytics make data actionable and can lead to new ways for approaching business challenges or optimizing existing processes. For example, to make sure customers are being billed appropriately, having an accurate assessment of power consumption is necessary. A graphical representation and a tabular evaluation of individual racks in a colocation site can be compared to power data to assess if it aligns with a tenant’s contract as planned.  

A similar report will work for enterprise environments if the contracted value is replaced with the planned power usage in accordance with overall capacity planning for the site, which will likely be derived from the design criteria of the data center. This will provide a clear understanding of power usage in relation to the life cycle of the site. These values will then act as benchmarks for usage reporting and further plans.

Breaking down usage for individual racks will deliver more precise insights, particularly when this data is combined with other evaluations. This report can also be used as the basis to optimize overall capacity usage, ensure power usage is being distributed evenly, and to avoid unnecessary hot spots or stranded capacities. With granular knowledge of current power and capacity status, teams can make smarter decisions when it comes time to add new equipment, such as defragmenting the environment and optimizing floor space prior to installation.

Analytics can also help data centers operate in a more environmentally conscious way. After all, being green is much more than checking power supplies and replacing old UPS systems. The right report or dashboard can help teams identify which legacy systems and servers are no longer needed and which can be replaced with more energy-efficient, modern systems. An asset management functionality can feed this insight into an operations tool to make it possible for teams to evaluate efficiency by server type, age, and power usage and to determine which servers and test systems can be switched off or decommissioned.