Adding Value to Colo Data Centres
Philippe Heim, Global Portfolio Manager DCIM with Siemens Building Technologies, explains how Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) achieves operating efficiencies in an era when colocation centres are becoming larger through mergers and acquisitions.
Typically, a colo data centre provides the building, cooling, power, bandwidth and physical security while the customer provides servers and storage. Space in the facility is often leased to customers by the rack, cabinet, cage or room. Colo offerings reflect the pulse of the market, as evidenced by the growth forecasts of 451 Research: The market researchers calculated how much space data centres worldwide will occupy by 2020. Their findings indicate that the colo market is outperforming other types of data centres, reaching annual growth rates of 8 per cent.
Many colo data centres have extended their offerings by customer demand to include Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM). DCIM tools offer Asset Management, central data centre management – a "single pane of glass" –, improved forecasting and an extended lifecycle. For the colo data centre customers DCIM provides complete visibility in order to track and monitor the performance of their assets.
A bridge between FM and IT
For colo data centres DCIM forms a bridge between facilities management and IT operations by providing a single, comprehensive view of both areas. It monitors the use and energy consumption of IT-related equipment and facility infrastructure components. The decision by colo data centres to adopt DCIM tools marks a significant shift in attitudes. Three to five years ago, quantifying the value of DCIM was difficult, and the tool itself was seen as more of a luxury than a necessity for small- to mid-size businesses.
Today, DCIM represents a win win for both colo data centres and customers alike. For customers, operating with a colo data centre provider will allow them to customize their data centre processes to meet specific workflow needs. This ensures that DCIM solutions will provide maximum benefits and reduce the risk of roadblocks in data access and use. DCIM tools will provide companies flexibility to adjust operations quickly. This will permit a company to increase analytics and the workflow substantially as required and reduce operations when they don’t need optimal analytics power.
As increased competition is driving market consolidation, data centre managers are recognizing the importance of tools such as DCIM to their own organizations and the benefits it can bring to their customers. DCIM is now seen by many as being business critical not only to remotely manage and benchmark multiple colo data centre sites but also for the security of those sites. Datacenter Clarity LC, offered by Siemens, is a good example of DCIM software and how it can enhance the customer experience as it accurately and efficiently manages the colo data centre infrastructure. The software provides real-time visualization of asset attributes and powerful tools to determine the most efficient data centre configuration. It is based on proven industry-leading software in lifecycle management and features real-time monitoring that offers global coverage and stability.
The real-time monitoring of assets is an essential feature of Datacenter Clarity LC. Sensors and powerful data collector software are used to acquire operational and environmental data throughout the data centre. Real-time monitoring with Asset management ensures that energy, equipment and floor space are used as possible. With DCIM, colo data centres gain live, actionable data that allows immediate response and better control of their facility and customers IT assets.
Integrating third party
With the data centre, market consolidating the fusion of multiple business systems is common place with an ever-growing need for the DCIM to integrate with third-party vendors. Having an open protocol interface to facilitate such integration is important as data centre managers are increasingly recognizing that such DCIM integration can provide competitive advantages. Today colo data centres are readily investing in DCIM systems as it is seen by both data centres and customers to be one of the most important tools needed to complement any data centre facility infrastructure. It can be described as the command centre with the software providing a comprehensive overview/transparency for making decisions based on real facts.
The integration of multiple business systems, a frequent requirement during mergers and acquisitions, also means that the system capacity of colo data centres must be scalable and effectively managed and delivered on a global basis. Critical functions such as rack space, power, cooling and network connectivity, require close
oversight which is achieved through a KPI-based client dashboard. However, asset moves, adds and changes (MACs) can create an imbalance in capacity utilization and can result in stranded assets - unidentified and underutilized capacity on some servers while exceeding resources on others.Without clear insight into available capacity, operators could invest in unneeded assets while others sit underutilized. The result is a negative impact on profitability at a time when capital is needed for growth. To better manage such capacity issues, colo data centre operators can utilize DCIM tools that will reduce costs and improve capacity utilization. With sophisticated tracking and reporting capabilities, DCIM allows colo data centres to accurately assess capacity levels of all of their assets. IT managers better control capacity and workflow to maximize usage. Facility managers can maximize environmental conditions to help prevent costly downtime.
Billing on actual usage
DCIM systems offer another important advantage: real-time billing. Real-time billing improves customer transparency and is a tremendous advantage for accurate billing and budgeting. By tracking customer usage in real time, operators invoice customers based on actual usage. This may sound counter-intuitive to the traditional method of billing customers at a set fee. For customers, it gives access to new levels of data that will allow improved planning and perhaps expanded usage. Most importantly, customer satisfaction increases.
While costs for DCIM systems will vary depending upon the capabilities required to address particular challenges by the colo data centre, perhaps it is more relevant to examine the added value that DCIM can provide. The ideal scenario is when a colo data centre agrees with their customer the level of access and clarity given to them into the data centre to monitor power consumption or real-time data gathering. It’s also important for colo data centres to understand that they need a process for DCIM. Without that, DCIM as a tool will not create a process for the business. This is key, as colo data centres expect to achieve full return on investment (ROI) on their DCIM system investment in two to three years or even less.