In our data centers, we are under constant pressure to be more efficient, from shortening the new client onboard time to reducing power and cooling costs. Our Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are our number one priority and energy is obviously a very large expense for a data center. In fact, according to the Uptime Institute’s Annual Report: Data Center Density, the average kW consumption per data center rack rose from 2.1 kW in 2011 to 2.7 kW in 2012. The challenge becomes how we maintain our uptime and availability SLAs to our clients, while being as efficient as possible with energy, all the while making sure we are adequately managing our capacities and maximizing our resource utilization. Additionally, the level of complexity involved in building and managing the supporting power and cooling environments is ever increasing.
Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) platforms enable organizations to take a more proactive and comprehensive approach to achieving the power and cooling goals through managing the attributes and the increasing complexities in the data center. This centralized information system allows a historic, real time and forecasted view of the facilities and how they are behaving allowing optimization of the assets and resources. Datotel, in partnership with CA Technologies (a provider of management solutions that help customers manage and secure complex IT environments), is now employing DCIM software to transform how we manage our data centers.
DCIM extends the more traditional systems and network management approaches to now include the physical and asset-level components .The true benefit of DCIM is really all about the data and having visibility to information we didn’t have before, providing us the ability to make more informed decisions in a faster time frame than we could have previously. This visibility helps us to be more efficient – both from a time and energy standpoint. In addition, DCIM helps to provide more in depth alerting capabilities; which in turn allows us to provide a higher level of service. This information access has helped us become more proactive in capacity planning both for ourselves and in projecting future growth and needs for our clients. For example, knowing exactly what capacity we have now and forecasted for the next six months, allow us to plan resources and capital allocation. This helps to decrease the time needed to deploy a new environment for a client – we can project what we need- when and where.
Another large benefit of DCIM is through what we call “a single plane of glass” view of our data center facilities, this means that we have one platform vs. multiple sources to get information on a very granular basis. This saves us time, resources and allows us to easily step back and look at the big picture. Within our DCIM platform, the operations team has a set of customized views into the data that represents their view of the world and information that is important to them allowing them to make key decisions quickly. This view is very different to the views at the executive level and the views our clients see for example. With more, accurate information presented in a timely fashion, we have the ability for better decisions, planning and ultimately, increased availability.
In our cloud computing model, our clients only pay for what they use; this same philosophy extends to the energy consumption within our data center. By utilizing the DCIM platform, Datotel is a unique position to enable our clients to pay for the actual amount of power consumed vs. the industry standard of paying a flat circuit fee- regardless of how much power is used. From our experience, this common industry practice of flat-rate energy billing is not favorable to the client. Knowing and paying for actual energy usage is not only a huge cost savings, but this knowledge allows companies to make smart business decisions and can become a sustainability effort as well.
Another priority for us is cooling. The data center environment is dynamic, making sure the temperature is regulated at the right place at the right time, and keeping on top of those changes, can be challenging. By utilizing DCIM, a centralized repository of power and cooling data allows us to establish thresholds and automatic triggers within the facility, devices and server racks so anomalies in power usage can be quickly and easily identified. So, for example, we will be notified immediately of changes in environment, such as humidity and temperature, which can indicate a wider problem.
We are now looking to extend DCIM beyond our four walls to those of our client locations. With visibility to our client’s entire energy consumption, we can help them make critical decisions on how they are using energy across their whole enterprise, not just the equipment within our data center. This optimization of the energy use can significantly impact the bottom line. But more on that next time…
Reference: Uptime Institute Annual Report: Data Center Density, Preliminary Results, 2012