The Six Triggers for Using Data Center Infrastructure Management Tools

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1 G The Six Triggers for Using Data Center Infrastructure Management Tools Published: 29 February 2012 Analyst(s): Rakesh Kumar This research outlines the six main triggers for users to start using data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools. Without understanding these catalysts, organizations will waste valuable people resources and money. Key Findings The uptake of DCIM tools is hindered by a lack of a clear buying group or individual in the IT, facilities or business and corporate and social responsibility (CSR) organizations. Some of the DCIM tool functionality exists in other products (configuration management database [CMDB], asset database, etc.), that for many organizations causes concern of overlapping technologies, integration of products and needless costs. DCIM tools range from expansive, enterprisewide products to specific subcategories, such as cooling or server energy management, leading to users not being clear about how they fit in with other data center tools. Recommendations Include DCIM tools in the initial designs for all new data center builds and all refurbishment projects. Use DCIM tools to gather accurate data (utilization, energy consumed, cooling required, etc.) of existing IT hardware products and compare with vendor specifications when purchasing new products. Use a standardized DCIM tool across all of an organization's data centers to gather critical information for ongoing financial efficiency programs and, specifically, as a prelude to consolidation projects. Over the next three years, the head of infrastructure and operations needs to take ownership of the overall needs analysis and either reject the use of such tools or drive their implementation.

2 Where CSR-triggered environmental reporting is used in company statements, appropriate DCIM tools should be used as a technical backbone for the collection of all energy and carbon dioxide-related information. Analysis DCIM tools started to become important in data centers about three years ago and are increasingly being seen as a key component of general data center operations management and, specifically, energy efficiency. The Gartner definition of this category of products is: DCIM monitors, measures, manages and/or controls data center use and energy consumption of: All IT-related equipment (such as servers, storage and network switches) Facilities infrastructure components (such as PDUs and CRACs) Hence, these tools act as a critical bridge between data center groups such infrastructure planners, operations and enterprise architects and the facilities groups focusing on power, cooling and cabling. Indeed, DCIM can be thought of as having a number of subcategories, such as: Data center energy management Server energy management Cooling system management New business models (such as data center infrastructure management as a service [DCIMaaS]) However, because these products are relatively new to the market and because of the potential breadth of their use (and integration with existing tools), users remain unclear about their selection and implementation. Without understanding the types of issues or projects that warrant a critical evaluation of DCIM tools, we have seen users make a number of mistakes. For example, IT groups have started to develop their own tools (or spreadsheets) rather than buy good products. Or often, data center groups have not been able to gather information on the IT and facilities operations and, therefore, make expensive decisions, such as buying new hardware or even building new centers without the sound data that DCIM tools provide. Hence, the critical question posed by many Gartner clients is, in which circumstances should they be using DCIM tools? This research answers this question by outlining six specific trigger points for their use. Because DCIM products cover a range of functions such as energy monitoring, spatial layout and air flow modeling, not all of them will be applicable to all of the triggers below. However, we suggest that any organization encountering the catalysts described below should investigate the tools thoroughly. The six triggers are: 1. Specific power, cooling and floor space capacity issues 2. Data center consolidation projects 3. Building new data centers Page 2 of 6 Gartner, Inc. G

3 4. Data center financial and cost reviews 5. Technical and architectural changes 6. Environment and sustainability focus Specific Power, Cooling and Floor Space Capacity Issues For most organizations, this should be the most common trigger for looking into DCIM tools. Where clients are faced with constraints in the energy coming into the data center, quality and amount of cooling available and restrictions of floor space, we recommend IT groups investigate the use of DCIM tools. Gartner has found that many organizations faced with capacity issues have not looked into the use of the tools. This is partly because of a lack of market awareness of the vendors and the functionality of the tools, and partly because of IT group organizational issues. On the first point, this is an emerging category of products and it will take a few years for the vendors to establish themselves as part of the overall IT management software offerings. Having said this, large organizations such as APC by Schneider Electric, Emerson, and HP, as well as smaller companies such as nlyte Software and 1E, are marketing their products aggressively and gaining a considerable customer base. Gartner believes that the real reason why the uptake is constrained is that there is no single role within the IT data center organization that would be solely responsible for the purchase of these tools. It could fall to the operations group, infrastructure team or even the facilities part of the organization. Moreover, the data center issues are often looked at in a narrow and parochial way with a view that just enough of a solution is needed rather than a holistic view of the overall data center scenario. For example, server-based energy monitoring software that comes preloaded with most modern systems could help the hardware teams in their analysis and reporting of the energy consumed by servers, but will typically not provide an enterprise view of the energy used in the whole data center. Gartner recommends that, at least over the next three years, the head of infrastructure and operations needs to take ownership of the overall needs analysis and either reject the use of such tools or drive their implementation. Data Center Consolidation Projects Data center consolidation projects are often started to save costs. They can focus on specific infrastructure, such as servers or storage, or look at the overall estate of data center sites. Part of the exercise involves collecting data such as number of servers, age and depreciation, type of workloads they are running, etc. Many DCIM tools have an inventory of such data, as well as information on where they are located, energy consumption and, in some cases, levels of virtualization. Many DCIM products have workflow and what-if analysis tools for changes such as deciding where a new server could be placed or what would happen if a rack was removed. Gartner believes that where significant consolidation projects are being considered, DCIM tools should be evaluated as providing an operational and informational platform from which to evaluate detailed decisions in the process. Gartner, Inc. G Page 3 of 6

4 Building New Data Centers Wherever a new data center is being designed (whether for internal use or for external, hosting or cloud use), DCIM tools should be part of the initial specification. To build a modern data center without the instrumentation and monitoring capabilities that DCIM tools provide would be negligent, and retrofitting these tools into a data center after it has been commissioned is both expensive and difficult. We strongly recommend all parties involved in the design and construction of new data centers build these products into their plans from the outset. Data Center Financial and Cost Reviews In the current economic environment, many organizations are carrying out financial audits of the IT operations. Data centers form a significant part of the IT budget, with 63% of the overall IT budget expected to go into run the business/data center activities in Hence, understanding how the money is used is of great importance. DCIM tools can provide a clear picture of operational costs such as energy and cooling; the fastest rising part of a data center budget (see "Managing the Data Center Cost Portfolio During a Recession"). Moreover, many of the products have their own repositories or are linked into Configuration Management Data Bases (CMDBs) and provide information about the assets (model number, age, depreciation, etc.) as well as levels of utilization and virtualization. Some go further and provide an initial analysis of the workloads that are using the hardware (see "Take a Workload Approach to Data Center Energy Management" for more details). This approach could be used as a workload-based chargeback mechanism. All of this information should be used in the financial analysis of data center and cloud operations. We suggest that IT finance groups should look at appropriate DCIM tools to provide standardized financial dashboards in and across their data center sites. Technical and Architectural Changes The IT hardware landscape is undergoing some significant changes. The move toward high-density blades, low-energy processors and fabric architectures means that hardware teams have to evaluate a number of different solutions both for tactical refresh cycles and for a more strategic architectural road map (see "Hype Cycle for Server Technologies, 2011"). DCIM tools can provide information in two ways to help this process. First, they will provide accurate and actual data on the use of existing hardware. This will include, space, energy used, and the type and amount of cooling required to run the hardware. This historical usage data should be compared with vendor specifications to evaluate the efficiency of systems and act as a guide to new purchases. Second, DCIM tools can also be used in prepurchase, what-if analysis of hardware changes. For example, if a new rack of blades will be added, many of the tools will model the impact of such a change on available power from the PDU, amount of cooling and floor space, allowing data center operators to make a well-informed decision. Environment and Sustainability Focus Many organizations have CSRs that cover energy consumed across their business and in IT departments. With data centers using up to 50% of this overall energy, reporting of efficiency, carbon usage and overall green credentials is important. Indeed, soundings from government Page 4 of 6 Gartner, Inc. G

5 bodies (in the U.K. and Australia in particular) suggest that companies may be asked to report on their carbon usage over the next few years. Also, many U.S. states offer rebates for energy-efficient data centers. We believe DCIM tools will be required to accurately gather this information for cloud and hosting providers in particular (and other large companies with public profiles). Moreover, the tools will provide a granular, operational breakdown for internal reporting and target setting for carbon-reduction programs. We encourage CSR groups to work with infrastructure and operations leaders to use DCIM tools as a companywide technical platform to measure energy and carbon usage. Evidence 1 "IT Key Metrics Data 2012: Executive Summary" This is part of a set of related research. See the following for an overview: Research Roundup for Data Center Facilities, 1Q12 Gartner, Inc. G Page 5 of 6

6 Regional Headquarters Corporate Headquarters 56 Top Gallant Road Stamford, CT USA European Headquarters Tamesis The Glanty Egham Surrey, TW20 9AW UNITED KINGDOM Japan Headquarters Gartner Japan Ltd. Atago Green Hills MORI Tower 5F Atago, Minato-ku Tokyo JAPAN Latin America Headquarters Gartner do Brazil Av. das Nações Unidas, andar World Trade Center São Paulo SP BRAZIL Asia/Pacific Headquarters Gartner Australasia Pty. Ltd. Level 9, 141 Walker Street North Sydney New South Wales 2060 AUSTRALIA Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Gartner is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. or its affiliates. This publication may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without Gartner s prior written permission. The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information and shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in such information. This publication consists of the opinions of Gartner s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Although Gartner research may include a discussion of related legal issues, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner is a public company, and its shareholders may include firms and funds that have financial interests in entities covered in Gartner research. Gartner s Board of Directors may include senior managers of these firms or funds. Gartner research is produced independently by its research organization without input or influence from these firms, funds or their managers. For further information on the independence and integrity of Gartner research, see Guiding Principles on Independence and Objectivity on its website, ombudsman/omb_guide2.jsp. Page 6 of 6 Gartner, Inc. G

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