We’ve all heard the statistic. Eighty percent of the IT budget goes toward keeping the lights on in the data center. That leaves just 20 percent available for strategic initiatives that create business value from technology investments.

Many organizations seeking to shift that balance are implementing data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solutions. Broadly speaking, DCIM refers to the integration of data center facilities management and IT operations. It is designed to help maximize availability, optimize the use of floor space, increase energy and cooling efficiencies, and better understand the potential effects of changes to the IT environment.

DCIM achieves these goals by collecting data in real time, correlating it in dashboards and other visualization tools, and automating many time-consuming tasks. It helps to cut costs by reducing operational overhead and management complexity. Gartner defines DCIM as tools that “monitor, measure, manage and/or control data center utilization and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment (such as servers, storage and network switches) and facility infrastructure components (such as power distribution units and computer room air conditioners).”

DCIM software includes tools for creating schematics of the data center environment for configuration and change management. Most tools provide visualization down to the rack level, and some offer 3-D representations and even virtual “fly-throughs.” Real-time monitoring and analytics tools help operational teams manage electrical and mechanical systems and ensure the performance and availability of IT equipment. Historical performance data aids in capacity planning.

DCIM can be a real boon to organizations that are utilizing edge data centers. The right DCIM tools can provide a single-pane-of-glass view across geographically distributed facilities, enabling operational teams to remotely monitor and control the infrastructure. This minimizes travel costs, increases efficiency, and reduces the risk of downtime in edge facilities that may be unmanned or staffed only part-time.

In a survey of IT decision-makers conducted by Morar Consulting in Spring 2017, 80 percent of respondents said they had deployed a DCIM solution. For 57 percent of those that had implemented DCIM, the top reason was to gain automated tools to help solve time-intensive problems. For 43 percent, the No. 1 driver was the need to update legacy technologies, while 41 percent cited challenges they faced supporting complex IT environments. About half (51 percent) of those organizations that had deployed DCIM said that it helped reduce costs by 25 percent or more.

Among those organizations that don’t have a DCIM solution, 51 percent said they plan to implement one within the next 12 months. However, 33 percent of survey respondents said they don’t have the budget for a DCIM project, and 28 percent don’t see how DCIM would benefit them.

Although DCIM can deliver significant business value, it can be complex to implement and use. The good news is that vendors are offering more robust, user-friendly products, and emerging cloud-based tools are putting DCIM within reach of smaller data center operators.

Rahi Systems offers industry-leading DCIM tools as part of our suite of infrastructure management solutions. Let us help you leverage DCIM to optimize your data center operations and allocate a great portion of your IT budget to innovation.

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