data center monitoring

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How DCIM can help with data center optimization goals

On Aug. 1, 2016, Federal CIO Tony Scott announced the long-anticipated Data Center Optimization Initiative. There are three main goals of the DCOI:

  • Data center optimization
  • Cost savings and avoidance
  • Closing data centers

DCOI requires federal agencies to develop and report on data center strategies to consolidate inefficient infrastructures, optimize existing facilities, achieve cost savings and transition to more efficient infrastructures, such as cloud services, virtualization and interagency shared services. DCOI also requires the installation of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software to automate and replace today’s manual methods of monitoring and managing facilities as well as provide proof that efficiency goals are being achieved.

Data center optimization. Five optimization objectives must be met by 2018:

  • Energy metering: 100 percent of total gross floor area in an agency's data center inventory in data centers must have power metering.
  • Power usage effectiveness: Existing data centers must achieve a PUE rating of 1.5. New facilities must be less than 1.4.
  • Virtualization: The ratio of operating systems to physical servers must be more than 4.
  • Server utilization: The rates must come up to 65 percent               .
  • Facility utilization: The total gross floor area that is actively used for racks must be at least 80 percent.

To meet these targets, data center managers’ first order of business is to discover where assets are located and what function they perform. DCIM, which automatically monitors and manages these assets, can give a clear picture of where those devices are, how much available capacity they are using and where each asset is in its lifecycle. Armed with this knowledge,  managers can consolidate underperforming and aging servers and make location changes to optimize space, cooling and power. These adjustments can reduce gross floor area and rack count.

In addition, DCIM monitors and tracks energy consumption and availability to help data centers meet energy metering and power usage effectiveness goals.  DCIM solutions even offer the ability to run “what-if” simulations to safely test what would happen in the event of a full or partial infrastructure failure. Managers can also document their data center’s efficiencies while tracking progress toward full compliance. Once the physical infrastructure is on track, focus can move to virtualization and other energy-saving initiatives.

Cost savings. According to the initiative, by the end of 2018, the costs attributable to physical data centers must be reduced by 25 percent. The first step toward that goal is identifying where expenditures are going.  Many data center managers find this difficult because they are depending on siloed software systems to track data center operations and spending.

DCIM solutions bring facilities and IT information into a “single pane of glass,” for operational cost transparency.  With a DCIM suite in place, data center managers can optimize for cost reduction without compromising business and security priorities.

Data center closure. The target for closing government data centers is a reduction of 52 percent of inventory by the end of 2018. DCIM can identify excess capacity and underutilized assets, knowledge that is vital to discovering facilities that might be ripe for closure. As data centers are closed or consolidated, DCIM software can help ensure data isn’t compromised, and facilities are not overloaded. As previously mentioned, a clear picture of each data center asset’s lifecycle stage also helps identify equipment that has outlived its usefulness and might be retired.

Because DCIM solutions were built for data center optimization, they offer one of the best tools to help meet recent mandates.  However, not all solutions are created equal, and selecting the best DCIM provider is vital. At last count, there were over 50 vendors who offered a variety DCIM solutions -- from data center fans to complete robust software solutions across all DCIM disciplines (e.g. power monitoring, asset management, workflow management, etc.).  When choosing a DCIM vendor, look for one that:

  • Supports all five DCOI optimization metrics.
  • Has a comprehensive DCIM suite that covers the entire data center lifecycle.
  • Focuses on software solutions.
  • Has a sophisticated workflow to support all data center processes.
  • Integrates with critical IT service management ecosystems.
  • Exceeds security thresholds.
  • Provides after-sale support and professional services.

These basic guidelines will prepare data center managers to meet the goals of DCOI as well as  their agency’s next set of objectives.   DCIM is not a destination -- it is a journey. 

About the Author

Mark Gaydos is chief marketing officer for Nlyte Software.

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