Data centre managers face a number of challenges when managing the critical information gap between the physical and virtual layers in the data centre.

It is with this that Westcon SA is working with vendor partner, Emerson Network Power, to assist businesses with their business critical business continuity needs by exploring six key questions data centre managers should ask when implementing a data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) solution.
Data centre managers have been challenged to maintain or increase IT availability, server use and efficiency in the face of rising costs and demands. One strategy to help address these challenges is virtualisation, which increases server use and enables greater energy efficiency. But virtualisation also makes it more difficult to predict the demand on physical systems at any given time.
“As a result of the uncertainty in physical system demand, the data centre manager is compelled to reserve a resource buffer against overload at peak capacity,” says Jacques Malherbe, CEO of Westcon SA.
“A holistic DCIM approach provides new insights into the relationships between facilities and IT infrastructure components, enabling data centre managers to better optimise their data centre resource consumption.”
These are the questions Emerson Network Power recommends data centre managers ask before deploying a DCIM solution:
* What are the critical infrastructure assets in a data centre and what are their respective mission interdependencies? An inventory repository can provide the data centre manager with a “reality check” of today’s high-value assets, as well as context in the data centre plan for tomorrow.
“This forward-looking insight gives a continual business-oriented view into these critical assets allowing better return-on-investment (ROI) on assets as well as freeing up data centre budget for other compelling priorities—a top of mind concern for data centre managers,” states Malherbe.
* If asked by management, could a comprehensive monitoring and analysis report of all the assets in the data centre be quickly retrieved, and would this report identify bottlenecks? An effective DCIM solution should monitor all space, power and cooling attributes within the data centre environment.
To avoid an environmental-based operational failure, the DCIM solution should provide reports that enable the data centre manager to take proactive action. The ability to report these data centre conditions should be available on-demand to the data centre manager.
* Can a data centre manage day-to-day workloads with flexibility while servicing on-demand needs as they arrive for the company? According to Malherbe, the DCIM solution should provide process workflow that can perform scenario development, which enables the ability to model changes before they go into production, nested processes that list steps that must be completed before an action is approved, as well as measurement against service level agreements (SLAs), which are standard or custom metrics for measuring success.
In addition, it must also offer the ability to provision into under used space, power and cooling capacity. This function should recommend optimal placement for devices based on their unique requirements and the existing load/capacity in the infrastructure.
* Does this DCIM solution provide the trend analysis and intelligence needed for a team to deliver a comprehensive capacity management plan? To gain control of the current and future usage of data centre resources, DCIM solutions should provide data centre managers with insight into their projection pipelines identifying what projects are in various stages of approval and what the impact will be on the infrastructure, as well as trending for current and projected use (curves based on historical usage).
For example, data centre management should be able to tell when capacity or cooling will run out, based on usage trends.
* What intuitive Web-based executive summary and planning tools are provided in the solution? DCIM solutions should provide configurable web-based dashboards and analytics standard within the product.
Malherbe says this can come from automating the operational intelligence gathering and reporting through a comprehensive Web-based dashboard that will enable an executive summary that becomes the single source of truth in DCIM and planning.
* Will the DCIM solution align with IT and business services? Aligning IT services to address business objectives and needs is paramount. Any DCIM solution must enable data centre management to align their respective resource consumption with their current ITSM, ITIL and BSM strategies.
“Data centre managers are under more pressure than ever to achieve higher capacities with greater efficiency and less risk of downtime,” adds Malherbe. “A holistic DCIM strategy is a data centre manager’s best partner in meeting the stringent business demands in a modern-day data centre environment.
“To successfully implement a DCIM strategy, data centre managers must be on the lookout for the best family of hardware, software and services that allows them to address the critical infrastructure gap,” he concludes.