Learn about the top DCIM providers and the main criteria to use when evaluating them
3 TIPS FOR SELECTING A DCIM VENDOR
Consider these important criteria when evaluating your options
DCIM – its one of those things that everybody seems to be talking about; especially DCIM vendors. There is no doubt that DCIM is more than just a trend, it’s a powerful tool that’s creating a new standard by shifting the way data centers are managed. According to a report just published by Gartner Research, Magic Quadrant for Data Center Infrastructure Management Tools, the benefits of a good DCIM tool are undeniable:
- Enable continuous re-optimization of data center power, cooling and physical space usage. This can help defer capital expenses for expanding existing data centers or building new ones.
- Integrate IT and facilities management of a data center. This helps bridge the gap between the IT manager and the facilities manager by supplying each with information and analysis, bringing back together these two interrelated positions.
- Achieve greater energy efficiency. Energy cost savings alone are often enough to make a business case for justifying the purchase of DCIM tools, although these tools offer other benefits that are more difficult to quantify, such as improved workflow.
- Model and/or simulate the data center, enabling the IT manager and the facilities manager to assess “what if” scenarios.
- Enhance resource and asset management by showing how the resources/assets are interrelated.
But how do you choose the correct vendor partner for your DCIM? Clearly the initial implementation with inventory auditing, systems integration, and staff training represent a significant investment in time and money, so while the benefits are many, selecting the correct DCIM tool for your business is critical. You’ll be working closely with your DCIM vendor, so it’s important to choose wisely. Here are 3 Tips to Selecting A DCIM Vendor:
Tip #1 – Start with a short list of DCIM market leaders
It may seem obvious, but its important to work with a company that knows their stuff. Be weary of highly specialized or custom systems home-grown by providers hosting on their own networks. Some degree of standardization is important so adding equipment as your facility grows is simple. Also, you want a provider with ongoing DCIM product development. Custom providers often lag behind the rest of the industry in terms of new features and capabilities.
The market leaders are where they are for a reason – they’ve developed a great product and are supporting it with great service. Ideally, your vendor has a background in IT and/or facilities so they know the challenges you face when managing your data center. How do you know if you’re talking to a market leader? Do what Gartner Research did when developing their recent report – look for companies that have been doing DCIM for at least a couple of years and have had a major implementation within the past 6 months. How large is their current customer base? Do they have any prestigious clients or case studies of high profile projects?
Tip #2 – Be sure to work with a financially stable company
Chances are that the market leaders are also financially stable, but that’s not always the case. Some were early start-ups that still haven’t reached profitability, but are bringing a good product to market. Financial stability is important because in addition to the DCIM tool, you’re investing in your DCIM provider. You’ll need their service and support for several years to come, so if their financial position is tenuous, there are no assurances that they will be around to support their product a few years down the road.
Similarly, companies with a lot of capital resources tend to invest more in their product R&D ensuring your product gets the updates it needs over time to keep your DCIM tool current with industry trends and product improvements. Companies struggling financially will make cuts in service and product development first.
Tip #3 – Look into the available options and additional modules
No one knows better than you that your needs change over time. And while you may have plans laid out for the next several years, things come up. Companies in highly regulated industries such as financial services or healthcare are particularly susceptible to unplanned compliance regulations that can impact the data center. So even though you may not be interested in a DCIM tool with all the bells and whistles today – you may need them in the not-too-distant future. To prepare for this, look for DCIM tools that offer additional modules for things such as capacity management, integration with your BMS, asset tracking, and more. Evaluate the entire product suite even if you don’t intend to start with everything. That way, when and if the time comes to add on, you know you’re working with best-in-class.
Some DCIM providers have simple solutions that don’t offer much in terms of extra reporting and analysis. These options are tempting because they often come with a lower price tag. But remember, this is a long-term investment and the project to implement it is large enough that the barrier to change is high – so you want to get it right the first time.
Consider reading through Gartner’s Independent Analysis of the top DCIM tools on the market today – Magic Quadrant for Data Center Infrastructure Management Tools. Just published in Q4 of 2014, this is a great objective report on several providers that meet most of the criteria identified above. The most useful part of the report may be the discussion of each vendor’s strengths and weaknesses along with the product insight.
Gartner concluded that Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare Data Center Expert is the best DCIM solution available in the market today. Schneider Electric was a DCIM pioneer with a strong background in Operations Management. Their financial stability as a global leader in Energy Management means they will be around for a long time. And their product suite of DCIM modules for StruxureWare is one of the largest and most varied available. If you’d like to learn more about StruxureWare or any other DCIM tool we offer, please call 800-876-9373.
Power Solutions, LLC
800-876-9373 ext. 711