With more than 200 vendors now claiming to offer some form of DCIM solution, it is getting harder and harder to navigate the DCIM solution waters for potential customers. For every positive customer experience in the DCIM world, it seems like there are at least a handful of failures. Surely all of these 200+ vendors can’t be doing the same set of things even if they all claim to wear the same hat. And in fact, they don’t, not by a long shot! (Well the hat may be the same, but that is where the similiarity ends).
Turns out there are a couple of sub-groups in the DCIM world. The easiest sub-group to identify is actually where everyone’s DCIM ideas and instincts were born… the Visualizers. This category has more than two dozen entrants alone, each with a pretty front end user interface and a wealth of drag-and-drop and charting capabilities. They are best viewed as the tools that are ideally suited for drawing floorplans, standing up racks on those floors, and then drag-and-drop installing servers and other IT gear inside those racks. All visually appealing, in a level of graphical fidelity that ‘feels’ like the real McCoy. (If you’ve seen the new movie called “TIN TIN” you can get a sense of the visual fidelity possible with CGI that I am talking about.)
That leaves nearly 200 vendors that actually do ‘other things’. And don’t get me wrong, many of these solutions are amazing. I have seen airflow modelling tools that are breathtakingly accurate. I have seen capacity planning solutions that accurately predict the future based on well constructed “what-ifs”. The possibilities with well deployed DCIM solutions really are quite mind-boggling.
So what is this issue? Knowing where to draw the lines. Too many of the existing DCIM vendor players want to be EVERYTHING to EVERYONE. They want to say ‘YES’ to any and all questions that are asked of them by potential customers. They don’t want to acknowledge the difference between their rightful core-competencies in their shipping products versus putting a zillion hours of professional services into a deal to custom write the parts of the required solution that they REALLY DON’T DO! Consequently, most customer prospects are gun-shy. Too many early DCIM pilots have come and gone because of these initial YES answers, only to find out (too late in the game) that the correct answer(s) should have been NO.
The DCIM community needs to mature to the point that each vendor can articulate clearly what they do with enough confidence that they can attract customers on their own based on what they actually do. Of course customers will always want ‘bigger’ solutions than any single DCIM player can offer, but that is part of the maturing of the DCIM landscape. Customers are really asking all of their DCIM suitors to “Say what you do, do what you say”.
The maturity needed in the DCIM category takes the form of it’s various vendors being honest internally and externally to focus on the customer’s needs, determine which pieces they do REALLY WELL, and then stitching together the important pieces by partnerships across the industry. I am talking tangible ECO-system style code-level partnerships between the DCIM players. Partnerships that create formal linkages that can be used to leverage each others efforts. Most importantly, customers solutions that are nearly entirely off-the-shelf versus custom code. (Custom code solutions will create DCIM orphans on Day-1). DCIM maturity will happen, but with the DOLLARS not yet free-flowing, there is simply too much stress across these vendors. They sometimes don’t think clearly. Again we all ask the DCIM vendor community, “Say What You Do, Do What You Say”. (No more, no less)