Doing your income taxes with an Abacus…

It still amazes me how many of the DCIM solutions on the market continue to miss the BIG value point: Customers not only want these vendors to provide the core tools to do whatever the customer themselves can imagine, but they also want these vendors to do the heavy-lifting to convert their own years of professional Data Center managers’ experience and best-practices into well executed techology-enabled solutions that deliver answers to very specific data center management questions right out of the box.

The world of DCIM seems to continue to miss this point. Most DCIM tools are actually very capable general purpose toolsets that can be molded and squeezed into a customer’s desired solution, with enough time and enough resources. This is the problem. Customers are looking for solutions that are fully cooked, not raw capability. Imagine if you had to do your income taxes with an ancient chinese abacus. Just like many of today’s DCIM category offerings, the ‘tool’ itself is so general purpose that it can do anything that you can imagine, but the answers you seek (your income taxes) would be pretty hard to come by and rely on your own knowledge of how to take raw values and convert to results. I prefer Turbotax which is really just an abacus tuned for income tax preparation by Intuit’s experts in tax law.

Data Center data metrics

Making sense of vast data points in a Data Center

Consider a DCIM monitoring solution. Most suppliers of these packages consider their customer value as the ability to collect raw data and store it in a database of some type. In many cases they offer little if any of the mechanisms required to present this data in a fashion most specific to the operations of a data center. They present their solution as if the customer WANTS to figure out what to do with the data using a 3rd party reporting tool like Crystal Reports or even Excel. They suggest that every customer is so different that they ignore engineering the final steps. WHAT?? How can they miss the final steps? It is like the grade school child saying the alphabet and always stopping on the letter W.

It is true that customers vary, but data centers have many commonalities. The best practices which are learned by the most senior staffers over the years actually ARE very transferrable and valueable. There are space and power capacity analysis and handling requirements, server lifecycle management issues, etc. Frankly customers want a DCIM solution that presents actionable business results right out of the box based on years of data center experience. They would be happy to pay for a vendor’s data center best practice experience if it had been translated to well conceived software that applied to their own data points. This is where customers see value. This is what they are waiting for…

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Mark Harris Fremont, CA
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