Who Needs a Swiss Army Knife?

Over this past holiday weekend, I spent some time updating my knowledge on many of the current versions of various broad DCIM category solutions. As I read, I still found a troubling common thread (after all these years) in a great number of these- Many of the DCIM offerings still present their core value as the ability to do ANYTHING that the purchaser wishes the software to do. They pride themselves on offering raw capability which can be taken as far as the user could imagine. Essentially a Swiss Army Knife for Data Center Infrastructure Management. Sounds good huh? Hummm, Methinks not.

The Swiss Army Knife Approach does NOT work for DCIM

The Swiss Army Knife Approach does NOT work for DCIM

Do IT pros really want a general purpose DCIM solution that has to be massaged, squeezed and cajoled into the REAL DCIM solution they seek for the data center? Do they really want to invest the non-trivial amount of time and effort to manipulate the raw data and features provided into the best practices and KPI/Metrics they NEED to run their data center like a business? I dare say that kind of roll-your-own approach would be LAST on the list of goals for the vast majority of today’s data center managers and operations professionals. It would be like a vendor delivering a truck-full of lumber and representing it as a house-full of furniture.

Nope. Not! Today’s Data Center professionals and their management chain are looking for DCIM solutions that are fully baked and directly address specific data center challenges on day-1. They are looking for DCIM solutions that have already captured years of proven data center operations experience programmatically. The Data Center pros I speak to everyday are looking for software solutions that can be used out of the box to ‘get them started’. Many are looking for business process and operations streamlining. Many are looking for recommendations and examples of the best practices needed to monitor and baseline current data center infrastructure. They are looking for mature DCIM solutions offer well-documented and well conceived best practices which are predictable, measurable, re-creatable and defendable. They want to ‘buy’ the knowledge and experience found in other successful data centers which have been running over longer periods of time.

As I see it, many of the DCIM (and supportive DCIM) players are missing the “high value” boat. If the end-user wanted to figure DCIM out themselves, they would fire up a copy of Microsoft Excel and create a mega-spreadsheet and refine it over the years with rules, calculations and tables, etc. (As many IT pros have done over the years).

End-Users really are looking for DCIM (and DCIM enhancers) and put significant value on these solutions when they are executed well. The most successful vendors will realize this over time and create the virtual “Data Center Manager” in a box. That is what most end-users are looking for… Fully cooked DCIM solutions that take a position, suggest specific Data Center management approaches and tasks, embody these ideas in out of the box software and then make it easily customizable (if desired).

Don’t get me wrong, The Swiss Army Knife DOES have its place, but that place is usually found in a State Recreational Park (or similar) and typically involves camping and fishing…

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Mark Harris Fremont, CA
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