We spent a lot of time in the DCIM industry educating. Educating ourselves, educating our peers, educating prospects, and educating analysts. One of the problems however is everyone’s point of view about DCIM is different. There is really very little factual reference material that defines DCIM or establishes accepted metrics or capabilities to participate in this category. Today, the status of the DCIM industry definition (or lack of) is a stumbling block for potential customers and significantly slowing its adoption.
We also spend a lot of time posturing. The hundred or so vendors that self-declare their participation in today’s broad DCIM category spend an enormous amount of time positioning their wares versus “the competition” using fairly QUALITATIVE ideas or observations. Well intentioned, these vendors typically offer only a valid piece of the bigger DCIM story. They bring some core competency to the table, but sometimes don’t see where to draw the line between what they have significant competency in (and as such do very well) versus what would be unnatural and a stretch for them to deliver. The current lack of sub-segments continues to promote this confusing behavior.
About a month ago I wrote a blog posting suggesting the need for sub-segmentation and received a bunch of notes from people supporting the idea. Hopefully over the next year or so we can begin to form these SUB-SEGMENTS within the DCIM category for each of the DCIM vendors to participate in. I had hoped that the analyst community would have begun to offer their recommendations for segmentation within DCIM, but alas, half a dozen years after the term DCIM was introduced, we still have essentially ONE BIG BUCKET. I would propose that once we create a half dozen sub-segments within DCIM, then any “DCIM” vendor could self-declare their participation in one or more sub-categories from which they derive say 30% or more of their current revenues. This is not really about vendor games, but a fundamental customer-centric goal that must happen if we are to start seeing industry-wide routine adoption, like any other business ERP-style application.
Why does it matter to end-users? At the end of the day, the end-user community knows they have a problem managing all of the data center transformation which is knocking on their door already. Their traditional means to manage all of today’s rapid change simply do not scale and do not embrace their new challenges. They know their challenges have broadened due to dramatic increases in computing density, rising energy costs, software-defined capabilities and hybridization of data centers (to include modular, co-lo, modular and cloud). And as a back-drop to all this change in computing styles, they are trying to run their IT structures more efficiently, more predictably and with a much greater understanding of their capacity and cost of that capacity, now and in the future. Today, they are forced to act tactically by using tools that they already have, some crazy scripts or magic spreadsheets or something even more scary. They continue to wait patiently for the DCIM vendor community to work out who’s on first and who’s on second. Who is a competitor and who is complementary.
I believe it is our collective job to start creating a framework for the hundred or so “DCIM” vendors to participate within. If a vendor makes an intelligent rack PDU, then they should participate in a sub-segment perhaps called “Intelligent Rack Power” and could then directly compete with their ACTUAL competitors. Doing so saves everyone involved time and money (and in doing so will reduce the costs associated with DCIM) and gets the end-user to their goals much faster. Think CUSTOMER!
Anyone have suggestions for sub-segments? Send me a note during the next 30 days, email@example.com with your ideas for sub-segments. Try to be broad-enough that more than one vendor can participate, but specific enough to describe core competencies where significant revenues are derived. I will collect all responses and then publish our ideas for community review/commentary.
Once we have an agreed list, I will ask the vendors to self-identify which categories they would like to participate, with the ground rule that more than 30% of their DCIM revenues must be derived from that category of functionality.
Happy Fourth of July!