In previous blogs on DCIM, we looked at strategies for getting buy-in from upper management and some key tips for configuring and implementing the system once you’ve gotten approval to purchase and deploy DCIM.
In this blog, I’ll delve a little deeper into the importance of open standards and integrated cabling infrastructure.
Early DCIM solutions promised a view of all systems and the ability to automate data center, facility and IT systems with one software package. Today, the industry recognizes that this is not a reality. For example, many facilities monitoring systems are mature and have specialized control and monitoring features.
To integrate with other systems, DCIM must be designed using open standards. This is the only way DCIM can accommodate implementation of existing inventory data, management of any data point, integration with other systems and ongoing, real-time monitoring of a wider variety of assets.
At the very least, the selected DCIM platform should have the capability to perform simple network management protocol (SNMP) queries. SNMP is available on a variety of systems and devices, including switches, routers, wireless access points, UPS, operating systems and a wide range of consumer electronics and office equipment (i.e. computers, printers).
For example, DCIM platforms with this capability can query SNMP-enabled switches to gather information about individual ports, determine changes to connections and identify potential problems for troubleshooting.
Some DCIM platforms also offer network polling via SNMP. Based on user-configured schedules, the DCIM platform sends messages across the network to discover and exchange information with any SNMP-compliant device that resides on the network. These devices store information about themselves and return that information to the DCIM system. This is an excellent method of tracking new equipment and devices placed on the network.
While perhaps not as visible as power supplies, cooling systems, servers and switches, the cabling infrastructure in a data center has a significant impact on management, flexibility and scalability. Having real-time view and management of data connectivity is a must-have for DCIM.
A poorly managed cabling infrastructure can ultimately limit growth, and having a comprehensive historical view of the cabling can help determine support for new technologies such as server virtualization, higher speed optical fiber backbone cabling that uses parallel optics and switch fabrics that have fewer switch tiers.
For example, when implementing new equipment into the data center, it is not much use to identify a rack that is in the right location and offers the right amount of space and power only to find out when you get there that it does not have the appropriate interface and connectivity available to support the new equipment.
DCIM should feature integrated cable management that provides a real-time view of data connectivity, including rack-level detail. This capability will go a long way in facilitating moves, adds and changes, identifying potential limitations and verifying the ability of the cabling and connectivity to support current and future technologies.
For more tips on successful DCIM deployment, check out my latest article in ICT Today co-authored with Paul Goodison who co-founded Cormant and developed one of the first DCIM solutions available in the market.
Mike Salvador is a 28-year industry veteran, living the challenge of operating efficient data centers, optimizing the performance of network devices and delivering highly available, highly agile, low-risk data centers. Mike served as Belden’s technical solutions manager from 2012 to 2015.