The Raritan Blog

Not All DCIM Tools are Created Equal, So How Can You Tell Which One is Right?

Paula Alves
February 3, 2014

Managing a data center and therefore Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is by nature complex.  Each vendor has a slightly different twist on the definition and no two data center operations managers are the same — each may require different pieces to best manage their facilities and IT infrastructure.  With these sometimes divergent viewpoints, no one vendor may exactly match the needs of each organization.  Understanding what you want from your DCIM implementation will be key to choosing the right data center tool vendor and having a “successful“ deployment.

So how do you begin to discern your choices?

In an analyst report, Gartner stated that “DCIM tools provide data center operations managers with the ability to identify, locate, visualize and manage all physical data center assets, simply provision new equipment and confidently plan capacity for future growth and/or consolidation. These tools can also help control energy costs and increase operational efficiency.”

With this definition in mind, vendors have created data center tools based on their core competencies.  Some vendors have created tools from the facilities side, while others have created them based on their IT experiences.  Some may be stronger in monitoring while, others offer more feature rich asset management functionality.  No one data center management tool is right for everyone.

So first, you need to understand what you want from a DCIM tool and then which potential vendor meets your requirements.  Using the Gartner definition, here are some key areas to consider:

  • Asset management tools can help identify, locate, visualize and manage all your physical data center assets.  Automated DCIM tools capture assets and associated details, store them in a single database repository, and can visually represent the relationships and interdependencies will help to lower operations costs.
  • Built-in change management workflow procedures help ensure complete and accurate adds, changes, and moves.
  • Automated and import functionality aids in provisioning new data center equipment while providing the reliability of data within your DCIM database
  • Built-in capacity planning tools and the ability to perform what-if analysis provide Operations Managers with information for future growth and data center consolidation with regard to the future floor and rack space, power, and cooling expansion, what-if analysis, and modeling
  • Look for DCIM tools that help control energy costs.  Regardless of whether it Is hardware or a software DCIM tool, the tool must be designed to accommodate real-time monitoring and analyze the associated data.  Review solutions that incorporate data center management best practices, including threshold settings to ensure energy savings.
  • Reporting tools can help identify areas for data center improvement and increased operational efficiency.  Search for tools that also allow you to view flexible dashboards of information for real-time results.

After you have reviewed the functionality of the data center tool, look at the soft considerations.  Areas such as vendor experience, integration and service offerings, and customer-focused activities such as support and user groups.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a demonstration to prove your capabilities.
Choosing a data center tool provider is not easy.  Remember to identify and focus on what is most important to you as you look to distinguish marketing from reality.  To be most successful, it might be best to start small and grow as you need.

Learn more about choosing a DCIM tool in DCIM ebook – 10 Key Considerations or contact us today for a demonstration of Raritan’s DCIM.