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The Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) market is predicted to grow from $307 million in 2011 to more than $3 billion by 2017, according to a recent report by market research firm
. But if growth is expected to be this big, where are the users who are going to start using DCIM, and why is it taking them so long?
The biggest driver of DCIM use is the push towards greener data centres. Traci Yarbrough, Product Manager for Savvis, a data centre provider, believes the interconnected issues of energy consumption and need to improve use of space. The European Union and U.S. Environmental Protection agencies have both indicated interest in effective energy management in IT. This has meant that power and cooling have become more important to data centre managers, and these are issues which cannot be looked at in a holistic way with just a spreadsheet.
Steve Hassell, President of Emerson Network Power’s Avocent Business, sees the big advantage of DCIM as enabling data centre managers to bring together facilities and IT management, not traditionally two areas that have worked closely together, and look at the data centre as a whole. The ability to look across the whole space and manage it sensibly is crucial as resources, including energy, are recognised as being scarcer. DCIM, he suggests, can help data centre managers avoid doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, because it gives them the information that they need to balance conflicting demands.
So why aren’t more companies adopting DCIM more quickly?
Notwithstanding MarketsandMarkets’ estimates of likely growth, it’s not clear that the DCIM market is actually currently growing at anything like that speed. So what’s holding companies back from investing in DCIM solutions?
The main reason seems to be that it may be difficult to get value quickly. DCIM is especially useful for making decisions about current use and future requirements at the same time. When considering a DCIM solution, companies should be focusing on what’s going on right now in the data centre, historic information to support modelling, energy efficiency, arrangement of space, managing cooling, and flexibility to shift power use and cooling loads.
Robert Cowham from Square Mile Systems echoes the point about value. Although DCIM solutions can provide great 3D-modelling and simulations of heat maps, you need to put in an awful lot of data to get anything worthwhile out of it. If you don’t have that kind of quality data to hand, then implementation could take a long time. Real time monitoring is only useful if you know what equipment is where, and who owns it, and not every data centre is that efficient.
A high proportion of well-managed data centres continue to use models around power consumption and heat that keep them within specified limits. Real-time monitoring is just a bit too expensive at present.
Despite analysts' forecasts, the market remains unconvinced. Advocates have an uphill struggle to demonstrate that it’s a genuine necessity, and not just a nice-to-have. And until economic recovery is more certain, spending on ‘nice-to-haves’ is likely to remain low.