DCIM Moving From Nice To Have To Must Have

Up until a few years ago when energy costs spiked, nobody really cared about how the data center was running, said Mark Harris, VP of Marketing and Data Center Strategy, Nlyte Software. “They only cared about one metric, SLA (service level agreement). It didn’t matter if the data center needed $1,000 or $1,000,000. As long as SLAs were met, cost didn’t matter.”

Nlyte, which has been selling Data Center Infrastructure Management software since before the term DCIM came into existence, automates data center management processes, enabling customers to improve governance, assure compliance and minimize risk, while reducing energy consumption and future capital expenditures, said Harris. The software platform is distributed, Web-based and extensible, and includes asset placement, lifecycle management and workflow, and NgaugeAPI, a data services integration platform.

DCIM is industrial-class ERP for the data center, said Harris. “Until people started worrying about what was happenging in the data center, adult supervison, so to speak, they didn’t care.” When energy got more expensive around 2009-10, organizations started asking if there weren’t better ways to run their data centers, and that’s when a number of vendors jumped into the market, and “created so much confusion in the market, they paralyzed it.”

451 Research has been covering the DCIM software market for the last five years, and while there is growing interest, pricing was the number one reason organizations weren’t adopting it (63%), followed by integration difficulties (30%). It is clear that the absolute cost of DCIM is a significant issue for customers, and this has held back development of the market, wrote analyst Andy Lawrence.

According to an earlier 451 report, the DCIM software marketplace was believed to have generated $245 million in revenue in 2010, and was expected to grow to $1.3 billion in 2015, a 39% CAGR (compound annual growth rate). Back at the start of 2011 there were close to 40 vendors identified in this space, but just a year later, more than 200 vendors were claiming offer some form of a DCIM solution.

Harris said this explosion of vendors and solutions caused many organizations to wait until the market matured. Most of vendors who jumped in early, started off wrong. “They thought it was a technology… (but the) most successful DCIM implementations are about answering specific business issues. I know I can see 2,500 servers, but what happens if this Cisco switch fails? Impact analysis of a Cisco switch failure is probably easy to answer, but when a rack fails, those are the types of problems we’re seeing… nobody understood the physical implications.”

The market maturity has now happened, he said. “Every large customer on the planet has some funded initiative to get their data center asset management into some kind of order. We already have more demand than we can handle today.”

Harris said Gartner predicts DCIM tools and processes will become mainstream in data centers by 2015, growing from between 5% and 10% penetration (in 2012) to over 60%. Nlyte is already helping customers realize a 50% reduction in the time to deploy assets, a 20% reduction in power costs, and up to 5 years of extending the data center life.

Looking ahead, Harris said data center meta changes are already appearing, from demand automation to virtualization and cloud. DCIM will move from understanding what’s installed and how its operating, to actual control of both physical and virtual assets. “We will see the market market leveraging all that knowledge into other business systems managing consumption in the data center.”



Author: Steve Wexler

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