What is Data Center Infrastructure Management
The acronym for Data Center Infrastructure Management is DCIM. Datacenter infrastructure management includes procedures and tools for the administration, planning and operation of data centers, IT systems and infrastructure components. It creates a holistic view of the infrastructure and the IT components of the data center. All infrastructural aspects of the IT systems and data center facilities are considered.
Typical infrastructure aspects are power supply, air conditioning, cabling, racks, and space use. The tools and processes of data center infrastructure management enable comprehensive administration, monitoring, measurement and assessment of the infrastructure of the data center and the IT systems and components installed there. The IT systems considered include servers, networks and storage systems. Elements of classic system management and building management can be found in data center infrastructure management.
Datacenter infrastructure management aims to operate data centers efficiently and economically with all their infrastructure aspects, optimize energy consumption, and avoid failures caused by infrastructure and physical conditions problems. In addition, the DCIM enables intelligent capacity planning in the data centers.
The same range of functions and the technical implementation of a DCIM solution differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Typically, the solutions include both software and hardware components such as sensors. The solutions collect the systems and plants’ infrastructure data and consolidate, analyze, and visualize them. Advanced solutions integrate cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) processes and applications from the big data environment.
Objectives Of Data Center Infrastructure Management
Datacenter infrastructure management pursues several goals. First of all, data center operators and IT administrators should be given a holistic overview of a data centre’s infrastructure components and services. This holistic view should ensure the high efficiency and profitability of the data center. In particular, data centre infrastructure management focuses on energy efficiency and optimal building infrastructures.
Compared to classic IT monitoring, data center infrastructure management provides very detailed insights into the physical conditions such as air conditioning, energy consumption or room use. Another goal is to support planning for future infrastructure requirements for the data center environment and enable optimal placement of IT systems and data center components. Datacenter infrastructure management is intended to help prevent IT system failures caused by infrastructure problems.
Essential Functions Of Data Center Infrastructure Management
The range of operations of a DCIM solution depends on the respective technical implementation of the product used and differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. There is no universal definition of data center infrastructure management and the functions provided by DCIM. The most essential and typical tasks of many solutions include:
- Monitoring and management functions for physical assets such as servers, network technology, storage, racks, active and passive patch panels, air conditioning and ventilation technology
- Monitoring and management functions for the energy supply (power supplies, UPS, busbars, fuses, generators, etc.)
- Cable management features
- Functions for automatic (auto-discovery) or manual acquisition of initial data and changes to the components used
- Automated workflows for infrastructure customization
- Presentation of current developments and trend analyses of physical data center conditions to support infrastructure and capacity planning
- Automated optimization suggestions
- 2D and 3D visualization of data center usage and data center conditions in real-time (areas, rooms, temperatures, climate, air circulation)
- Provision of graphical, interactive and web browser-based overview dashboards
- Possibility of automated alarms in critical data center conditions
- Provision of a central asset database
Software And Hardware-based Implementations Of Data Center Infrastructure Management
In principle, DCIM solutions can be implemented in different ways. The solutions usually consist of central management software and decentrally installed hardware components that act as sensors and collect various data in real-time. This combined Software- and hardware-based way of working makes it possible to record the data from different systems and components and the other physical framework conditions. For example, the relationships and dependencies between the IT components, the infrastructure and the spatial conditions can be identified, the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and the efficiency of the air conditioning can be determined, or the numerical flow mechanics (Computational Fluid Dynamics, CFD) can be analyzed.
Absolute physical sensors or software agents installed on the systems transmit operating information and data from the servers, network components, power supplies or cooling systems either by cable or wirelessly. The central Software collects and analyzes temperatures, humidity, air pressure, power consumption, utilization, operating conditions and much more. Hardware appliances sometimes act as intermediate instances between sensors and central DCIM software. These appliances consolidate measurement data and other information, take over the calculation work and forward the information in a concentrated form to the main management software.
Some data center infrastructure management solutions are partly cloud-based, and central management functions are hosted in the cloud and provided as Software as a Service (SaaS). In addition, advanced DCIM solutions use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) processes and methods, for example, to carry out trend analyses or to generate optimization suggestions. Artificial neural networks (ANN) and applications from the Big Data environment are used.
Benefits Of Using Data Center Infrastructure Management
The use of data center infrastructure management offers numerous advantages for data center operation and data center planning. Typical benefits of data center infrastructure management are:
- Continuous monitoring of the entire infrastructure and all-important physical framework conditions in real-time
- Reduction of on-site personnel requirements through remote monitoring
- Integration of systems from different manufacturers in a comprehensive management
- No more different or separate management platforms are necessary
- Identification of existing weaknesses and potential optimization opportunities
- Prevention of bottlenecks in the power supply and air conditioning
- Recognizing problems in advance – the possibility of proactive action
- Avoiding outages caused by infrastructure weaknesses
- Reduction of effort and time required for error analysis
- Higher availability of IT systems, networks and storage systems
- The improved energy efficiency of the IT systems and the entire data center
- Improved economics of data center operations
- Optimized use of space and space in the data center
- Simplified infrastructure and data center planning through the use of planning simulations
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