What DCIM Solutions Features Do You Need To Look For?

By: Kaylie Gyarmathy on October 15, 2019

When evaluating colocation providers, most companies understand how to compare the space, power, and cooling capabilities of a data center facility. Unfortunately, they may not think very far beyond this, assuming that every colocation experience is essentially the same.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

What is DCIM?

The quality of the data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools used to manage a colocation environment is a key differentiator between data centers. If a facility deploys an underwhelming DCIM platform, colocation customers will struggle to get a sense of how well their equipment is functioning in the data center environment. With a powerful DCIM solution, however, they gain a level of visibility and control that actually exceeds what would be possible in many on-premises facilities.

DCIM Solutions Features To Look For

Access Control

Security is a major concern for every data center customer. The only thing as frightening as someone accessing data or applications through a cyberattack is the possibility of someone walking into the server room and accessing a server without authorization. While data centers utilize extensive logical and physical security measures to protect colocated assets, it ultimately falls to their customers to determine who should or should not have access to them. Keeping access lists and credentials up-to-date can be a challenge, especially for an organization with high turnover or one that uses contractors extensively. Good DCIM tools allow colocation clients to make changes to their access lists in real-time to ensure that unauthorized users are removed from the list as quickly as possible. Those same access controls also provide them with historical data on who has accessed essential systems and when they did so.

Power and Bandwidth Usage Data

As two of the primary cost factors in colocation pricing, power and bandwidth usage are always important to data center customers. If power consumption spikes, it is usually an indication that the servers are working harder, conducting more processing functions than usual. This data can be checked against traffic history. If there is a corresponding jump in traffic, it may be necessary to increase capacity to deal with the increase in demand. However, if there is no correlation, it could be an indication that the server isn’t deployed efficiently or is not functioning properly. Similarly, monitoring bandwidth allows customers to see how much data capacity their network actually requires to function effectively. With DCIM software, they can even set up alerts to help them monitor power and bandwidth usage in real-time.

Asset Tracking

Entrusting servers and other hardware with a colocation facility is a big step for many companies. Their network infrastructure is essential to their business, and they understandably want to be able to monitor those assets at all times. With the most sophisticated DCIM software, they can do just that. Thanks to RFID sensors, colocation customers can not only locate every piece of equipment at any time, but they can also receive alert notifications whenever that hardware is accessed or relocated. For companies that are accustomed to the level of control and oversight they possessed in an on-premises facility, this is a welcome feature that can help put their minds at rest.

Ticketing Support

Simply being able to monitor and locate colocated assets may be valuable, but neither feature offers much comfort when something is going wrong with a server. Good DCIM software empowers customers to actually do something with that information by giving them the ability to issue and manage IT support tickets. This is especially important for facilities with 24x7x365 remote hands services capable of addressing any problem or issue associated with colocated hardware. Whether it’s rebooting a server at 2:00 AM, performing a visual inspection of connections, or installing a new cross-connect cable, remote hands technicians can function as an extension of a customer’s IT department, tending to any ticketed task issued through the DCIM software. Once tickets are issued, customers can monitor their status and receive real-time updates on the issue’s status.

API Functionality

Managing an IT network environment can be a challenging undertaking and often requires an array of custom-built solutions that meet specific business needs. While many DCIM solutions allow customers to monitor and manage their assets remotely, they can often only do so on the colocation provider’s terms. That could mean setting up a separate system for managing hardware or constantly having to log into a web-based portal to look in on colocated assets. If the DCIM software incorporates an application programming interface (API), however, IT personnel can integrate the platform’s functionality directly into their existing IT systems so they can manage their assets directly without the need to learn or set up another system. For organizations that value speed and ease of use, API functionality allows them to respond to issues relating to their colocated infrastructure as quickly and easily as they could if the equipment was in the next room.

Mobile Support

Colocated equipment doesn’t operate according to an IT department’s fixed schedule. If a server goes down in the middle of the night, the impact of that failure is felt immediately, not whenever everyone shows up to work the next day. That’s why colocation providers need to provide DCIM tools that are accessible via mobile devices. With a DCIM app installed, IT professionals can monitor their infrastructure from anywhere and at any time of day. Rather than driving to the data center or to the office to address a server failure on a Sunday afternoon, they can simply issue a ticket and manage the problem from their smartphone. This helps colocation customers to solve problems faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Quality DCIM solutions shouldn’t be considered a luxury when it comes to colocation. The control and power these tools deliver to customers should make them a core element of colocation services. With a powerful DCIM solution in place, colocation customers can combat downtime more effectively, control costs, and maintain higher levels of security than would be possible through an on-premises solution.

vXchnge’s award-winning in\site platform offers all of these features and more, making it one of the industry’s leading DCIM solutions. With its unparalleled usability and transparency, in\site is helping our customers manage their colocated assets in ways that reduce costs, enhance visibility, and improve performance. As a central feature of our Data Center-as-a-Service (DCaaS) model, in\site is the DCIM software that gives power and control back to our customers.

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