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Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) and IRM

Today's agile data centers need updated management systems, tools, and best practices

There are many business drivers and technology reasons for adopting data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and infrastructure Resource Management (IRM) techniques, tools and best practices. Today's agile data centers need updated management systems, tools, and best practices that allow organizations to plan, run at a low-cost, and analyze for workflow improvement. After all, there is no such thing as an information recession driving the need to move process and store more data. With budget and other constraints, organizations need to be able to stretch available resources further while reducing costs including for physical space and energy consumption.

The business value proposition of DCIM and IRM includes:

DCIM, Data Center, Cloud and storage management figure


Data Center Infrastructure Management or DCIM also known as IRM has as their names describe a focus around management resources in the data center or information factory. IT resources include physical floor and cabinet space, power and cooling, networks and cabling, physical (and virtual) servers and storage, other hardware and software management tools. For some organizations, DCIM will have a more facilities oriented view focusing on physical floor space, power and cooling. Other organizations will have a converged view crossing hardware, software, facilities along with how those are used to effectively deliver information services in a cost-effective way.

Common to all DCIM and IRM practices are metrics and measurements along with other related information of available resources for gaining situational awareness. Situational awareness enables visibility into what resources exist, how they are configured and being used, by what applications, their performance, availability, capacity and economic effectiveness (PACE) to deliver a given level of service. In other words, DCIM enabled with metrics and measurements that matter allow you to avoid flying blind to make prompt and effective decisions.

DCIM, Data Center and Cloud Metrics Figure

DCIM comprises the following:

  • Facilities, power (primary and standby, distribution), cooling, floor space
  • Resource planning, management, asset and resource tracking
  • Hardware (servers, storage, networking)
  • Software (virtualization, operating systems, applications, tools)
  • People, processes, policies and best practices for management operations
  • Metrics and measurements for analytics and insight (situational awareness)

The evolving DCIM model is around elasticity, multi-tenant, scalability, flexibility, and is metered and service-oriented. Service-oriented, means a combination of being able to rapidly give new services while keeping customer experience and satisfaction in mind. Also part of being focused on the customer is to enable organizations to be competitive with outside service offerings while focusing on being more productive and economic efficient.

DCIM, Data Center and Cloud E2E management figure

While specific technology domain areas or groups may be focused on their respective areas, interdependencies across IT resource areas are a matter of fact for efficient virtual data centers. For example, provisioning a virtual server relies on configuration and security of the virtual environment, physical servers, storage and networks along with associated software and facility related resources.

You can read more about DCIM, ITSM and IRM in this white paper that I did, as well as in my books Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press).

Ok, nuff said (for now).

Cheers Gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

twitter @storageio

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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