What to expect from next-gen DCIM
In today’s age, when businesses are increasingly required to provide fast and customised services, organisations looking to be at the forefront of their industries are changing how they process and access their data. Many have looked to edge computing as a solution, and host smaller, local edge computing sites on their premises so that data, especially real-time data, does not suffer latency issues that can affect company performance.
However, Jonathan Duncan, Secure Power VP for Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric, warns that by deciding against using a central location that can be thousands of miles away, companies have the added responsibility of ensuring the uptime and reliability of their edge computing sites, which are typically one to four IT racks in size. “This essentially means you now have a data centre to manage, but it isn’t big enough to warrant maintenance personnel. It’s also possibly housing your most important data, so ensuring uptime is absolutely crucial,” says Duncan.
The answer, he says, lies in data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) software. “DCIM should be seriously considered by any organisation wanting to ensure they have reliable and efficient edge computing capabilities.” However, this goes beyond your standard DCIM software and operations and maintenance (O&M) strategy, he says. “To truly have peace of mind and detailed insight into the health of their edge computing system, companies must consider the next-generation DCIM software available to them.
“While traditional DCIM suites offer a wide variety of functions and capabilities, a smaller subset of core essential functions is needed for local edge environments, which can be found in newer DCIM solutions,” Duncan explains.
Device and environmental monitoring provide a “read only” connection to all critical infrastructure devices – regardless of vendor – to monitor status, access and alarms in real-time.This awareness of status changes and trends will help prevent issues from becoming critical incidents that could lead to IT service interruptions.
Device management provides a means by which infrastructure devices can be configured and their firmware updated. This ensures equipment performs as expected and helps secure the overall system from cyber security threats.
Asset tracking provides a holistic view of all assets, including their location, name, status, resource dependencies, etc. Having an asset inventory and knowing their dependencies is important in achieving IT resilience.
Data analytics and visualisation presents useful and actionable information on device status, alarms and the health of the infrastructure systems and their environment. This speaks to the user-friendliness of the system. Raw device data, frequent status change notifications and “alarm storms” can overwhelm users. A system with analytics and clear visualisation of data makes DCIM use simpler and more effective.
Third-party platform integration allows DCIM data to be shared with a remote monitoring and management tool or building management system using application programming interfaces (APIs). Managed service providers (MSPs) commonly manage edge computing IT and use their own management platforms; sharing DCIM data with these tools solves the “lack of staff” challenge by enabling trusted partners to manage it for you.
“At Schneider Electric, we believe that next-generation DCIM platforms are most capable of providing these functions for local edge applications. These next-gen platforms are defined by five key attributes, which differentiate these modern suites from traditional or legacy DCIM systems,” explains Duncan.
Firstly, these platforms rely on cloud technologies for ease of implementation, scalability, analytics and maintenance. Secondly, to enable insight and event predictions with artificial intelligence, they connect to a data lake. In addition, next-gen DCIM platforms use mobile and Web technologies and integrate with third-party platforms. Fourth, they prioritise simplicity and intuitive user experiences through intelligent design. Lastly, a truly innovative DCIM platform will also serve as a compliance tool to identify and eliminate potential cyber security risks.
“Edge computing has transformed the way data is being handled, processed and delivered,” says Duncan. “As such, the way edge computing sites are managed must transform. Compared to legacy DCIM solutions, modern DCIM tools are easier to scale, use and maintain, helping you achieve IT resilience and business continuity in your quest to please the modern customer,” he concludes.