The Data Center Management Services Pyramid


A data center, wherever it is, owned by you or a cloud provider, is the foundation upon which any future digital transformation rests. In choosing your IT procurement path, most start with a clear understanding of current and future needs, working with trusted advisors to arrive at the best solution. This is the right way to approach any type of transformation. Businesses today cannot afford to be tied to an existing infrastructure. This is what motivated the migration to the cloud. But performance efficiency begins with the installation itself.

Typically, “software-defined data center” (aka SDDC) is interpreted as “IT”. Data center facility engineers are used to this, but would insist that software definition starts in brick and mortar. Once this is understood, it means that the CIO will ultimately be successful in delivering all of the functionality to support the IT transformation strategy and business roadmap.

Data Center Management Services (DCMS) as applied to the building consists of a simple implementation and integration of software suites, processes, procedures and organization that will provide the foundation for software defined layers.

Having a software-defined data center allows you to measure and manage data across all active components of a data center, end-to-end, including IT, network, applications and facilities . The real mistake is to think of either the IT infrastructure or the facility infrastructure as separate pieces. Building the bridge between IT and facilities is the answer, and that involves reducing the height of several layers of management.

A suitable DCMS approach is an SDDC foundation. It comprises four layers, each of which is addressed through tools, processes, procedures and organizational components. (Figure 1)

integrated dcms

Figure 1. DCMS Integrated Framework

Layer 1 is almost always available: Supervision and data collection

Although not suitable for DCMS, this layer concerns data center supervision and monitoring tools such as the building management system for facilities or IT supervision suites. At this same level is dedicated software that brings intelligence to the distribution layers in the form of intelligent rack PDU systems or intelligent network cabling systems. This layer also includes the supervision of the middleware consisting of virtualization, containerization, network management and database management.

Layer 2: Operations management

Successful business operations have effectively managed data centers that deliver the right level of service and the right capacity at the right time and at a reasonable cost. Without the solid knowledge, process and operational know-how of trained personnel, and with constantly changing processing environments, the large-scale capital that companies invest in a data center is unlikely to produce satisfactory operational performance.

HPE is unique as a technology provider in that its solutions integrate both compute and facility technologies and practices. It is well positioned to help organizations develop and maintain well-managed data center operations to meet service level goals. It offers governance rules, operational information and procedures, runbook-based documentation, staff selection guide and training, as well as performance measurement metrics for new and existing data centers. HPE takes a systematic, multi-step approach to assess and assess the health of the existing data center, ultimately documenting operations in the “DC runbook”.

Layer 3: DCIM as a key element

The third key layer is the Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) layer. DCIM systems bridge the gap between IT and facility management by creating a database of IT assets and facilities that is directly linked to space, power and cooling on the facility side and computing, storage and networking on the IT side. This allows the system to optimize the provisioned infrastructure, accurately and quickly deploy new systems with associated power and network connectivity, and perform precise capacity planning.

The new paradigm involves managing the data center not only for reliability but also for efficiency. It is difficult to deal with what is not measured. Data center reliability and efficiency cannot be maintained without an IT facility integration tool such as DCIM.

DCIM enables energy efficiency as it is a holistic solution that tracks and manages both facility and IT assets. It also automates the planning of new assets and the deletion of old assets. Without it, data center managers would have to manually query available resources such as rack space, power capacity, network ports, and patch panel ports. This process is labor intensive and has real costs. Running automatic modeling analyzes various scenarios to configure the data center and provide real-time results to make intelligent decisions about data center optimization.

To enable energy efficiency, static data must be collected, as well as continuous and granular dynamic data from the various assets in the data center. The DCIM dashboard provides energy benchmarking across multiple data centers. This allows operators to compare energy metrics and understand both the challenges and best practices at their different sites. It also allows operators to strategically plan capacity upgrades and IT changes with overall energy metrics in mind, including colocation and cloud deployment decisions.

Layer 4: Data center efficiency and service portal

This fourth layer will complete the picture of an SDDC compatible system: the overall efficiency of the data center is measured, managed and reported on top of the first three layers of this model.

This includes inventory and asset management, configuration management, capacity management, integration management, smart dashboards and reports, which together deliver the right information for the right decision to the right. stakeholder, as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. Getting the right information to the right person

Having a service portal that will publish data and collect user requests without an integrated DCIM system leads to misuse or “non-use” of the capacity of such a system.

Better together

Integrating data center infrastructure management into software-defined data center policies has only been common for about 10 years. In the past, IT management and facilities management often collided, mainly due to disagreements over the domain and the perceived speed of response to functional needs. The integration of DCIM helped facilities and IT teams work together on a common dataset so that everyone could be better informed.

By connecting DCIM tools to building information systems, data center managers can understand constraints outside of the data center itself. Likewise, the installations team gets a better understanding of what will be required of the facility in terms of power and cooling and can start planning accordingly.

Most organizations still spend most of the IT budget on “keeping the lights on”. It’s hard to transform your business when you struggle to manage and maintain legacy IT architectures, and even more so if you don’t modernize the data center itself.

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About Munther Salim

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Dr Munther Salim is a distinguished technologist, consultant to HPE Pointnext Services. He focuses on green data center design, energy efficiency and sustainability, and data center facility operations consulting. He is an active participant and author in many industry organizations such as Green Grid, 7×24 exchange and ASHRAE. He has also advised a number of governments and government advisory bodies in determining their data center energy efficiency strategies in the context of global goals.

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