Responding to Venessa Moffat – TheStack

Last week Venessa Moffat of Agile Momentum wrote in TheStack about the real reason why DCIM is failing. This article is a reaction to that publication.

First of all let us start with our appreciation of Ms. Moffat’s article. She makes some valid points and we totally concur with her suggestion to consider DCIM as a programme instead of a project. There is a risk though because programmes usually have no KPIs. It’s important to build those in to demonstrate the success (or failure) of the implementation. The question remains how data centres measure the quality they need to deliver. This of course is primarily an UPTIME related indicator. How do you translate such a KPI into critical parts of your operations management?

We agree and disagree

We agree that many DCIM have failed to deliver upon their promises. But the real failure were not the DCIM solution providers per se. In our opinion the market analysts and journalists are to blame in the first place. They seemed to be completely focussed on the big names in the industry. Gartner and other analysts only looked at the companies that had the money to win their interest. The journalist took over and soon the DCIM market seemed to be limited to a specific set of companies. They all had these common denominators: big budgets and a top-down approach, working on a one-stop-solution. They took the marketing collateral for granted and published about the greatness of these products. I have never seen them follow an actual implementation of one of these DCIM tools. If they had done so, they would have noticed first that there weren’t that many actual paying(!) customers. And secondly, those who did buy the tool usually were not too pleased with it. Obviously, the decision makers would never admit such a failure, but the working force often complained about the complexity and inflexibility of these system. We have talked to many of these operational staff. We worked with them to come up with tools that actually increased their productivity and lowered the operational costs of the data centre.

DCIM ≠ DCIM

In 2014 the ECO organisation in Germany produced a document called “DCIM ≠ DCIM” which demonstrated a large variety of DCIM solution providers, much more than covered by most analysts. Ms. Monika Grass, the author of this document did a great job by listing many DCIM tools by asking to fill in a questionnaire. Unfortunately ECO did never produced a follow-up on that document.

This document showed that there were basically two types of DCIM development: top-down and bottom-up. Top-down development was only possible if you had the money for this kind of prestigious operation: They thought they knew better than their customers did and developed a one-stop-shopping model that suited all their customer’s needs. These were the big names with the big budgets and these were the companies of interest to analysts and magazines. They paid for the awards and the advertisements.

The rest of us

The ‘lesser’ players worked in the shadows of these giants in close cooperation with their customers. They build what their customers needed and came up with functional products that live up to it’s promises. Those solutions were build step by step and each step had to prove its own return on investment. We at Perf-iT also had this bottom-up approach, but we added our top-down view of the data centre operations. We learned that is was a nuisance for each new project to build the same tools over again, so we decided to create an automated process for that. This tool makes it possible to have extremely short lead times to implement a DCIM. We make use of an industry standard platform called ICONICS. This proven technology is based on decades of development and deployed in extreme critical locations like nuclear power plants, airports and the Pentagon in the U.S. (see our previous post about this) It gives us the possibility of being fast and flexible while knowing that it is stable and secure at the same time. It just makes no sense to develop something completely new, with all the risks involved.

DCIM is here to stay

We now have more DCIM customers that many of the industry leading brands. Unfortunately that never was a reason for analysts or magazines to pay attention to our product or company. You can claim that we should have spend more money on marketing, but hey… we’d rather spend it on R&D. We, and I know many other DCIM providers too, rather have happy customers than happy magazine owners. Spending money on product development gives us greater joy than buying seats at an award ceremony. DCIM is a world in motion just as the data centre worlds is. The market is maturing at this point in time. For us it is clear that data centres need DCIM to make sure that their operation is running efficiently and smoothly. The amount of data points is growing at an exponential rate and the only way to manage those is by using software. Software will define the profitability of data centres in the future. There is a bright future ahead of DCIM providers that can demonstrate ROI and successful implementations.

Do you want to know more about the functionality of Perf-iT’s DCIM or do you want to talk to one of our customers? Please drop us a line via email info@perf-it.com.