The real cost of a DCIM tool.

DCIM implementations can be a complex and intrusive activity. It makes sense to do some proper research before deciding on a product and supplier. Many blogs or documents on the web tried to cover this item. But comparing DCIM tools is difficult because one always ends up comparing apples with oranges. It doesn’t mean that doing a thorough research before making a decision is a waste of time. There are huge price differences in the various offerings. And the savings that are offered by most of them are generally very optimistic and yet to be concretized. Spending money now on potential savings in the future seems like a daring approach.

What does a license cost?

Once you’ve made up your mind about what DCIM tool is best for your needs you want to find out what it costs. Almost none of the vendors put their pricing scheme on the web. It is very hard to find actual pricing and if you do you’ll notice that they have very complicated license models. Some models are relatively simple but this usually leads to steep prices. We looked at a US-based-DCIM-supplier as an example. They offer a full-license fee of 15,99 USD per cabinet per month. When you have a data centre with five hundred active cabinets that leads to an annual (!) license fee of just over 95.000 USD. It might be hard to find justification for that amount of recurring costs.

Another US-based-DCIM-supplier doesn’t mention any costs on their website but they mention a 5000 USD savings per rack when you deploy their tool. This should give you some idea about the price they are asking. A non-verified source told us that the one-off fees of this supplier is in the 1000 USD per rack range (It would be comparable to the 5 years monthly costs of that other supplier). That same five-hundred-rack-data-centre will set you back a one-time 500.000 USD. Again, an amount that is difficult to find sponsors for.

And how much for the implementation?

The big question here is: are you going to do the implementation yourself, or do you want a turn-key solution? The first option is saving you a lot of cap-ex, but it will put an enormous strain on your team. Implementing a DCIM is not an easy job, but once you have done it you will probably be in a better position to maintain the tool in the future. Of course, you need to retain the people who did the implementation and their long-term commitment is difficult to uphold in a thriving datacentre business environment.
Having the DCIM implemented for you is no guarantee for a smooth transition either, but at least you have a tree to bark at when something is wrong.

Bear in mind that practice has taught that the implementation costs normally exceeds the license costs. Especially when you take into consideration the time it takes from your personnel during the implementation, even when this is outsourced.

Any more costs to consider?

Yes! Of course, you need to invest in hardware like servers, sensors, intelligent PDUs etc. You need to maintain your system, manage your database and protect the data. You also need to work on optimising your operational workflow. A DCIM simply provides the data, it will not automatically increase your efficiency. That work needs to be done by your staff. You need to take that into consideration as well. Especially when suppliers are offering you these huge savings by deploying their system.

Another cost to bear in mind is the intrusion level of your DCIM implementation. Can you maintain existing devices and protocols or do you need to adapt your current set-up to the new DCIM? A DCIM that is flexible enough can easily adapt to existing conditions. The easier the implementation the easier the adaptation of the new system by all those involved. What about your current CRM tool? Does your new DCIM take the variety of contracts in your CRM into consideration? Some customers may have a contract based on kWh while others have kVAh or a peak-current-contract. Think about the hassle to go through contract renegotiations when your new DCIM can’t handle these variations.

How is Perf-iT different then?

At Perf-iT we know how complicated DCIM implementations can be. In some situations, we need to manage our customer’s expectations. DCIM is not a one-stop-solution for all data centre improvements! Once we have matched the expectations with what can be achieved by our software we propose a prudent kick-off. Our DCIM suite is based on a number of different components so we start with the highest priorities first. A benefit from this approach is that the implementation of these first components can be small and unobtrusive. Our customers get a good impression of the products and our services. And most importantly: if the customer is not happy with the result they don’t pay until the solution fits within their requirements.

Another advantage of the Perf-iT solution is that we are independent of any hardware provider. We have a library of almost any hardware that is used in data centres around the globe. So, implementing is just a matter of linking the various components to each other. It is not a matter of weeks, it’s more likely a matter of days, or even hours before our customers can start working with it.

Are there any savings at all?

Yes! And we are not talking about potential savings because of possible energy- or space savings. Many data centres leave money on the table without knowing it. For example: the complexity of changes in the data centre. Imagine a new customer comes in on the 10thday of the month. Many data centres don’t have a procedure for invoicing this first divided month. So, they just start billing from the first day of the next full month. Perf-iT’s energy tool knows when the contract of the customers commences, it knows what the status is of the kWh-counters on that day for that specific rack. So, at the end of the first month it generates an invoice for the actual power consumption. There are many more examples, based on the actual challenges of our customers, where Perf-iT brings money on the table, right from day one. The Return On Investment often is a matter of months, not years. And most of the time the ROI is generated by extra income due to better administration than by presumed savings in costs. That’s something that makes your both your financial- and sales manager very happy.

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