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VMblog's Expert Interviews: Intel DCM Explains Latest Intel Research with Data Center Managers and DCIM Solutions

 

New research has come out from the Intel DCM's State of the Data Center commissioned report conducted with 200 data center managers across the US and UK.  The report revealed some interesting data points.  One of the most interesting findings was that 40% of international data centers are still relying on manual processes - spreadsheets/physically walking the data center floor with a tape measure - in an attempt to "accurately" accomplish capacity planning and forecasting.  Perhaps even more shocking was that data center managers were found to be wasting 40-60% of their time performing manual processes versus leveraging an automated DCM solution.

To find out more about this report and those findings, I spoke with Jeff Klaus, GM of Data Center Solutions at Intel DCM.

VMblog:  What surprised you most about the fact that 40% of data center managers still rely on manual processes?

Jeff Klaus:  We believed there were still manual activities happening in the DC, but 40% was higher than anticipated. This reinforced our mission to continue educating operators about the capabilities within the hardware they've already purchased! Intel Data Center Manager can extract data from instrumentation in rack servers and blades for the past two chipset generations, we need to do a better job educating our customers. 

VMblog:  If manual processes waste 40-60% of a data center manager's time, how would that percentage shift if they were to employ a DCIM solution? 

Klaus:  We have several DCIM use cases, which provide a range of savings. Some attribute $50-70k savings over a year for a 3MW, 300 rack DC, other use cases save more. It is hard to give a specific number, given the wide differences in scale and processes that companies maintain. However, with any given tool there is a good chance that the IT manager can automate and monitor all servers in real time, gain time savings replacing manual inventory with automatic data collection, eliminating data collection by ‘walking about' and the consolidation of underutilized servers.  With this in mind, a 15-20% operations cost improvement would seem quite reasonable.

VMblog:  And what does this imply about DCIM solutions/implementations?

Klaus:  It seems that there is an ongoing need to increase awareness with end users of solutions, so that end user know that they can really solve issues.  It could also imply that products need improvements in ease of use and/or to be more integrated to provide the vaunted ‘single pane of glass' often requested.

VMblog:  What's the biggest challenge faced by data center managers/operators today?

Klaus:  There are multiple pressing issues for IT.  There is so much new information, capabilities and promises coming at them. The industry challenge is to simplify the communication based on some extreme complexity and let the operators judge the best fit for their environment. Much of IT's time seems to be in facing the imminent problems of "here and now".  The time to plan for operational efficiency may be a luxury that is not often available.  However, if some time is taken to look at the available tools that may save themselves plenty of time and money over the long term.

VMblog:  What should data center managers and operators be thinking about when reviewing/allocating their 2016 budget as it relates to DCIM solutions?

Klaus:  There are many solutions on the market and there are many types of capabilities and usages that are supported.  One way to do this, is for an IT manager to evaluate based on what they want to achieve in terms of key performance indicators KPI, e.g., increase total performance by 20%, but maintain the same operational budget or reduce overall operational expense by 20%.   They should trial solutions and evaluate relative to these goals to assess the value of using them.

VMblog:  Based on the report, what do you predict to happen over the coming years? (e.g., manual processes to stay the same, more widespread adoption, the market will mature as more DCMs become educated on the benefits of DCIM, etc.)

Klaus:  The level of instrumentation in IT devices will continue to improve and broaden. IoT has come to the data center and it will continue to accelerate. DC Operators need to get ahead of this infusion of data and select the best strategy to harness this information and analyze it for their environment. This implies that higher adoption of tools and processes that more efficient is inevitable over time.  While a few may hold onto their spreadsheets as long as possible, I would expect the vast majority to find higher order efficiency becomes an executive management requirement and the use of DCIM becomes pervasive.

VMblog:  Any other surprises from the report?

Klaus:  There is an overall progression that IT typically goes through as they move from ad hoc processes to higher levels and scales of efficiency. It has been described before including the The Green Grid's Data Center Maturity Model, as an example. This occurs over time with the increase in the expertise at the customer and with the broader availability of tools to manage the environment.  If anything, it is a surprise to see that many are still using quite basic methods to control their environment, when there are multiple excellent tools available for use.

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Once again, a special thank you to Jeff Klaus, GM of Data Center Solutions at Intel DCM for taking time out to speak with VMblog.  Looking for more information?  I invite you to check out the report's findings for yourself, here.

Published Tuesday, October 27, 2015 11:23 AM by David Marshall
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