The COVID-19 pandemic has driven all interaction with the outside world online, causing a dramatic spike in the utilization of server compute, storage, and network resources. Data center managers have been tasked to continue providing the services the world desperately needs, quickly expanding capacity while also maintaining uptime and high availability. To make this even more challenging, public health guidelines and shelter-in-place orders have required data center managers to reduce the number of people in the data center to the bare minimum. Expert blog by Herman Chan.
In this “new normal”, remote data center management tools have provided total visibility into global data center footprints from anywhere at any time. Even before the pandemic, remote data center management was a trending topic due to trends such as moving to colocation or implementing edge computing, where many remote sites need to be centrally managed.
With COVID-19, remote data center management is now an absolute necessity to maintain uptime and business continuity while reducing the staff required to go on-site. Data center professionals now need to leverage a wide range of technologies in their remote data center management toolkit such intelligent PDUs, KVM over IP switches, serial console servers, baseboard management controllers, cloud monitoring, IT systems monitoring, IT service management (ITSM), building management (BMS), and electrical power management (EPMS). But to complete the remote data center management toolkit and bridge information across organizational domains, all data center managers must have Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software. DCIM enables data center managers to centrally manage all their resources and capacities in a single pane of glass to maintain uptime, improve efficiency of capacity utilization, and increase productivity of people.
Consider the following use cases for remote data center management with DCIM software:
- Remotely plan space, power, and connectivity – DCIM software provides a virtual visual instance of your data center in 3D with color-coded floor map overlay reports displaying real time data such as cabinet space, budgeted and actual power, plus network and power port availability to help you easily identify the ideal location to deploy assets. Similarly, what-if analysis helps you understand the potential impact of additions and decommissions in your data center. With this information at your fingertips, you can identify stranded space and power capacity to defer capital expenditures or understand if additional resources are necessary in order to meet demand. Plus, a comprehensive DCIM solution with an Auto Power Budget feature will unlock precious rack capacity as each individual server make/model instance is assigned a unique power budget value that’s automatically set from real-time outlet-measured readings from intelligent rack PDUs – your devices’ exact loads under your compute stress in your environment.
- Direct technicians to complete changes accurately – With limited on-site hands at data centers and colocation sites, accurate and productive remote direction of technicians on where to go and what to do can be a difficult process without the right tool. Without a single source of truth of all assets across all locations, you will not have confidence that you are directing technicians to the correct location to make the correct changes. DCIM software enables remote planning and initiation of clear work orders and instructions for remote hands. Cabinet elevation views provide the exact U position of your assets and device views with high-fidelity front and back images show technicians exactly where the data and power ports are located to ensure that connections are made correctly. DCIM ensures that work activity is done accurately the first time, reducing the need for additional trips to the data center and mitigating the number one cause of downtime: human error.
- Remotely monitor power and environment sensors across multiple locations – Managing multiple remote sites with their own power and cooling systems is easy with DCIM. An enterprise dashboard displays real-time power and environmental health, trends, events, and alerts for all sites in a single pane of glass with the ability to drill down for more granular cabinet-level metrics. Advanced warning of issues such as hot spot formation, power capacity limitations, and loss of redundancy allows you to take action to prevent downtime. DCIM software combined with remote power control on intelligent rack PDUs lets you switch devices on or off or power cycle them without the need for an on-site technician to reboot servers and restore them to service.
- Remotely manage all assets and connections across the entire data center deployment – As data centers become more complex and distributed, more data center managers are tasked to remotely manage multiple sites and business applications. In a modern data center environment, maintaining an accurate inventory of all your assets across all sites requires a tool that provides real-time views of all your physical data center infrastructure. DCIM provides business intelligence and analytics on metrics such as asset count by location, hosts per application, and asset cost by location which helps you understand which applications require the most resources and where you can increase efficiency. DCIM also lets you easily understand how assets are physically connected via visual circuit traces to help you avoid overloaded circuits, decrease latency, perform impact analysis, and quickly troubleshoot connections to reduce downtime.
- Improve collaboration and productivity of remote workers – With most data center employees now working from home, it’s more important than ever for data center teams to break down organizational silos and share a single source of truth via common views of dashboards and reports that are updated and visible in real time. A modern, second-generation DCIM solution will enable data-driven collaboration of remote workers with business intelligence dashboards that can be created, edited, and securely shared with respect to granular, role-based access controls. You can manage to consistent KPIs across your functional teams with preconfigured widgets and reports for every data center scenario. Categorize all assets in your data center and easily save and share asset and site views with the various groups in your organization, whether server, network, storage or infrastructure teams ensuring a common approach and process for remote management of all equipment.
- Ensure physical security of data centers – DCIM software has user reporting, audit logs, physical cabinet lock management, and surveillance feeds to allow you to monitor and manage who has access to different areas of your data center. You can even remotely unlock cabinet doors for remote hands to service equipment while keeping an eye on them with remote in rack camera feeds.
The new normal may present a unique set of challenges, but the objectives remain the same: improve uptime, utilization, and productivity. Now more than ever, data center professionals need a complete remote data center management toolkit with DCIM to bridge information across organizational domains – including Operations, Facilities, and IT – and have the information they need to manage all physical, virtual, and logical data center assets, quickly plan and provision new equipment, accurately make changes as needed, improve data center design, increase operational efficiency, and confidently plan capacity for future growth while increasing utilization of existing assets.