I recently had the pleasure of having dinner with Dan Harman, Building Automation Systems Engineer at Peak 10 + ViaWest. Dan’s has many years of first-hand experience with deploying data center infrastructure management (DCIM). In our conversation it became clear to me that a successful implementation depends on much more than technology and project management. I took away some key advice for anyone looking to implement a DCIM solution. Since it’s always good to hear what’s worked for others, and the fact that he’s happy for me to share the love via this blog, here are 7 tips:
- Source through distribution channels
One of the primary reasons for the chosen DCIM solution by Peak 10 + ViaWest was that it could be procured through distribution channels as well as authorized integrator/ resellers. The channel provides a more competitive pricing environment without any pressure from an integrator to perform an onsite assessment or pushing to sell services.
- Be vendor agnostic
Peak 10 + ViaWest has a heterogeneous data center portfolio composed of both home grown data centers and those through acquisitions in different markets. Consequently, the facilities are diverse in terms of design and equipment selections, demanding a data center infrastructure management solution architected to connect with, monitor, and communicate with a wide variety of different manufacturer’s products.
- Start small
Peak 10 + ViaWest started the implementation with a small amount of funding (<$50,000). Large DCIM implementation projects, sometimes costing millions of dollars, changes the game and brings with it pressure from upper management to minimize the risks and deliver results quickly. If that’s not bad enough, you also must contend with resistance from facility managers who feel they are being forced and rushed into adopting something new.
- Begin by monitoring priorities
In this case the effectiveness of the cooling system was the priority, so Dan and his team installed temperature sensors in cold aisles (NB: water leakage sensors around the cooling tower came later). This left enough of the budget to invest in other things like monitoring cards for the UPS’s and standby generators.
- Be human and get buy-in
Implementing a DCIM solution successfully is largely about understanding human behavior. Without genuine buy-in from the facility managers that use the software, any DCIM solution will eventually fail to provide the benefits it promises. So, never force a DCIM solution on your team. At Via West, one of the facility managers at first rejected the proposed solution. An open and honest discussion revealed that a previous employer had imposed a new DCIM solution on the team without prior consultation resulting in resentment.
- Share the knowledge around
Be prepared to demonstrate how DCIM can help the facility managers simplify their jobs and make them more effective. At Peak 10 + ViaWest, this meant Dan working closely with the team to overcome objections and work on the features that were going to be the most beneficial.
- Communicate the quick wins
Quick wins will win over support for the new DCIM solution and will get facility managers to consistently engage with DCIM data. At Peak 10 + ViaWest, one of the facility managers was tracking the rack temperatures of a high-density pod and noticed that every week, at the same time, the temperatures would be elevated. This prompted an investigation that led to the discovery of a CRAH unit with a known bug that was turning the unit off.
What’s interesting for me and my colleagues in the Data Center Science Center is that much of Dan’s counsel follows the advice contained in Schneider Electric white paper 170 written by our own Patrick Donovan. Click the link to download “Avoiding Common Pitfalls of Evaluating and Implementing DCIM Solutions”.