Have you been tasked by your boss to look for Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software for your team? The reason could range from needing to replace free open source DCIM tools, migrate from an existing DCIM solution that’s not delivering ROI, or perhaps because you’ve finally outgrown your spreadsheets and Visio diagrams! and need better capacity management….though it’s a pain in the neck, a time investment now (before you purchase a solution) pays off later with a successful project.

Regardless of a DCIM solution’s inherent value, hunting for solutions can get annoying…fast: waiting for a vendor’s sales team to contact you, scheduling a demo, having to ask if they offer free trials, finding out whether or not your procurement process mandates a RFI and/or a RFP to be issued, defining your requirements, deciphering how different DCIM vendors price out their software, learning if a solution offers Cloud or on-premises installation (or both), identify which training and professional services are available (and what you may need), and the list goes on… Ibuprofen, anyone?

In this blog, I’ll break up the process of buying DCIM into the most important steps — so you know where to start — and what to expect!

Buying DCIM Software 101: Basics

Before you start looking into DCIM vendors, start looking at what you want a solution to do. If you ask ten companies what DCIM means to them, it may not exactly be what you are looking for. DCIM means different things to different people (and different vendors), so defining your organization’s requirements is a must.

For example: do you need to track and manage cabling and changes? Do you want the ability to slash power costs? Make a list of what you expect to get out of DCIM.

To learn more about how to define DCIM for your organization, click here to explore our mostly vendor-agnostic series on buying the right DCIM solution for your organization.

Buying DCIM Software 101: Vendors

Now that you have your list of expectations, it’s time to find vendors who offer the capabilities you need. We say it all the time here, but no two DCIM solutions are alike. Different vendors focus on different capabilities, such as hardware vendors focusing more on selling hardware, or DCIM is one of many solutions that is offered.

There are boutique DCIM vendors, like us (Graphical Networks), Sunbird, and Device42, whose main focus is DCIM and other vendors like Schneider, Vertiv (oh wait — Trellis DCIM is end-of-life…), and others. Make sure to ask your DCIM vendor how long their current version has been out, and their next version release date, so you know they are still working on developing and supporting its DCIM product!

To learn more about DCIM vendors, click here.

Buying DCIM Software 101: Demos

What should you expect to gain from a DCIM demo? You should leave the demo with a good idea of how the software will help solve your needs.

Sure, it’s nice to see the bells and whistles…but, if the bells and whistles don’t solve your problems, that’s not your priority in a demo!

To get the most out of a demo, be upfront about what you want to see. You don’t want to sit through a two hour demo to see every single feature of the DCIM software, right? Focus on what are the biggest factors that are driving you to obtain a DCIM solution and find out if a solution can help.

To learn more about what really matters during a demo, click here.

Buying DCIM Software 101: Free Trials

A free trial should give you a good idea of how the software works — but it probably won’t be the whole picture: a free trial gives you a good feel for a solution’s usability and how much of a learning curve there will be for your team.

Now, consider this: how will the DCIM vendor provide a free trial? Online, software download with a timed license key? If your DCIM doesn’t provide a free trial, I would make this a red flag concern! DCIM can be a significant investment of time and money — not offering a free trial isn’t acceptable (in my opinion).

To get a free trial of our DCIM software, netTerrain, click here.

Buying DCIM Software 101: Licensing

A DCIM vendor should give you licensing that works for your needs. The license should be flexible enough for you to grow or increase the license count, as you continue to add more racks and devices to your DCIM solution. How is DCIM priced? By racks? Devices? Users? It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how DCIM vendors price their solutions!

Also, are there any add-on modules or is everything included in the price? It is better to compare apples to apples, especially if some vendors don’t have any additional add-ons and others that have several modules.

To learn more about DCIM licensing, click here.

Buying DCIM Software 101: Installation

Do you need an on-premises install, to install your DCIM solution on your own server? What are the system requirements? Can it run on a VM environment? SQL Cluster farm? Many organizations are shedding their data centers and moving everything to the Cloud. Can you set up your own Cloud instance or does the DCIM vendor have its own Cloud solution?

Buying DCIM Software 101: Training/Professional Services

The need for training you and your stakeholders who will be using netTerrain is paramount for a successful implementation. Does the DCIM vendor offer online or onsite training? What classes are offered? Do they provide implementation services such as site surveys to assist you with your deployment?

To learn more about the DCIM professional services we offer, click here.

Bottomline, buying a DCIM solution can be overwhelming at first — but, when you break it down into steps and get informed about what to look for, it gets a whole lot easier. I hope this helps you in your quest to find your perfect DCIM solution that will meet your needs. If you have questions about DCIM, or would like a free trial of our DCIM software, netTerrain, click here.

About Fred Koh

As a seasoned sales executive, Fred Koh serves as Director of Sales and is responsible for Graphical Networks sales and channel partner program, marketing strategy, and operations.