data center cablesAs Frank Sinatra might have sung, ‘2007 was a very good year’. Apple introduced iPhone, the final Harry Potter book was published, and the Departed won an Oscar (hey, I’m from Boston). It’s also the year that DCIM software really made a splash on the tech market and major software vendors took notice and followed suit.

Alongside major players – from Gartner to CA Technologies – entering the DCIM market, came major hype. Big companies have big marketing budgets and those units and widgets have gotta sell. Unfortunately, all the marketing dollars in the world couldn’t make DCIM be something it’s just not. Vendors such as CA Technologies, and many others, were as quick to exit the DCIM market…and exits like these left tech anaylssts scratching their heads and wondering…“is DCIM just hype…what happened?”

Here’s my take:

When we cover DCIM and all that it encompasses in this blog, more often than not we talk about what you need to do and not what the features can do. This is our approach because DCIM isn’t defined by any one feature (or group of them): it’s defined by what it can do for your data center, plant, and networks. If you’ve been reading our blogs with any frequency, you’ve heard us say: “DCIM is in the eye of the beholder”. We are deliberate in this because we don’t want you to end up with a DCIM solution that doesn’t do what you need it to do.

I’ll use an analogy to give this greater meaning. When someone says “medical care” you don’t necessarily know exactly what they mean. What do you know? That they need some kind of comprehensive care for the health of their bodies. Maybe that care is to maintain health, maybe that care is to correct a serious issue, and maybe that care is just palliative. Depending upon what is needed, you could end up needing a cardiologist, a nutritionist, a phlebotomist, or a gastroenterologist (or maybe all of that and more).

DCIM is somewhat similar to this idea: DCIM is an umbrella term for software that is dedicated to giving your data center and ecosystem the care and attention it needs to be healthy. It’s not, and it shouldn’t be, defined by features alone. As with medical care, DCIM can come with many different subsets: for example, you may need power monitoring to lower your PUE with DCIM, you may not. You may have some gigantic cabling management headaches or you may be in real hot water in planning for capacity….you may have both issues and you may have many more.

Because DCIM is about meeting the unique needs of the organization’s IT infrastructure, you will be hard-pressed to find one DCIM software vendor who’s a one-man-show and can do it all for you. And, as we’ve said before in this blog, if you do find a vendor claiming to have the answer to everything that ails you….run (just as you likely wouldn’t go to one doctor for both heart surgery and a colonoscopy).

The kind of DCIM you need will depend upon where your biggest headaches live. DCIM software such as netTerrain comes with a great deal of functions that work very well for our users who need cabling management, asset management from the street to the port level, outside plant software and power monitoring; it may not work for folks who really need computational fluid dynamics, however.

Now that you’ve gotten the background, here’s the rub: DCIM isn’t going to save the world from a zombie attack anytime soon (sorry, it’s not Chuck Norris). Unfortunately, when DCIM first hit the market around ten years ago, it was billed as exactly that: powerhouse software that could do everything and boil the ocean. As you can see now, it can’t.

Clearly, the hype didn’t (and couldn’t) live up what DCIM actually is: as a result, DCIM lost some of the initial, and undeserved, luster that tech journals had hastily given it. Despite the hype, and despite the letdown, DCIM today continues to be increasing in demand. As data center costs continue to skyrocket, and infrastructure expands, the need for DCIM solutions that can treat infrastructure problems and keep it healthy just continues the grow (as with medical care).