“Yeah, it all sounds great but honestly, this seems like a lot of work: how long is this DCIM project going to take us?”

The above is real question from a data center manager interested in purchasing data center infrastructure management software (DCIM), we hear questions like that a lot as vendors of DCIM software. In fact, if you’re thinking about buying DCIM software, it’s a question you really should ask before you buy.

DCIM Implementation: Timeline
Truthfully, the ‘how long’ question is a tough one because it depends on various factors. One key factor to ask is: what are you trying to do?

For example, what is the scale of the DCIM project you are implementing? Is it just for the devices and cabinets in one data center? Or maybe its that — plus all the connections? It makes a difference.

Another question that will help determine how long it will take to implement DCIM: do you already have data to help populate the documentation? And, just as important: is it good data? Next, what is the format of the data? Is this in Excel or maybe it’s in some data in a network monitoring system? Or maybe in a home grown database?

Once you know the scope, data and its format then you can get an idea of the time to implement. The DCIM software vendor with whom you are working should be able to give you some ballpark, or maybe even more specific, implementation figures on how long it will take you to implement, based on your specifications and the DCIM software itself. So…when you talk to your DCIM vendor make sure you consider the data you have, the format and the scope.

Another implementation question to ask is: what obstacles to expect, for example: installation. Will you have a place to install the server and what are the requirements of the server? What about all the items that go along with installation, from permission to the server and database, who will do this installation, and who will manage the database. How about certificates and firewall rules? In general, you want to go over the installation guide and review with the vendor what to expect. Or, if you are looking at SAAS, you will want to review what to expect with a SAAS instance, firewall rules needed, what you can and can’t do with the Vendors SAAS instance vs on premises.

DCIM Implementation: Obstacles
The time to implement depends on the scale of your DCIM project, and the data you have (or don’t have) — but what about potential obstacles? Afterall, those can also impact how long it’s going to take to really get your DCIM project off the ground.

Below is a quick overview of the major obstacles to implementing DCIM (and yes, we already went over a couple):

DCIM Implementation: Obstacles Overview

  • Time
    The first major obstacle is time (which we discussed earlier). So ‘the how’ long may be an obstacle.
  • Data
    Data is an obstacle. Well, really bad or inconsistent data is. If you don’t have good data then you will have to go get it — which will add to your timeline.
  • Money
    Money…yeah that’s an obstacle. Even if you use some kind of free solution, there is no free ride here. You have to get a budget so you need to talk to the vendors about how much it will cost. Consider not just the cost of vendor license but also go ahead and factor in your own costs for the hardware, VM, database software, etc (if you don’t have these).
  • Red Tape
    Of course, you’ll need to get approvals. What is the approval process that you would need to follow? Sign offs? One other item I always like to mention is the “committed” factor: you don’t want to jump through a bunch of hoops only to have management jump ship at the eleventh hour.
  • Manpower
    Beyond just agreeing to the project, will management actually give you the time to get the work done. You already have a job…so will this be a part time job for you or will it be setup where you will have time to get this done?
  • Consultants
    Finally, there is the obstacle of the consultants…or lack thereof. This is a tricky one, because it could mean trouble either way. When you walk to a vendor ask about the team of people they recommend you have on staff helping you get this thing installed and up and running. Is this going to be like some SAP project where you need the vendor to send over a staff of full time people for six months? Or can you get up and running with documentation and a weekend?

Bottomline? Before you invest in DCIM software, you want to gain an understanding of approximately how long it will take to implement your project as will impact your overall ROI. To get an estimate of time-to-implement, make sure you have an overview of the scale of your project.

Next, understand what condition your data is in (or isn’t).

Finally, run down the potential obstacles you may face. Don’t be afraid to ask your bosses, or the vendors, tough questions: the work you put in now will pay off later.

About Jason Sherman

As Graphical Networks’ Sales Engineering and Support Services Manager, Jason Sherman leads the pre and post sales cycle with the entire Graphical Networks software portfolio, and ensures current customers are able to use the software to its fullest potential.