What’s the secret sauce that makes a data center infrastructure management solution (DCIM) vendor rank highly in all those various top ten lists you see on […]

Need DCIM? Keep it Simple

What’s the secret sauce that makes a data center infrastructure management solution (DCIM) vendor rank highly in all those various top ten lists you see on […]


What’s the secret sauce that makes a data center infrastructure management solution (DCIM) vendor rank highly in all those various top ten lists you see on the web? Well, as I’ve discussed previously, there are numerous factors, such as how scalable or supported a solution is. Ultimately, though, and coming from my perspective as co-founder of a company that makes and sells the netTerrain DCIM solution (which consistently ranks in top ten DCIM lists), what makes a DCIM solution truly great comes down to this: usability (aka ease of use).

So, what does usability mean? To me, these are some top considerations:

  • Is the DCIM solution easy to install?
  • How hard or easy is it to start creating your data center infrastructure diagrams?
  • Do I really need all these extra features?

Usable DCIM = Simple Installation

Is it easy to install the software? Here’s a good rule of thumb: if it takes a vendor’s, our outside, professional services to get your software to install, imagine how hard it will be to actually start using your DCIM solution! So, just ask your vendor this, “how easy it is to install the software?”

Another consideration which may be important to you is if a DCIM vendor offers a Cloud solution in addition to an on-premise version. Cloud may make it easier to get started, instead of procuring hardware and software, along with the backups. If you are interested in a Cloud option, be sure to ask if you lose many features compared to an on-premise solution.

Usable DCIM = Simple to Get Started

If you’re evaluating a DCIM solution, implementation is key. I can’t tell you how many new customers we’ve received who have already purchased a different DCIM solution at some point in the past that encountered so many problems with implementation that they gave up and eventually went looking for a new solution. That’s not only money wasted in the original DCIM purchase, it’s time and money that could have been saved by reaping the benefits of DCIM while the software they purchased just sat on a shelf, collecting dust.

So, if you’re looking at a DCIM solution, find out how easy it will be for you and your colleagues to open up your DCIM application and start to build your data center rack diagrams. Does it, for instance, take a long time to figure this out? How hard is it to create port to port connections to manage your cabling infrastructure? Does the DCIM vendor even have cable management option?

To give you a personal story on this: I remember one of our netTerrain DCIM customers, a hospital in Boston, told me how they had assigned an intern to see how hard it was to diagram their data center room. It was simple, and, as a result, they selected netTerrain. They were happy that it did not take a team of consultants or force them into a rigid way of entering information; rather, they got their data center documentation started in literally minutes. To give you an idea of what I mean, if you are used to Visio or netViz, in netTerrain it’s just a matter of dragging objects from a catalog into your diagrams. How easy is that?

Usable DCIM = Simple Mission

What’s the purpose of DCIM for your organization? Do you want to plan for capacity, for example? Need to manage power, your assets, and/or your cabling? As we’ve written about in the past, DCIM solutions can promise to boil the ocean and features can include everything, and the kitchen sink. Too many features, especially features you won’t use and don’t need, can lead to major headaches. DCIM 3D views, for example, can slow your system way down when, chances are, you don’t actually need them.

A solution with too many features may also require your team to work in a very rigid way which isn’t conducive to getting the important work done: you want DCIM software that works for you and not the other way around. Bottom line on this? Extra features are as extra features do: if you need them, great…but if you don’t, you end up paying for them both in terms of price and usability issues.

In conclusion, in line with the “keep it simple” mindset, request some kind of free trial from a potential DCIM vendor for 14 or up to 30 days. Really use this time to see how easy it truly is to start documenting your data center and creating physical diagrams. With netTerrain DCIM, you can either test our software on the Cloud or install it on your server. You want to make sure that, no matter what vendor you test, you can install the software and learn how easy it is to install. Finally, consider the real reasons why you need a DCIM solution. Do you really need a ton of extra features and add-on modules in order to solve the issues that led you to look at DCIM software in the first place?

If you’re reading this, you may be interested in netTerrain DCIM. You can test netTerrain DCIM on our Cloud website here: https://www.netterrain.us/. If your organization cannot allow Cloud, testing an on-premise version is almost as simple: just request a download by contacting our Sales team here to see how easy it is to use netTerrain DCIM (without breaking the bank)!

Fred Koh
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.

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