Before you decide on DCIM software for your organization, do your homework. Ask well-considered questions and fully evaluate a potential DCIM vendor. Why? Unfortunately, not all […]

Need DCIM? Questions Everyone Should Ask in a Demo

Before you decide on DCIM software for your organization, do your homework. Ask well-considered questions and fully evaluate a potential DCIM vendor. Why? Unfortunately, not all […]

image-of-woman-looking-quizzical, probably considering buying DCIM software

Before you decide on DCIM software for your organization, do your homework. Ask well-considered questions and fully evaluate a potential DCIM vendor.

Why?

Unfortunately, not all DCIM solutions are created equal and some tools that look good in a demo or on paper may just fall short of your requirements. So much about a successful DCIM project depends on the software, and vendor, you choose.

Before you even get to the demo stage, however, be sure you’ve defined what you need the software to do for you (hint: define requirements that are both tangible and achievable). Need to track data center space? Capacity? Power and/or cabling? Know your goals. For more on this, check out this article on DCIM software.

Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential DCIM vendors down to a manageable handful (or less), it’s time for the fun of the demo phase (fun could be ironic, depending on how you feel about demos). Though DCIM vendors may want to show you everything (and the kitchen sink), make sure you keep the demo focused and zero in on seeing what the software does that will actually help your project and your organization.

I suggest that, when you are zeroing in on a few specific vendors, you ask the following questions as they are crafted to leave you with a strong idea of whether or not your purchase will not only be a strong one, but a lasting one…

”Can you provide a Proof of Concept (POC)?”

Though I will go through a list of questions, the question above is the one that you should ask everyone. Your vendor should be more than happy to a proof-of-concept to you.

If they refuse, that’s a red flag: pick elsewhere as the software may be too buggy or not firing on full cylinders.

”How long has the company been in business of DCIM?”

You should find out if a potential DCIM vendor has been around for some time. You don’t necessarily want to buy software from a brand new DCIM vendor or pay money to a big vendor who is going to exit DCIM sooner rather than later, end-of-life their customer support as well as all updates to the software, and leave you wondering how did I get in this position and how do I find and migrate to another solution?

Do some further prying: find out if the DCIM solution is a primary focus or if they are mainly selling other software or hardware solutions? DCIM may just be an afterthought with hardware purchases and they could end up sun-setting the product…leaving you stranded.

”Do you have customer references?”

To be honest, I wasn’t certain I would add this one to the list. Why? Well, of course vendors will provide references and they can cherry pick with whom you speak). If they decline to provide you with customer references, that’s a run-for-the-hills red flag and I would seriously reconsider doing business with them.

Better than merely asking for customer references would be to ask this: “do you have a reference with a Case Study?”

You can read it, hand this to your management, under their issues, how and why the vendor was selected, and ultimately the benefits they achieved in using the DCIM vendor ( as well as talk to them).

”Can I get a product roadmap?”

Asking this will help with question #2 as both of these questions are designed to find out if a vendor is around for the long haul.

If a DCIM vendor is always coming out with new releases, you know the vendor is committed in supporting its customers and you feel more assured that the company is not going anywhere. You don’t want to end up stuck finding new software after all the money you just spent…right?

”How long will implementation take…and how many people will it involve?”

In the past, I’ve written about nightmares customers using other DCIM solutions had…such as never being able to implement a purchased DCIM solution or having had it take months upon months (and, in some cases, years) just to get it started! You want to avoid this and a few questions during your demo can help greatly.

Your DCIM vendor should give you an idea on how long it will take to take and how much staff is needed on both ends to get your DCIM software up and running. For example, will it take a few days, weeks, months (how many months)?

Further, does the vendor provide aid and guidance through the entire implementation process, including migrating any existing data (spreadsheets, API connectors, database migration). What are the best practices to get your DCIM up and running quickly, and ask about training, and how customer service is handled after implementation?
The last thing you need is to severely underestimate the amount of effort it would take to deploy a DCIM solution.

Make sure to have an established time frame and deadline in your decision-making system and make your decisions as quickly as possible before your team loses momentum on a project.

To sum up, adding a DCIM solution to your data center infrastructure to help with energy and asset management, capacity planning, change management, cable management, and more is a good and sound investment; being careful to select the right partner to see you through the entire process is even that more important.

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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