Lately, we’ve received many requests from prospective customers who need to migrate away from their current data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software. Why this new influx? […]

Three Tips Before You Migrate DCIM Tools

Lately, we’ve received many requests from prospective customers who need to migrate away from their current data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software. Why this new influx? […]

Lately, we’ve received many requests from prospective customers who need to migrate away from their current data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software.

Why this new influx?

Perhaps it’s, in part, because iTracs has been phased out, or it’s, in some cases, customers are simply looking for a better alternative (we have also seen requests for migrating away from solutions such as: Rackwise, nLyte, FNT software, and others).

Whatever the reason (and without beating my chest too much), in this blog we’ll discuss three tips and best practices for migrating from your DCIM software successfully.

1.DCIM & Support
The number one reason that we’ve seen driving a customer’s choice in migrating from one DCIM tool to another is a lack of customer support. Of course, if your current DCIM solution is being phased out (read more about our thoughts on the longevity of DCIM and big vendors by clicking here), you’re naturally not getting any support — however, even if a DCIM vendor is still active, we have seen how much of a struggle it can be to get something as basic as device or rack modeling.

As both a DCIM vendor and the product manager here at Graphical Networks, it always boggles my mind when I hear stories of how customers are left waiting weeks — and even months — to get a device modeled or even to do the most basic of customizations such as assigning new properties to objects…but, that’s on them.

If a lack of support is your primary reason for migrating to a new DCIM solution, make sure the replacement vendor you choose really is going to deliver on that front.

How, exactly, do you test for something like that?

You could ask some of their customers. You can check out some of the reviews on websites such as Capterra — although, I would take these reviews with a grain of salt as it is all too easy for vendors to try and inflate those numbers (and perhaps even create reviews that aren’t necessarily legit).

This is what I suggest: put the potential DCIM vendor to task and ask them to model a few devices. How easily the vendor agrees to this, and how long they take to do so, should give you some behind-the-scenes insights (you can read about our device modeling process, at Graphical Networks, by clicking here).

2. DCIM & Features-Schmeatures
Less often than for support reasons, customers choose to migrate because their original DCIM vendor simply didn’t deliver on what was initially promised.

This one is a bit tricky: if you’re looking for a better alternative because you’ve been burned by a previous tool) — what guarantee will you have that the new DCIM software will deliver?

The good news is this: it’s likely that your past disappointments have taught you some of the tricks of the trade (and pitfalls to avoid) which could help you identify vendors that are the cream of the crop and vendors that are, well, anything but.

To sieve out the best from the worst, you could request demos — but, in this case the best way to test for functionality is to get your hands dirty and try out the tool for yourself. A DCIM vendor should be able to give a test instance …for free.

For example, at Graphical Networks, we offer netTerrain.com for your testing needs in addition to free downloads so that you can test the software in house. Other vendors may also offer similar cloud-based environments and downloads.

3. DCIM & Data Migration
This one is always on everyone’s radar — and for good reason: you really don’t want to start from scratch when migrating to a new system.

When switching DCIM platforms, you should be able to automatically get all of the data from the previous tool. This will usually include: your floor plans, racks, cabinets, devices (and their sub components like cards and ports) along with all the properties and all the connectivity in between. Ideally, you should be able to migrate all of the fiber and copper cabling including circuits, strands and more.

In terms of monitoring, you may have to recreate connectors in the new platform or set up discovery from scratch.

To ensure your data migration process will be successful, what could be better than taking it out for a test drive? You should be able to request a mini-trial from a vendor you’re considering: just provide some of the data in some sort of format such as CSV, Excel, or some database and then have the vendor migrate the small test case.

Note that, while some vendors may do this for free, even if it’s a paid engagement it could well be worth it. And, as an extra safeguard, if the vendor claims that they are able to migrate the data…then why not have it written in a contract that you are guaranteed that your existing data will be able to be used?

To summarize: if you are planning to migrate to a new DCIM tool, heed these words from poet Dylan Thomas, ‘do not go gently into that good night’. In other words: do not go gently into buying any new software. Perform due diligence: investigate the quality of support a vendor provides, ensure that any features you need will, in fact, deliver — and be certain that you can migrate your existing data with ease.

Jan Durnhofer
Jan Durnhofer
As CEO / Product and Engineering Manager, Jan joined Graphical Networks with the purpose of creating the most advanced DCIM and IT visualization company in the market.

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