If you want a data center to be operated like a business in its own right, it needs to have the attributes of a business. The following sections discuss the key business attributes that apply to data centers.
Repeatability of processes
In order for any business to run efficiently, standard processes for the way things are to be done must be established, and once established, they must be followed consistently and with repeatability. As processes become routine, productivity goes up and errors go down. This principle applies to data centers just as well as it does to entire businesses.
Predictability of results and timing
If your processes are always performed the same way on a consistent basis (repeatability), they should always produce predictable results, and they should do it in about the same amount of time, every time (predictability). Data center infrastructure management software (DCIM) is the tool that takes advantage of the repeatability of your processes to enable you to predict the performance of your data center, in the presence of variations in processing load and other variables.
Supportability using documentation
In order for a business to be viable over the long term, it must have some institutional memory. Because staff turnover is a reality in any business, that institutional memory needs to be codified in formal documentation. For something as complex as a data center, accurate and highly detailed documentation is critical. Not only is it important to document the physical plant and all the equipment in it, you must also document the change management processes that are performed on the equipment. Maintaining this type of detail is exactly what DCIM is designed to do.
Accountability: Instant access to any aspect of the structure, performance, and value
A data center manager should be prepared at any moment to justify the value that the organization is receiving from the data center. To be able to do that, she must have instant access to the structure of the data center and how it’s performing at the moment. To have immediate access to an overview of operations, with the ability to drill down to any desired level of detail, the integrated view provided by data center infrastructure management is the only way to provide a responsive answer.
Documented: Diagrams, impact analysis, system of record
The documents used to provide the repeatability, predictability, supportability, and accountability mentioned in the preceding sections must be comprehensive, including detailed diagrams of all connections between components. The documentation should include a complete description of the system of record, from the most detailed level all the way up to an overview of the system. Another important part of the documentation is an impact analysis that predicts the way the system would be affected should a failure occur to one of its critical components, such as core router or storage switch. DCIM documentation can tell you what is affected upstream or downstream to help quantify production impacts.
Aligned: Goals of the data center are closely aligned with those of the enterprise
In large organizations, there is often a tendency for IT to operate as if it is an enterprise in its own right (an enterprise within an enterprise). This can lead to problems if the goals of IT leadership diverge from those of the enterprise in general. By tightening the integration between IT, finance, and facilities, as well as other functional groups in the organization, DCIM helps IT to see itself as an integral part of a larger entity rather than as an organization that is isolated by its raised floor from the parts of the organization that live on the ground floor.