Q&A: Do managers really know what's happening in their data center?

A new survey from Intel Data Center Manager and Dell reveals that around half of IT managers don't really know what's happening in their data centers.

It also finds that only 53 percent of IT managers use DCIM systems, which provide critical info about power and thermal usage, despite the fact that 44 percent experience power issues and 37 percent cooling issues in their data centers on a weekly basis.

Why is there a reluctance to address these problems? We spoke to Jeff Klaus, General Manager at Intel Data Center Solutions to find out more.

Are mangers showing complacency around what's happening in their data centers?

I don't think so. I think it's a challenging time to run a data center. You have the explosion of social media. You have the explosion of new devices coming in from your employees asking your IT department to support them. 

At the same time, your business has become more critical to run these workloads more efficiently than ever before. For operators, they get hit from all different angles - internally, externally, and then industry forces with new capabilities and tools that are available to them.

There are some opportunities to consistently, kind of get your head out from underneath the overwhelming amount of data and-and requests that are coming from your traditional stakeholders and look at what the industry is doing. 

We have white papers and examples from top-tier companies in each vertical that have implemented a solution and seen significant results from it.

What do you think are the main reasons for businesses not adopting DCIM solutions?

I think that some challenges include fringe organizations that do a part of DCIM and may be overpromising or promising some sets of capabilities that they might not deliver. 

Or there's a sales process that can bring some capabilities, but the support and the implementation may not have met the expectations for large, 10-plus data center environments.

It takes a lot of resources to implement these solutions properly. Individuals should factor into that equation with their heads up, realizing that the resources required to implement it properly are just as important as making the decision on which solution to go with. There are opportunities there that will continue. 

Data centers are going to continue to see additional tools. We're going to continue innovating. It’s a matter of picking a partner that you can grow with, that you trust and that it can implement alongside you.

Can DCIM be about more than just preventing disasters?

We have white papers and examples that show that if these tools were available during the Fukushima earthquake, and known by the data center operators at that time, they would have done things differently. The specific data is from NTT, a white paper is on our website.

It's interesting to see that it's an insurance policy to really avoid scenarios to get into with disasters. It's also an emergency switch that you might not have had before to shut off your water if it's leaking in an environment. 

That's where you see you have more tools rather than [less] tools to be able to make your decisions to be able to understand your options, if something goes wrong that you didn't anticipate.

What factors should people look for when choosing a DCIM solution?

There are many factors because there are many different types of solutions. The analysts at Gartner have done a pretty good job recently, with their magic quadrant. 

They've determined which DCIM providers should rise to the top with the way that they're evaluating one another, because there are so many solutions that claim to be in the space.

For an operator, it depends on what areas of concern they might have. It also might depend on what competencies they feel they have. If you want something that's more balanced IT devices and facilities, there are some players in this space. 

If you have more concerns about IT devices there are solutions that angle towards that as a solution provider. So you can look to IntelDCM, as we're trying to beat Switzerland in this DCIM environment.

Intel has over 50 different license agreements in this space because we are advising a majority of the companies that are taking advantage of the tools and solutions we provide to help them run more efficiently. 

Additionally, you can use your Intel person as an individual to get objective advice from. Or you can try a couple of solutions out; I encourage people to go and run a beta program. Run it in a test environment. Get a feeling for the implementation of that. 

We found that resources being allocated to implement solutions are often neglected and shouldn't be. There's a lot of resources available to help you choose properly.

You can see more detail of the report's findings in infographic format below.

DCIM Survey[Savy]01-21

Ian Barker worked in information technology before discovering that writing about computers was easier than fixing them. He has worked for a staff writer on a range of computer magazines including PC Extreme, was editor of PC Utilities, and has written for TechRadar, BetaNews, IT Pro Portal, and LatestGadgets.