TRACKIT welcome DCMWORKS as their latest key partner

istock_000032248938_xxxlarge-3TRACKIT is delighted to partner with DCMWORKS as an Audit and Software partner.

TRACKIT Solutions Limited are delighted to announce their latest key partnership with DCMWORKS who join their partner program as an “Audit and Software Partner”. This partnership expands TRACKIT’s reach with DCMWORKS operating in North America.

DCMWORKS have carried out hundreds of data centre migrations and provide a pain-free process which upon completion allows companies to gain improved documentation and better overall data centre management.

The partnership with TRACKIT will allow them to effectively gather quality data at the planning stage of their migrations in a reduce timeframe. The TRACKIT software will provide them with quality data, fast to enhance their process and maintain accurate asset data.

As part of the partner onboarding process DCMWORKS will complete training that imparts best practice and expertise to deliver high quality services and solutions to data centre clients.

steve-beber-head-shotSteve Beber, CEO of TRACKIT Solutions commented “Having been working with Nathan and the team at DCMWORKS for some time the natural progression for the two businesses is to join forces in a partnership that helps customers in the North America region have local support for audit services and implementing the TRACKIT asset management solution. The experience and expertise of the two companies partnering brings a wealth of knowledge and industry led knowledge that will benefit our customers significantly.”

nathan“We are thrilled to announce our formal partnership with TRACKIT Solutions,” said Nathan Weiss, DCMWORKS Vice President. “Our TRACKIT partnership will allow DCMWORKS to deliver another level of service to our customers.  TRACKIT provides a quick and accurate solution to support physical audits, ongoing asset management, gathering data for import into DCIM tools and more.”

For more information on our partner program please view our partner page or email us at info@trackit-solutions.com or on 01603 381382.

Why DCIM projects often fail and what can be done about it?

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With vendors pulling out of the DCIM market, a general feeling of disillusionment from customers and confusion of potential prospects considering effective software solutions for managing a modern data centre, there is much current debate in the industry about what’s next for DCIM?

Some industry experts believe DCIM is dead, whilst others believe it needs a complete re-boot with standardisation of offering being driven by the industry itself. But to understand what is next for DCIM the natural starting point is to consider why DCIM implementation projects fail to deliver versus expectations AND what can be done about it.

Typically speaking, activity cycles between facilities, IT and the business are on different timelines: Facilities plan 10 years ahead, IT plans maybe 3 years ahead, and the business would like to see changes and results in weeks or months.  In addition to this, terminology between various parts of the business varies and frequently causes confusion.   For example, the term ‘infrastructure’ has a different definition, depending on whom you are talking with.  There are also several different DCIM products on the market, some of which have been in development for a number of years. However, they are not all like for like, and it’s a complex area.  The perception of the process to implement DCIM currently seems to be flawed. DCIM is not a discovery tool, and when expectations are high, it rarely delivers on the value that it can offer, without the correct foundations in place.  Customers often adopt full DCIM without scoping out what they need and what it delivers….and there are viable alternatives to a full DCIM implementation, such as DCAM plus power / capacity monitoring.

Markets are generally considered mature when all the vendors offer a cohesive message about what the type of product or service offers.  With DCIM, this is still not the case even after several years of it being around, so what is the problem?

 In 2010 Gartner predicted that by 2014, DCIM penetration would be up to 60%.  In 2015, The Uptime Institute data centre survey showed that only 27% of those surveyed had purchased a commercial DCIM solution.  The simple fact is that the market is not maturing as we have expected it to.

Gartner, for its Magic Quadrant, defines DCIM as this: “Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools monitor, measure, manage and sometimes control data centre resources and energy consumption of both IT-related equipment (such as servers, storage and network switches) and facilities infrastructure components (such as power distribution units [PDUs] and computer room air conditioners [CRACs]). DCIM tools are data-center-specific, rather than general building management system (BMS) tools, and are used to optimize data centre power, cooling, networking resources and physical space.”

The problem with this description is that for a DCIM implementation to be successful, software alone is not the answer – we need to understand and design our entire data centre architecture.  We should also be looking at proper scoping from the outset, establishing a base of accurate asset data, the right hardware, systems integration, consulting, training and staff skills, as well as internal organisational and process changes.  The promises made by various vendors, whilst not untrue, have given the impression that all organisations can reach DCIM utopia in a relatively short timeframe, and it’s this flawed planning that has ridiculed many business cases, and made a high percentage of DCIM customers disillusioned with the product that they have chosen. Not only that, but they could also feel locked in to that vendor, and have footed a series of rather large bills to boot.

Software on its own isn’t the answer

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With its capacity to create significant energy efficiency and operational gains, Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is a highly useful and effective tool when deployed properly.

However, all too often there is a failure to build a solid foundation for DCIM – something that can only be achieved by having accurate and effective asset management in place. One of the key reasons why all too often DCIM’s potential is unfulfilled is the continued failure to established that foundation of accurate asset data to build other intelligent layers upon. That, plus robust IMAC processes in place and regular validation audits to maintain those high levels of accuracy so that reporting on the entire estate can be trusted.

The other fundamental error is to jump in straight to solution mode of the DCIM being the answer, without the proper scoping of effective data centre management requirements, from not only a software point of view but integrations, processes and people required to support whatever solution is put in place.

Many of the pain points are well documented and collectively we are starting to learn our lessons.  DCIM implementation spans several aspects of a business, including both facilities and IT – neither of which are simple environments.  Below are just a few examples of the pain points documented that DCIM had promised, but failed to solve:

  • Unable to know what is connected to what (manage relationships and dependencies)
  • Unable to find available resources (rack space, power, cooling, network, IP addresses, etc)
  • Companies constrained by proprietary DCIM software
  • Challenges aligning legacy and new systems with a BMS
  • Difficulties keeping track with changes and de-installations preventing real-time understanding of what’s in your data centre.
  • Poor monitoring and aligning of legacy infrastructure resulting in significant financial losses
  • Critical gaps in management information between IT and Facilities Managers
  • Unable to perform accurate capacity planning
  • Unable to comply with internal and external regulatory audits
  • Lack of standards-based, database connectivity, APIs, for integration with internal systems

The flaws with the process –  Why DCIM Projects really fail

There are several common issues in our environments that haven’t been considered, and a number of common oversights in the implementation of the programme. Here is why the programmes really fail:

  1. Understanding your businesses needs – This is the most critical starting point – work down from top level business objectives. Only add in elements that directly link to business objectives and be sure to scope requirements fully.
  2. Tendering for too much! – There is no point in finding really expensive solutions if you don’t need half of the functionality – relates to scoping point above
  3. Hype from vendors around promised benefits – Please, please ignore the hype, and take ownership of the programme to realise the benefits when and where you need them. Ask for evidence of functionality in the form of a thorough demo AND ideally supported by usage case studies.
  4. Upselling from vendors – Again, don’t buy anything that you don’t need. Always refer back to the business case / scope, which defines your business needs.
  5. Setting up the programme and stakeholders – It’s a programme, not a project. Set it up as such, assign roles and clear responsibilities and hold regular meetings.  Set up the individual sub-projects with their own project managers with clear expectations of timings and budgets for each.
  6. Getting your internal processes and procedures in check – Before your programme is initiated, have all your processes documented and in play. You will be going no-where without this one. When assessing vendors ascertain the levels of implementation support required / given and costs.
  7. Knowing what’s in your DC – This ties in with the above – all change processes need to be in place, and they can only be effective if you know what is where. A Data Centre Asset audit is recommended to establish full visibility and accuracy maintained through validation audits and IMAC process.
  8. Not laying out each tranche and project within the programme and understanding the costs associated – Take ownership of the cost and benefit management within the programme – don’t let the vendors own it. It’s your environment.  If you are deeply involved with this part of the planning, then you will uncover all the hidden costs, and be able to plan and set expectations accordingly.
  9. Not linking benefits to a timeline of business requirements – The benefits mentioned above should be prioritized and communicated with the business. These programmes take a long time to deliver fully, so you need to show value along the way, but that value has to match the business requirements.  Timeline it – it’s a powerful tool that will help you maintain your reputation. Ensure it’s agreed by key stakeholders from the outset.
  10. Purchasing a standalone system that doesn’t talk to anything else – It is rarely advisable nowadays to create software that doesn’t talk to anything else. Create a flexible architecture that can evolve, and only engage with vendors who will work with that.

If you can address the above 10 points in your DCIM programme, you may become a future DCIM success, and goodness knows we need more of those.

Basic RGBYour chance to shape the future of DCIM

So where is the DCIM industry going? It’s clear from the above that something needs to change and fast –  change needs to be driven by the industry itself to be fit for purpose. That’s why we need feedback and opinions from vendors, customers, prospects, suppliers and leading industry experts. That’s why the DCIM Deliberations Group has been formed.

The working group was setup amongst growing unease in the DCIM arena and its composition is a mix of industry experts. The initiative is completely non-commercial, and is by the industry for the industry.

We argue that the general population, even those in the data Centre industry itself, does not fully comprehend the differences between the vendors to make a good comparison and that there is not a cohesive message given from them all. So how can we expect customers to understand the DCIM proposition, functionality and benefits to adopt and implement it successfully?

 Our key objectives for this piece of work:

1) To provide clarity around the state of the DCIM market and possible future directions

2) To offer a benchmarking framework where companies can intelligently go to tender for the right DCIM solutions for them

3) To educate around the process of implementing DCIM in order that companies see ROI in expected timeframes

Our Team:  Myself, Steve Beber, Alfonso Arias, Daniel Tautges, Monika Grass, Ken Peters.

To deliver on the objectives we are issuing a market wide global survey to get 1st hand insight from the industry.

We want people to get involved in this survey to find out what is REALLY happening, so that both end users, and vendors alike can figure out where to go next. We believe the DCIM industry is reaching a crisis point, and needs to adapt or evolve.

 We need first hand information to know where to go next. It is time to speak – please get involved by taking our survey

 You can also get involved in the ongoing debate by joining the LinkedIn Group

 For more information on our initiative, please click here

10 reasons why great Asset Management benefits your Data Centre’s bottom line

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In any one enterprise organisation right now, there may be 4 or 5 separate asset management tracking systems or, more likely, several separate spreadsheets with different naming conventions and probably some overlaps and outdated information.  That sounds like a pretty damming assessment of the state of the knowledge we have about our Data Centres today, but if you think about your own company, have you got a single source of the truth?

This article outlines 10 reasons why great asset management can positively impact your bottom line.

Have a look at the following questions and if you answer no to any of them, then keep reading….

  • Do you have a common DC asset management system across your business?
  • Are you sure you don’t have any ghost / comatose servers / assets in your inventory?
  • Are you positive that you are tracking all assets – eg. tracking blades and the chassis?
  • Is the Finance asset inventory the same as the IT one?
  • Do you have flexible architectures allowing integration in your IT systems for asset tracking and management.
  • Are you 100% sure that you know exactly what you have in your DC? Do you have an up-to-date CMDB?

To start, you need to know the scope of requirements for asset management within your business.  Start from the top – your business objectives, and work down from there.  Then read on to see the benefits that you could realise in a relatively short time frame.

Did you know:

“Enterprises that systematically manage the lifecycle of their IT assets will reduce cost per asset by as much as 30 percent during the first year, and between five and 10 percent annually during the next five years.” – Gartner

So, what is good DC Asset Management, and why do we need it?

  1. Good processes and procedures
    To ensure successful moves / adds / changes, good processes and procedures are required, based on solid asset management – knowing where the assets are located, who owns them, what maintenance there is against them and so on. These internal cycles are saved instantly.
  2. Efficient resource / IMAC management
    If you know where everything is, then you don’t have to send resources out to run an audit. The entire change project takes fewer resources, and is lower risk to complete.
  3. Single source of the truth through the entire stack, and business
    Capacity planning runs through the full stack, from the physical infrastructure, to the application layer, so it makes sense to manage it all in one place. An integration with your company ERP systems ensure one single database. No more pointless reconciliation projects.
  4. Good foundation for DCIM and SDDC
    If a data centre area has a high weekend bandwidth, and compute utilization, then ensuring that the appropriate power is available is critical to keeping the service alive. So the very foundations to implementing DCIM or a Software Defined Data Centre, is ensuring you have both IT Asset Management and DC Asset Management in the same system.  You can’t make decisions or program automated actions without it.
  5. ISO9001 (and other standards) compliance
    If you have a successfully implemented an Asset Management system, ticking the boxes for a compliance audit will be a doddle – at least from an asset and category perspective.
  6. Purchase, lease, and warranty information
    All of this information is stored and tracked within most asset management systems – the collated information ensures that you can get the best service / price possible from your vendors.
  7. Owners – what happens when someone leaves
    Comatose, or ghost servers frequently occur when they are orphaned – eg their owner leaves the company. If you are tracking ownership, then you can reassign that ownership when someone leaves the organisation and utilize the assets appropriately.
  8. Open-source APIs, easy access
    With the Internet of things (IOT) maturing and the digital mesh becoming more of a reality, it rarely makes sense nowadays to create stand alone software that doesn’t talk to anything else. Make sure your environment has a flexible architecture, and the vendors your choose should have an open-source mindset when it comes to integrating with other systems.  Some of the more forward-thinking providers are catching on to this, and making the application very easy to access.
  9. Real-time reporting instead of constantly assessing or auditing
    A transparent environment is the most efficient. Yes it takes a little bit more effort up front to keep the CMDB up-to-date, but if your staff are strict with it, you will create real agility within your data centre.  Imagine being able to answer the queries from the business instantly!
  10. Migrations / mergers
    As with the above, the auditing part of the project is already complete, saving you around 30% of the resource cost if you had to audit before a migration.

My final word on this is that you must have your internal processes and procedures clear, in order to successfully implement great asset management and realise all the above benefits.  If not, you will fall at the first hurdle.

So there is nothing stopping you – start driving improvements to your DC’s bottom line now!

Find out about TRACKIT PRO for DCAM

The drama of migrating from legacy Data Centre Infrastructure Management systems – Act 1 Scene 1

office.1209640_1920Inside the CTO’s office somewhere in the City of London the CTO is not a happy person.  The Data Centre Operations Manager nervously clutches the print out of the email he received that morning from the awfully nice DCIM salesman.

Here’s how it plays out:

CTO          “What do you mean my DCIM is a legacy system?  We haven’t fully implemented it yet and it has already cost more than the Chilcot enquiry.  The business case and project implementation was a joke.”

DC Mgr    “With some minor tweaks to the risk and change control registers we are projected to come in on time and budget for the original implementation CTO.”

CTO          “Yes, but only because you budgeted 200% of the vendor quote, six times the labour and had a project plan signed off that makes HS2 look like a branch line.  Come to think about it you ordered it before the Chilcot enquiry.  Now you tell me that it will soon be out of support.”

DC Mgr  “Well, as you say, we bought it a long time ago CTO.  Technology moves on.  The new version should be vastly better.  Lots more DCIM widgets and gizmos.”

CTO          “Oh good, the lads like widgets.  Will it use 3D modelling that allows us to zoom around the data centres in an exact replica of the Millenium Falcon as it appeared in the digitally re-mastered collector’s edition of The Empire Strikes Back?”

With a struggle the CTO restrains himself, but something the DC Manager had said is still nagging at his conscience.

CTO          “What do you mean ‘the new version should be vastly better’”.

DC Mgr  “Well CTO, the vendor is very modern, very into Agile and DevOps so it is so new they haven’t finished writing it yet.”

CTO         “That doesn’t sound good.  You must have seen it?”

DC Mgr  “Oh yes CTO, the 3D looks very impressive and sounds brilliant.”

CTO         “What do you mean it ‘sounds brilliant’, does it have sound effects to?  Like the Millenium Falcon?”

DC Mgr   “Well yes, the demo was hosted on our IaaS.  The image resolution was so good you could hear all the server fans in the DC spin up as they zoomed around.”

CTO          “The fans went faster?”

DC Mgr   “Oh yes, it was really good.  And there was another benefit too, the network slowed down at the same time, which reduced the speed that the incident tickets arrive.”

CTO         “Hmmm, something slightly concerning about that, but I’ll explain it later.  Going back to this upgrade they want us to buy, why isn’t it included in our annual maintenance and support?  After all, that costs us hundreds of thousands a year.”

DC Mgr  “I asked them that, they said that covers the legacy platform, but there is only so much more they can do with that.  Getting the DCIM to appear on mobile devices and modern browsers means re-writing it in HMTL5, which makes it totally new.  They need to use a different database too, Oracle is rather expensive and MSsql server 2003 is out of support.”

CTO         “I see.  OK, before I can consider signing off an upgrade I need to be sure we have realised the benefits of the current system.”

The Data Centre Manager shuffles his feet uncomfortably.

DC Mgr  “Well, we have all our assets in the system so we know where everything is.  Servers, devices, the whole eight yards.  Only in 2 dimensions obviously.”

CTO          “OK.  And what is the benefit of that?”

DC Mgr    “Well, we use it for space planning, capacity management and even have some basic workflows so we can send tickets out, move stuff around in the DC and the system automatically updates so we know how the asset has changed.”

CTO          “That is pretty cool, and all that is in the tool?”

DC Mgr    “Not exactly, we had to buy some special tablets, bar code readers and mini barcode printers and integrate them into the DCIM….. but another vendor, TRACKIT, did all that.”

CTO        “And what about connectivity? Patch cables, power connections and the like?”

DC Mgr  “All that will be in the new version.”

CTO          “So we don’t have it at the moment?”

DC Mgr   “Err no.  Like the salesman says, the new version will have lots more in it.”

CTO           “You mentioned integration.  I recall we spent a fortune integrating the current DCIM with our back-end systems.  How do we replicate that in the upgrade.”

DC Mgr    “The salesman said not to worry about that, he can hide all that professional services work in the implementation costs.”

CTO      “So none of these new-fangled APIs into mainstream systems then?”

DC Mgr   “Where is the fun in that?  And the really good news is that if we replace all our power infrastructure at the same time, the DCIM should talk to that seamlessly.  You will be able to log in from anywhere and power down anything, any time you like.”

CTO         “Brilliant, I can’t see the flaws, provided they give me a 3D view and the Millenium Falcon, where do I sign?”

Whilst I hope this conversation has not literally taken place anywhere it rather sadly reflects the real drama and reality for many early DCIM adopters and some of the challenges they face today.  Costs were far higher than anticipated, implementation timeframes excessive and customers found themselves locked into expensive support and maintenance costs wondering when they would realise the benefits of their investment.  The DCIM offers today are almost all built using legacy software and stories of failed implementations abound.

I have yet to see a business case for DCIM that stands up to scrutiny and that is a shame because the concept is sound and presents opportunities to increase the quality of the Configuration Management System / Configuration Management Database.  Before signing that DCIM upgrade have you considered alternatives that deliver most of what DCIM is used for every day but at a fraction of the cost?

I was attracted to the TRACKIT proposition.  It is not DCIM but a Data Centre Asset Management platform that offers a pre-built use case that delivers what Data Centre Operations staff actually need, namely:

  • Data centre space planning
  • IT Asset Management
  • Physical network connectivity management
  • Physical power connectivity management – including usage monitoring
  • Basic workflows and ticketing via integration with your service desk suite.

And because it is a user configured platform, you can do your own implementation and create new use cases to meet your needs e.g. software license monitoring, end user device tracking, fleet management, the possibilities are endless.

It is a modern HTML5 application using an open source database that is delivered on Docker swarm so it scales out, and can run on private IaaS if required.……. and all for less than the cost of the maintenance of your current DCIM.

Find out more about TRACKIT PRO for DCAM

TRACKIT welcome RoviSys as their latest key partner

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TRACKIT Solutions Limited are delighted to announce their latest key partnership with RoviSys who join their partner program as an “Audit and Software Partner”.

RoviSys is a leading independent provider of information management solutions, process control systems integration, and industrial networks. Since 1989, they have built a reputation of quality, continuity, technical expertise, and attentive customer service. They deliver solutions that drive productivity, improve product quality, and increase asset utilization. With offices in North America, Europe, and Asia they have the resources and experience to provide services to companies of all sizes.

The partnership with TRACKIT will allow them to offer a complete service to their customers from physical asset audits, real-time monitoring, alerts and auditing of power usage and facility assets through to full asset lifecycle management.

As part of the partner onboarding process RoviSys will complete training that imparts best practice and expertise to deliver high quality services and solutions to data centre clients.

tony-rossiter-head-shot-thumbnailTRACKIT’s Global Sales Director, Tony Rossiter commented “We are delighted to have RoviSys on-board as a TRACKIT Partner. They bring a wealth of experience in the facilities management market and enhance our TRACKIT PRO platform by integrating data centre management solutions. This expands our capability in managing mechanical and electrical assets as well as, alarms and reporting on those devices.”

brian.polaski“Creating solutions that drive improved uptime, avoid surprises, and limit unplanned outages is our focus,” commented RoviSys Data Centre Manager, Brian Polaksi. “Our auditing capabilities eliminate guesswork and out-of-date information, and allow customers to accurately manage their facility and IT assets.”

For more information on our partner program please view our partner page or email us at info@trackit-solutions.com or on 01603 381382.

 

The Configuration Management problem in a world of accelerating change

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How confident are you that your Configuration Management System (CMS) and all supporting Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs) are fit for purpose?

The configuration management challenge

If asked, most IT managers claim 90% accuracy and hope the questioner does not notice they have their fingers crossed.  I once did a physical audit of a data centre where the CIO believed the CMDB to be 95% accurate and the best in his very extensive, entirely outsourced, estate.  I still recall his crestfallen face when presented with the data showing the accuracy to be less than 10%.  His face fell further when it was realised the environment could be physically consolidated from almost 250 racks to under 40, just by moving servers around, and to less than 20 if he virtualised more and upgraded the hardware.  Developing a trusted CMDB and the implications for his outsourcer’s revenue target were just two of the many barriers to realising the cost benefit.

Conversations with those who audit data centres for a living reveal that even in well-run estates the CMS / CMDB is often only 50% accurate, though the perception is that this is improving as legacy platforms are replaced with automated platforms running in the cloud, when they are presumably somebody else’s problem.

Some might question whether they need an accurate CMS / CMDB, but they are the ones without a service catalogue living in a fantasy world; an unregulated IT environment overflowing with resources, where there are no security threats, and all changes and new services can be launched one day, perhaps.  For the rest of us who need to define and control all the components of our IT services and infrastructure, including their dependencies, maintaining accurate configuration information is an embarrassing problem.

The challenge with maintaining an accurate CMS or CMDB is that there are so many different people meddling in it; so many that they often use the same login.  It only takes one of them to update it incorrectly, through ignorance, overwork, ineptitude or nefarious intent and all trust is lost.  Once trust is gone, the benefits of the CMS/CMDB are significantly reduced; it becomes like a lamp-post to a drunken man, something better for leaning on than illumination.

To counter this, there are a plethora of vendors peddling automated discovery that is so brilliant it can tell you the inside leg measurement of the CIO’s ex-wife’s dog but somehow fails to find the critical system running obsolete software from behind an unpatched firewall in a broom cupboard.  Not confident you have found all your IT?  No problem, buy another discovery engine and a bigger and better CMDB, another spreadsheet should do it, or perhaps DCIM?  Once this is done, all the pigs are fed, watered and ready to fly!

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Is DCIM the answer?

Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) vendors offer another nirvana.  Load all your assets into the DCIM and then create a differential lookup with the CMS/CMDB to highlight discrepancies.  Users can then audit the differences to correct the errors and find the source of the process failure, without having to regularly count every server in every rack.  The concept is sound provided the databases are not automatically synchronised, the DCIM is locked down so only a few individually identifiable people can input and change it, and the processes are robust.

The trouble is that to differentiate and create ‘lock-in’ in the competitive world of DCIM, vendors keep adding more functions and there are few standards.  A demanding user base, pathologically attracted to new widgets, compounds this problem by constantly asking the vendors for more.  “I would happily recommend buying your solution if it creates a 3D virtual model of my data centre that enables me to virtually fly around the racks in an exact replica of the Millennium Falcon as it appeared in the digitally re-mastered collector’s edition of The Empire Strikes Back, and lets me virtualise servers with my laser cannon.”

The result is a DCIM solution that is so complex, that implementation and realising the promised benefits can take years.  Worse, it makes the tools so expensive to buy and configure they are practically impossible to cost justify.  The reality is that by the time they are finally implemented, the Star Wars fan has been frozen in carbonite, the person who signed the purchase order has moved on and the hideously expensive DCIM is only used for:

  • Data centre space planning
  • IT Asset Management
  • Physical network connectivity management
  • Physical power connectivity management and possibly metering
  • Basic workflows and ticketing

For this reason, we will see further consolidation of the DCIM industry soon, though I still wonder when the promise of the technology will be delivered at a cost that is low enough for ubiquitous and rapid consumption.

A low-cost alternative?

For now, if part of the solution to the CMS / CMDB problem is a thorough audit and robust change process for physical assets, supported by a low-cost asset management software solution, why not implement something like TRACKIT PRO. It has much of the functionality actually used by Data Centre Operations folk to optimise their data centre and offers a single, accurate and intuitive view for Data Centre Asset Management needs. It could even be expanded into the rest of the corporate estate so the CFO has visibility of all assets in a single inventory management database.

Read more about TRACKIT PRO for DCAM

The COO’s question – Why are we spending so much money on IT year-on-year and what are we getting for our money?

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The challenge

Most people in the industry expect IT spending to remain stagnant in 2017. There is also concern from some UK companies I’ve spoken to that Brexit could create more risk and uncertainty for business adding further anxiety about levels of Capex spending. Either way there’s no doubt that IT budgets remain under intense pressure; CIOs and CTOs are struggling to justify to their COOs the continual investment in hardware and software to support the business in the current landscape.

COOs and other key decision makers rightly want to see that the money being invested in IT / data centre assets is directly benefiting the business. Namely, what is the return on that investment and how effectively and efficiently is that equipment being used. Have all the ways to reduce costs or the levels of upfront investment also been considered?

To justify further spending year-on-year, COOs are demanding that CIOs / CTOs show them what IT equipment they have, where is it located, who within the business owns it, what is the current value, how much is it costing to run/operate and how are those assets being utilised (fully).

CIOs / CTOs can often struggle to pull this information together accurately and quickly, especially in large organisations with many global offices with remote data centres and/or server equipment / comm’s rooms.

Cause – reality Vs. perception gap 

Often we see organisations with the required information in several applications/ siloes such as a CMDB (Configuration Management Database), a Financial system such as SAP, a DCIM (Data Centre Infrastructure Management) platform and an ITSM (IT Service Management) suite, sometimes being run by different departments which are also siloed. Bringing this information together is often a major challenge and can bring with it questions around levels of accuracy which in turn brings doubt into the decision-making process.

Some organisations try to overcome this issue by using network discovery tools –  these are plentiful and work very well, BUT used in isolation they have their short comings as they cannot accurately identify the exact location of the device (to room, rack, U-position), which may be essential if there is a failure or significant outage. They also don’t often inform you of the operational running costs of the equipment (for example the power and cooling costs).

Another common issue across large enterprise organisations is “Virtualisation sprawl” – thousands of Virtual Machines being spun up by development/testing but never taken down, resulting in servers that are sitting idle but consuming resources and serving no useful purpose.

In terms of the COO’s challenge on full utilisation of existing assets its unfortunately often well founded. Under-utilisation of assets is a common issue across data centre and IT operations.  It can often be the simpler choice to add another server than to place applications onto an existing machine, that coupled with user departments not fully understanding virtualisation and just ordering new IT / DC equipment for the sake of it, or because path of least resistance.

Unfortunately, I’ve often heard Server teams saying “if that department wants it, they get it, whether we have spare capacity or not, it’s their budget!”.

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What’s the solution?

There is no quick win or magic answer more a simple matter of having a good robust stepped approach and ensuring that you have disciplined and complete change management processes in place to maintain that information.

Firstly – validate the asset data sources you have by undertaking a physical audit of all equipment, including location information down to the U-level (not just rack-level). This process routinely discovers hidden assets or “ghost” devices/assets enabling you to make the most of your data centre capacity by re-deploying redundant equipment. The data obtained should be used to update those master sources of information regularly as needed. There’s a useful reference link at the end of this article on the benefits of audits.

This should also encompass an accurate view of operating systems and the applications running on the servers. Quite often we discover that applications are not being fully utilised even though licenses are being paid for. This ties up budget that could be more effectively be used elsewhere.

Second – Enhance or develop a robust and complete MAC (moves, add and change) process to record all changes to equipment across environments and locations. From the time an asset is procured through to the disposal / recycling of assets and tracking the entire lifecycle of the asset – “from birth to death and everything in between”. Good DCAM / ITAM solutions facilitate this but to be fully adopted need to offer full mobility through integrated tools and/or mobile apps to ensure they are fit for today’s demanding DC/ IT environments.

Third– it’s crucial that the business has a comprehensive view and full understanding of the FULL cost of IT assets – not just their current asset value (with depreciation applied) but associated costs of maintenance/warranty and repairs. Without this information, effective decisions cannot be made in terms of return on investment and resource allocation / utilisation.

Fourth – Assess the tools you should use to monitor and track performance – such as utilisation versus capacity, power usage and other ancillary costs (for example overhead costs for power, cooling, network communications, etc). These should be allocated to running the costs of equipment accordingly so you have a complete and accurate view of costs.

Fifth and finally – It must be all brought together into a single view, facilitated by integration between siloed applications and departments to share information collaboratively across the organisation.

In many cases things fall apart when organisational barriers are not removed and people are too protective of their own data domains. It may take a cultural shift in attitudes to make things work, but it will be worth it in the end. To make this most effective many see this as the COO’s role to drive cultural change and foster collaboration. The CIO’s / CTO’s responsibility is to embrace solutions and processes to ensure that spending is monitored accurately and that assets are fully optimised. Ultimately by doing that they can be confident that any request for additional spending is justified AND supported through accurate analysis / reporting. And that they can clearly demonstrate what the full picture of ACTUAL IT spend V ROI is.

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What are the benefits?

The 5 point process above helps identify areas where things can be streamlined which obviously will have a positive effect on costs –  like identifying “ghost servers” and underutilised servers, recovery of switch ports and cabling infrastructure. They can allow you to reduce cost by virtualisation and consolidation, and provide better insight into the available capacity on the current infrastructure resulting in faster consolidation, reduced power and cooling costs.

Improved insight from this process and a “single view” can also help mitigate against risk of failures and downtime (by identifying ‘single points of failure’)

It can also help identify which applications can be potentially moved to the cloud versus kept in house and result in reductions in CAPEX costs.

On top of that is can facilitate accurate cross charging of departments for use of equipment and proportionally offset power and cooling costs too.

Ideas for reducing costs should be actively encouraged, promoted and rewarded. Fostering collaboration between siloes and sharing information will increase productivity and operational efficiency and success stories should be shared across the organisation to reinforce and build this culture internally.

Sometimes we lose sight of the obvious things in front of us as we are so focused on the details. This article was not written to provide ground-breaking insight or some glaring new way of doing things, it is there to provide a simple framework for success and a process to build upon.

Where to start?

Data centre audits are the start point to this process but aren’t a one and done exercise – key to long term success is implementing processes and tools that maintain asset accuracy levels by effectively managing moves and change processes.

They can provide the CTO / CIO with clear visibility of their estate to help them drive down utility costs, optimise capacity and identify legacy equipment to drastically improve data centre ROI. This in turn may negate the need for all the budget requested to the COO and or provide the information to support / justify their request based on a single uniform and accurate view.

This article below gives a good overview of the benefits of a data centre audit as the start point to the process above.

Challenging IT budgets have meant that TRACKIT’s solutions and services are even more in demand. CIOs / CTOs need to make more of what they have in the face of stagnated IT budgets but the pressure / demand of front-end services increasing.

Our approach is simple –  we focus on driving more ROI from CTO’s / CIO’s data centres and IT assets by taking a back to basics approach. Full and accurate IT asset inventory providing complete visibility – and fast. This accurate data is then delivered to THEIR platform requirements, either their existing DCIM / ITAM or CMDB tool or our own our DCAM application with full integration capability.

Find out more about discovering hidden ROI in your data centre.

 

Asset Management just got smarter

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EMPOWERING YOU TO MAKE INTELLIGENT ASSET DECISIONS

For over 8 years now TRACKIT’s software and solutions have provided some of the worlds most recognised enterprise companies with complete visibility of data centre / IT assets – demonstrating the value of accurate and trusted asset data. This has also extended into auditing and reporting on M&E equipment and into wider facilities asset management use cases which has shaped the product development approach.

We never stand still from a development perspective and always listen to customer feedback and work collaboratively with them to ensure solutions are in line with their changing requirements and that of the market.

Market insight and customer feedback have shown that businesses struggle to keep an accurate inventory of their assets. Our new software release has been built as a scalable cloud platform that adapts to customer requirements. It’s quick to set up and easy to maintain for an individual or a team of people. TRACKIT is delivered as a self-service application which is hosted in the cloud, anyone can sign up and purchase online instantly and immediately start tracking, mapping and driving more ROI from their assets.

Let me give you a run-down of the key features and rich functionality that comes out of the box.

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Key Features

Property and Estate Management

With TRACKIT you can quickly and simply map your estate and floorplans with the ability to easily populate, maintain and report on asset data with complete accuracy.

  • Make critical decisions with confidence using the intelligent functionality layers and flexible reporting that comes out of the box.
  • Our single intuitive platform gives you the ability to manage and report across multiple locations seamlessly on your entire estate.
  • TRACKIT has a flexible location structure so you can set up locations, buildings, floors and spaces with nested groups beneath each.
  • Store as much information as you need such as financial lease, building surveys, site owner, connectivity etc.

Floorplan/ Space Management

With TRACKIT you can seamlessly import floorplans in multiple formats and manage those floorplans easily with full customisable views and reporting.

  • Easily import existing files such as DWG, PDF, Visio or SVG floorplans just by dragging and dropping them into the browser.
  • All existing layers in files are retained to allow them to be switched on and off, renamed or even removed.
  • Easy to use boarder path tool, all within the browser, which allows you to define a room by drawing around the outside of the room.
  • Categorise rooms and contain assets within them all visually on the floorplan.

The beauty of TRACKIT is that it has the versatility to add as much or as little data as you want.

Asset Management

With Asset Management, you can search across multiple locations for assets as well as filter, group and update the assets as they move around in the environment.

  • Visualise individual assets and drill into the child assets within them to see what the dependencies are.
  • Asset field information such as purchase or lease data, ownership, values or conditions can be added and maintained.
  • Store information against any type of asset in any environment (like reports and documentation)
  • Define products and categorise assets to ensure that you get a consistent and accurate set of data.
  • Schedule alerts for tasks for maintenance, warrantee expiry or servicing or even notify users if things are being moved around automatically.

In a nutshell its total asset management in any location on a single intuitive platform.

Mobile Asset Management

Use TRACKIT’s mobile apps for mobile asset management to allow you to quickly and accurately collect and add asset data with ease – search and modify asset information seamlessly on the move.

  • Check out rooms and locations for offline asset updates when no internet connection is available, this seamlessly updates when you’re back online.
  • Add assets through our apps or directly through our portal quickly and accurately.
  • Use your smartphone to take photos of assets and/or their barcode and append these quickly and easily to assets.
  • Set up push notifications and alerts for asset management servicing tasks and have them emailed straight to your mobile device
  • Light touch validation mode allows you to quickly check assets in their location.

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Easy Reporting, Charting and Dashboarding

TRACKIT has easy to use reporting and dashboard functionality. You can report on asset and location data quickly and simply with the ability to customise and configure the reports you need easily.

  • TRACKIT is fully customisable for assets and locations showing audit trails and workflows.
  • Fully customisable dashboards provide instant access to relevant real-time information which refreshes automatically.
  • Use reporting to perform analysis on the data in the tool rather than having to export it out to external tools to filter groups, sort or child that data.
  • Layer on additional information such as GPS coordinate data and view this on a map.

With the rich features and functionality of TRACKIT you can make better and more informed decisions to effectively manage the lifecycle of you assets and maximise your return on investment.

We’re excited about our latest software release and whilst of course, it can be used to manage DC/IT assets, the potential to track any physical business asset and its application is almost endless.

At this point we’re looking for early adopters (and have quite a few on board already) to road test our latest software release – if you’re interested please let me know. I’d be very happy (and proud) to show of its functionality and feature set and demonstrate the benefits if could bring to managing your entire asset estate.

Exciting times ahead in 2017!

NEWS: TRACKIT welcome TECHNIMOVE as their latest key partner

istock_000068194997_xxxlargeTRACKIT is delighted to partner with Technimove as part of its new partnership program

I am delighted to announce TRACKIT’s latest key partnership with Technimove Limited who join our Partner Program as an “Audit and Software Partner”. As part of the on boarding process they will be trained by TRACKIT to directly impart best practice and expertise to empower them to deliver high quality Audit services using TRACKIT Mobile and TRACKIT’s intuitive enterprise asset management software. Technimove will offer a professional audit service that can quickly and accurately help their customers both discover and maintain the integrity of their data centre / IT asset data.

This partnership is a key one for us and one of the first as part of our Partner Program.

Working together we will help businesses minimise the risk and downtime associated with data centre re-locations. By adopting a truly collaborative approach both companies are striving to improve traceability of equipment moving between locations using TRACKIT Mobile and the TRACKIT asset management software platform to set the benchmark in the industry.

ali-ball-002Alistair Ball, CTO at Technimove commented “We’ve been looking for a platform that enables our engineers to quickly and efficiently capture accurate asset information for some time. Once we had seen the TRACKIT Mobile solution, we were convinced we had found what we were looking for. With TRACKIT’s experience in data centre auditing and their new Partner Program, we believe we have a solid foundation to offer improved services to our customers”.

The ability to offer audit services and data centre asset management through TRACKIT Mobile augments Technimove’s service offering and further minimises the risk associated with data centre migration – it also extends their service model helping data centre owners not only discover full asset inventory, but giving them the capability to maintain accurate asset data which is key to the effective operational deployment and long term efficiency of any modern data centre.

tom-forbesTom Forbes, Director at Technimove added “The TRACKIT solution forms a major part of our strategic plans going into 2017 and beyond and we will be adopting the TRACKIT Mobile solution as part of our everyday business operations. This will enable us to continue to lead the industry through delivering challenging and complex data centre migration projects around the world. TRACKIT has shown us that we can offer different solutions to our clients from auditing, to cloud-based Asset Management along with full asset lifecycle management of their data centre and IT assets”.

This latest partnership brings together two industry leading companies with a proven track record with the ability rapidly and securely migrate customer’s data centre assets to new locations with high levels of efficiency. Our combined knowledge and experience guarantees accuracy, security and maintainability of data centre asset information using TRACKIT Mobile / Enterprise software and Technimove’s professional services. All customers taking advantage of this key partnership agreement can be confident that all their valuable DC assets are documented, tracked and re-located securely and safely to their end destination.

For more information about any of our partner programs please view our partner page or contact info@trackit-solutions.com or 01603 381382.

NEWS: TRACKIT launches new partner program and signs up first key partner

istock_000032248938_xxxlarge-3TRACKIT is delighted to partner with Bjumper Solutions

I am delighted to announce our partnership with Bjumper Solutions. This partnership extends TRACKIT’s reach into new markets and allows both to jointly promote respective expertise in new data centre and IT markets. Bjumper have operations in Spain, UK and Central America/Latin America regions and bring a wealth of experience with a customer base that would benefit from TRACKIT’s software solutions and services.

Bjumper are a great choice of partner in the run up to launching our new cloud-based platform to market. I’m really excited about developing our relationship with Bjumper and looking forward to a profitable future together.

Our new wider Partner Program aims to give partners everything they need to build a profitable Data Centre / IT or Generic Asset Management business that leverages ours expertise, intuitive solutions and established brand reputation in the market. It comes with TRACKIT’S intuitive asset management software solution and access to its professional value-added services / support with a range of partner level options available. These include Referral Partner, Audit Partner, Software Partner and Premier Partner all with a simple 5 step on-boarding process.

steve-beber-head-shotTRACKIT CEO Steve Beber commented “I am excited and very pleased that we have now signed partnership agreements with Bjumper and am looking forward to working together to take both our solutions and services to the next level. We’re excited about developing our mutually beneficial relationship and looking forward to a bright future together.”

The data centre industry is currently working through considerable change with new technologies being adopted such as cloud-services, hyper-converged infrastructure and the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) all having an influence on the data centre and IT sectors. In addition, the migration from home-grown enterprise data centre facilities to co-location further complicates the operational elements. With Bjumper, TRACKIT can help more companies who are struggling to maximise their investment in IT by providing a solid foundation of accurate asset management as well as audits, from which, they can ease the migration and adoption to newer technologies and generate improved ROI.

jose2Bjumper’s General Manager, Jose Barbero, added “We’ve chosen to partner with TRACKIT Solutions as we see many synergies between our two companies. The partnership allows us to expand our product portfolio to fit with the needs of our customers and it expands our reach into new opportunities where we can offer extended services to a new customer base. Together, we are focused on developing a combined strategy to tackle the many issues that have challenged our customers over the past years.”

This partnership is a key one for TRACKIT and the first of many planned in the following months as part of the launch of TRACKIT’s Partner program.

For more information about any of our partner programs please view our partner page or contact our Global Sales Director Tony Rossiter at tony.rossiter@trackit-solutions.com or 01603 381382.