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 our Global Sales Director Tony Rossiter at tony.rossiter@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.

 

News: TRACKIT’S global expansion continues

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NEW EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS – NEW HEAD OF GLOBAL SALES AND SALES MANAGER FOR NORDIC REGION

I’m really excited and pleased to announce two key sales team appointments to support the company’s global expansion into new and existing markets. Tony Rossiter joins the company as Global Head of Sales and Peter Falk join as Sales Manager Nordics & Baltics region.

In Tony’s new role as Head of Global sales and as a board member he will be responsible for driving worldwide sales activities and advising on company growth strategy, as well as developing and rolling out our worldwide partner program to support our service offering across key markets. Peter is Tony’s first appointment and bolsters the existing sales team as a dedicated point of contact for Nordic and Baltic clients and to support the growth plans for the region. Both Tony and Peters appointments are key to our continued success and supporting our business strategy in both the Data Centre Asset Management space servicing our key enterprise clients and our expansion into Generic Asset Management driving the roll out of our new software release TRACKIT PRO.

Tony’s career spans more than 25 years in the IT and Data Centre business and he adds a wealth of expertise and experience to the TRACKIT management team. After starting his career in technical roles at Eicon Technology and then moving into sales, he became the Senior Director Worldwide OEM & Emerging Business responsible for a global team of project management, technical and sales staff. He moved on to be the co-founder and Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Colubris Networks, a secure WLAN manufacturer that was sold to HP in 2008. Since then he’s had roles as Managing Director of ITT Industries Network Systems & Services and Nexans Cabling Solutions before joining iTRACS Corporation as Head of EMEA Operations, Global Data Centre Strategy.

Tony joins us from Commscope which acquired iTRACS in 2013 where he was responsible for major account sales and Partner development for iTRACS DCIM solutions. He brings to TRACKIT outstanding sales and partner management expertise and he will be instrumental in TRACKIT’s continued development and future growth in its asset management software, services and solutions offering.

tony-rossiter-head-shot-thumbnailTony commented “I’m delighted to be joining TRACKIT at a time when the business has completed the development of its next generation asset management platform, the commitment from the whole team to make this a success is inspiring. I’m looking forward to making a significant contribution to the success of TRACKIT and being part of a dynamic and focused team.”

Tony’s first sales team appointment is Sweden based Peter Falk brought on board as Sales Manager in the Nordics & Baltics region. Peter also joins us from Commscope where he was responsible for partner development and sales of Commscope’s cabling and data center solutions in Sweden. He also brings to TRACKIT sales and partner management and expertise from the telecom and cabling industry and as well as Telecoms product management experience.

peterfalk1-thumbnailPeter added ”I’m excited to join the TRACKIT team on their journey providing unparalleled audit services together with a dedicated asset management platform which will help my regions customers to more efficiently manage their data centres” 

 

You can contact Tony or Peter to discuss any of our solutions or services on the email addresses below.

  • Tony Rossiter – tony.rossiter@trackit-solutions.com
  • Peter Falk – peter.falk@trackit-solutions.com

What is a Data Centre Asset Audit and why do I need it?

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A Data Centre Asset Audit consists of a physical site survey of all assets an organisation may own in their data centre(s). This audit is the first step to achieving full visibility of your data centre, empowering you with the knowledge to drive full data centre optimisation. A well performed accurate and physical audit can uncover significantly more IT assets than data centre owners previously assumed they had, including discovering hidden assets or “ghost” devices. These can be by re-deployed or removed if redundant, rather than wasting valuable space and money, as shockingly 1 in 3 data centre servers is a ghost/zombie device, (Computer World June 2015). It is also the first step in adopting BAU processes in where a full life cycle management is maintained in the data centre.

Many data centre owners had been led to believe that data centre physical device audits are no longer necessary with tools like real time monitoring, such as network and temperature monitoring, and automatic discovery software being available. However, it is now recognised that these types of solutions cannot be solely relied upon for high levels of asset tracking accuracy due to current technical constraints, and only work when built upon an accurate inventory management foundation of asset knowledge.

This foundation will support the current and future management of data centres, as this is always going to be a combination of technical solutions and manual processes with a solution in place to identify any potential faults/locations and the manual intervention to rectify or to override. A TRACKIT audit minimises the risk of outages in a data centre and allows data centre managers to rapidly discover a point of failure if a fault were to arise. As the DCIM solutions and related tools evolution continues along with organisations’ ability to implement them, this process will become more seamless – a necessity of the increasing sophistication and complexity of data centre requirements in the digital age.

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Gartner states that “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.” This validates that it’s more important than ever to have effective asset management software and processes to effectively manage assets within a data centre. The physical auditing of IT assets using a Data Centre Asset Audit is an important part of this evolution. Currently it is the only way to ensure accurate population of DCIM systems and maintenance of this accuracy.

The level of detail that is required and the frequency of the audit is dependent on the importance of IT to an organisation and the risk to the business if it does not deliver. The fact that the organisation is using a data centre(s) implies high importance – this includes outsourced/co-location data centres and the data centres of cloud providers. We provide efficient audits that are fast and accurate, meaning there is seamless integration of collected data from day one.

 A full Data Centre Asset Audit will focus on the collection of all devices in a data centre environment including servers, network switches, patch panels, blades, cards, network connectivity and power connectivity (down to port/receptacle level). The data collected and recorded will include device type, manufacturer, model, serial number, asset number, rack position and grid location. When required to extend this audit to include network and power connectivity, we also collect cable and connection type. Typically, audits that we conduct provide the insight to reduce power usage by between 15 and 30% through highlighting high power legacy equipment, optimising cooling and PUE.  

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A validation audit can be adopted as a BAU task, following on from an initial asset audit, which allows rapid and accurate checking of data, especially when in conjunction with our intelligent tagging. It also means that each device is visually checked during a validation audit, rather than all devices being ticked on a spreadsheet by an employee just standing at the end of a row of racks… which unfortunately has been known to happen. A skilled team of experienced auditors (like ours) can collect 5,000 and validate 15,000 devices per week using our tool, resulting in the audit process not taking as long as most fear.

The frequency of the validation audit varies from organisation to organisation and between different sectors of operation. This can be assisted by regular survey or sample audits, which identify the level of accuracy of DCIM data in a selected section of the data centre. This can show when an unsuitable level of accuracy is found and a full validation audit can be progressed.

All data collected from initial and validation audits must then be produced for rapid update of the DCIM and other management systems, with minimal manual input to maintain accuracy. The data collected from the audit is designed to be exported to CSV or any CMDB (Configuration Management Database)/DCIM (Data Centre Infrastructure Management)/ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) solution templates that is required to fit all needs and can be accessed instantly, so there are no delays in any data migration.

The latest industry research suggests DC owners are experiencing shrinking enterprise budgets, growing outsourcing requirements and a greater holistic approach to the management of IT as a result of Corporate Sustainability, (Uptime Time Institute, 2016)

As the future of data centres become more diverse with its requirements and regulations, and with the hybrid data centre looking to become the standard operating model, organisations will want their data centre and data centre solutions to adapt with their specific business challenges. This will continue to give organisations a competitive advantage, whilst controlling cost and minimising risk. However, with IT budgets forever changing, there is always an emphasis on making the most of what you have and the ever present consolidation projects to facilitate this, both of which are much more effective with the core foundation of accurate asset knowledge in place. Equally this asset information needs to be maintained, as you can not make intelligent business decisions without smarter asset management in your data centre.

“The most successful DCIM vendors have been those that have worked closely with end user customers to ensure accurate and complete collection of data in the deployment phase.” – Jennifer Koppy, Research Director at International Data Corporation (IDC)

TRACKIT has been auditing Data Centre’s for some of the world’s biggest financial and telecom providers over the past 9 years. In our experience, the most optimised DC’s and successful DCIM implementations have been those that have been built upon a solid foundation of asset knowledge, and a data centre asset audit is a core requirement in achieving this.

This is fully discussed in our new white paper “Building the foundations for successful DCIM” – trackit-solutions.com/whitepaper

 

Why isn’t DCIM driving the value its promised?

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Setting the scene

With its capacity to create significant energy efficiency and operational gains, DCIM can be a highly useful and effective tool when adopted AND deployed properly.

Over recent years DCIM has been a hot topic within the data centre solutions sector, due to its ability to monitor, measure, manage and control energy consumption. This ranges from equipment such as servers, storage and network switches through to facilities infrastructure components such as power distribution units (PDUs) and computer room air conditioners (CRACs). This is in addition to providing efficient and informed change processes. An effective DCIM solution can achieve all this through a real-time, holistic view of power, cooling, and other IT and physical assets with documentation, control, visibility and metric tools all in one solution.

However, all too often there is a failure to build a solid foundation for DCIM to make it effective– something that can only be achieved by having accurate and effective asset management in place.

Unfortunately, more and more I hear of ineffective DCIM implementations and we’re often brought in to help clients gain accurate asset data to try and drive some level of ROI from implementing a DCIM solution. Truth be told many of these data centre owners never needed DCIM and would have just benefited from a step up from Microsoft Excel or Visio to a full lifecycle asset management software and a capacity management solution. It certainly feels like DCIM is no longer the trendy buzz word, but instead, many companies and customers I’ve spoken to feel disillusioned and hugely disappointed that DCIM has not delivered the value it promised.

It would appear that many don’t expect to see any immediate impact that was expected from implementing DCIM as a solution – the Uptime Institute, Data Center Industry Survey, 2015 re-enforces this and revealed 49% of enterprises “do not expect to see ROI from their DCIM within two the next two years”.

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So why isn’t DCIM living up to expectations?

There are two key reasons why DCIM continues to not fully deliver on the value it promised.

Firstly, definition. It means different things to different people and the range of options is diverse. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and vendors have been keen to put their own unique spin on this technology, which has consequently led to confusion about what it is and what it should do.

The market is poorly defined and due to the lack of any industry standards vendors have interpreted their products as being DCIM, whereas many only fulfil part of a more complex solution that is required for managing data centre infrastructure. Customers often don’t understand what they want or need and vendors highlight product features that can be extremely hard to deliver operationally.

The second more fundamental issue (as mentioned above) concerns the lack of consideration given to building a DCIM solution from the ground up by managing assets, identifying where there may be weaknesses in existing processes and remedying them before then implementing “intelligent technology”.

Customers believe that their data sets are totally accurate when in fact many have lost the integrity of the data – this arises when uncontrolled access and DC changes take place that are not captured or reported.

Many customers have dipped their toe in the DCIM waters and unfortunately those that have had a poor experience are now sceptical about the value DCIM can deliver.

Robust data centre asset management can ensure DCIM implementations fulfil their objectives, achieve expected ROI and provide the type of valuable information that ensures Data Centres operate in line with optimal efficiency levels.

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What needs to happen to ensure DCIM fulfils its potential?

Long term – The industry needs to work together to define the market and drive effective and agreed standards. When wireless LAN appeared on the market in the early 2000’s, many vendors were unable to inter-operate and customers were forced down proprietary technology routes. Only when the WiFi alliance helped the  IEEE to define standards for the Wireless LAN industry did technology adoption rocket and today we have ubiquitous WiFI everywhere.

This needs to happen within the DCIM market, the top vendors need to get together, define the market, collaborate on standards or adopt standards as part of the DCIM solution (such as ISO 55000). They need to work together to educate the customer base on what can be a platform that drives significant operational benefit to Data Centre owners/operators.

In the short term, DCIM vendors MUST start recognising the need to adopt accurate data centre asset management or inventory management as the foundation for effective and successful DCIM implementation.

The subject of asset management needs to be tackled by DCIM vendors, so why isn’t it? The obvious answer is that it’s easier to avoid questioning the validity and accuracy of a customer’s data. However, despite its sensitivity, it’s a question that must be asked to ensure more effective DCIM implementation.

“The most successful DCIM vendors have been those that have worked closely with end user customers to ensure accurate and complete collection of data in the deployment phase.” – Jennifer Koppy, research director at International Data Corporation (IDC)

If the full capabilities of DCIM are to be realised Data Centre Asset Management (DCAM) must get more recognition, especially as it is the defining factor for more informed strategic decisions.

Building solid foundations for DCIM

In our experience all too often there is a failure to scope out whether full DCIM is actually required OR implemented without a solid foundation for DCIM in place – that can only be achieved by having accurate and effective asset management in place.

Through routinely delivering large scale data centre asset audits we found that most Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solutions were (and still can be) complex, inflexible and even frustrating from a customer perspective. DCIM vendors regularly overlooked the importance of accurate data when implementing a DCIM solution as this was seen as something that could slow down the implementation plan and delay selling in licenses and professional services. In reality, many of the data centre asset audits we undertake are completed quickly in a matter of days or weeks and importantly completed with 99.99% levels of accuracy.

Without this accurate asset visibility in place, customers would then often fail to achieve the expected ROI from having purchased and implemented a DCIM solution. Once they had the solution up and running they would find that the data they have imported (typically from a spreadsheet), was inaccurate and out of date. This resulted in customers then blaming the solution as not delivering an accurate view of what they have; It’s an old saying but put bad data in you get bad data out. Unfortunately, this is still often the case with DCIM solutions available on the market today as they don’t focus or emphasise the importance of starting with the foundation of accurate data. Equally as important there is also little focus on how to maintain accurate data through deploying asset management software integrated with change and move processes. See our previous blog post What is a data centre asset audit and why do I need it?

To help tackle this problem TRACKIT have developed the Data Centre Asset Management (DCAM) model. This is designed to be used as a guideline and help configure the different stages of intelligence required for effective data centre management, starting with asset management. It highlights the importance of asset management and how it provides the foundation for all successful DCIM implementations.

To Discover the DCAM model and for more detail on how to build a stronger foundation for DCIM implementation you can get your FREE copy of our latest whitepaper here trackit-solutions.com/whitepaper