Inside 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