2018: The Year of DCIM Tools?

As you open your fortune cookie–you might ask, will 2018 be the year of widespread deployment of Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools across Federal data centers?

The jury is still out on that. However, as IT modernization initiatives take off, more data center managers will deploy DCIM tools to meet the performance targets and operational efficiencies mandated by the government’s Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). DCOI requires agencies to consolidate inefficient infrastructure, update existing facilities, boost security, save money, and transition to cloud services or inter-agency shared services.

Before data center managers can optimize their data centers to achieve goals like better energy usage, better utilization of servers and other IT equipment, as well as reap more benefits out of virtualization technology, they must conduct an inventory of what’s in their data centers, said Jeff Chabot, director of Government Segment Strategy at APC by Schneider Electric, a developer of data center management solutions.

“If you are a government data center director, you must look internally and see what you have, and when you talk about optimization, the best bet is to deploy data center infrastructure management tools,” Chabot said.

DCIM solutions monitor, measure, manage, and/or control data center resources and energy consumption of IT-related equipment such as servers, storage, and network switches. They also control facilities infrastructure components such as power distribution units and computer room air conditioners, according to market research and consulting firm Gartner.

Federal agencies have lagged behind private companies’ adoption of these tools, according to Chabot. But there could be an uptick in deployment this year, especially since agencies are struggling to meet the originally imposed DCOI performance targets by Sept. 30, 2018. Many CFO Act Agencies said they couldn’t meet DCOI objectives by the 2018 date, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last August and confirmed in a recent MeriTalk study, Data Center 2020: Federal Modernization in Focus.

GAO recommended extending the deadline, and Congress listened. As a result, President Trump signed The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Extension Act (FITARA) of 2017, extending provisions related to Federal data center consolidation, transparency, and risk management of major IT systems. Agencies now have until September 30, 2020 to meet many of the DCOI performance requirements.

Agencies have been asking for help in procuring solutions that can help optimize their data centers, specifically tools such as DCIM, according to Dan Pomeroy, director of the Data Center Optimization Initiative at GSA, in an interview on Government Matters. Last year, the GSA issued a DCOI request seeking information from industry on optimization tools such as DCIM. Pomeroy also noted that the GSA is working on establishing Rapid Infrastructure Support teams to help agencies struggling to close data centers, achieve operational efficiencies, and move to cloud infrastructures.

During 2018, government data center managers will learn more about how DCIM tools work, their benefits, and how they can be deployed for the best results, Chabot said.

MeriTalk’s Data Center 2020 study confirms enthusiasm–89 percent of Federal IT managers say they see promise in DCIM solutions to help move modernization forward.

Having the right DCIM tools in place will only accelerate Federal efforts to optimize data centers, experts stress. Data center and IT managers just need to research which tools they want to deploy as a first step in closing the migration gap with private industry.

If 2018 is indeed the year of DCIM tools, then according to Chinese astrology, it’s a dog. Other famous dogs include Elvis, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. Seems that data center optimization is not dead–and it’s popular on both sides of the spectrum…

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