An often asked question: Is DCIM overkill for data centers that have less than 1000 square feet white space or those with connected power less than 500 KW?

This question comes up because of a commonly held myth that DCIM is only about power savings. The argument here is that monetary savings from reducing power consumption in a small data center would be minimal. While I would not dispute that, it may interest the CFO that the annual power cost in running this data center is approximately US$ 330,000 assuming PUE of 2.5 (typical of such a data center that has not undertaken any energy efficiency measures) and power tariff at $ 0.13 per kwh. Reducing the PUE to 2.0 would bring the annual power bill to U$ 260,000.00. While a small saving, I am not sure if $ 70,000 is totally irrelevant.

But DCIM tools are not just about cutting power costs, although that is indeed an important reason for larger data centers, and more so with multi-tenant data centers where over 40% of the operating costs are power related. In my mind, the fundamental reason why even a small data center should invest in DCIM software is for asset management, specifically asset relationship mapping. Mapping the entire chain from application and the application’s business owner to the Virtual Machine on which it is residing and all the way up in the power and network chain to the source of power (in small data centers mostly up to the UPS) and network routers and switches would introduce far greater financial savings that could be a blog topic by itself.

DCIM Asset Management’s relevance in a smaller data center is similar to the relevance of ERP in a smaller discrete manufacturing unit which may still have multiple levels of Bill of Material (BOM). Getting the BOM levels and the inter-relationships right is fundamental to lean manufacturing that brings about huge cost savings. It is also similar to the relevance of a CRM in a smaller Bank where customers may still have multiple banking relationships and CRM tracks that, enabling the Bank to provide better service and garner higher wallet share of the customer. A complete asset relationship mapping in a 1000 square feet data center, which may have as much as 500 inter-related devices, helps to avoid over provisioning (read wasted capital expenditure), better availability due to visibility (read avoiding costly failures) of the cascading impacts due to a device failure in the chain.

Just as an ERP or a CRM is universally adopted in a SMB enterprise for higher profitability, so also should DCIM find place in a smaller data center for lowering capital costs and mitigating the risks of a data center failure.