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Data center management is the discipline of planning and operating data center facilities and the IT infrastructure within them to maximize uptime, reduce overhead costs, optimize IT resources, and ultimately honor service level agreements (SLAs). Data center management also will encompass other aspects of the facility, such as human resources, capacity planning, and business services management.

Various technologies and strategies have been developed to help the data center industry reap more granular insights and control over every aspect of data center operation. This can range from understanding electrical and cooling system performance to monitoring server racks and IT equipment remotely.

However, despite progress in formalizing data center operations, each data center is wholly unique, requiring its own brand of planning and monitoring in order to achieve visibility and control over its systems. To that end, Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software has grown into a powerful and intelligent, real-time monitoring solution for data center managers. Primarily driven by rapid cloud adoption and the enormous growth among leading hyperscale data center providers, advanced DCIM solutions now incorporate the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, along with automation to monitor and respond to data center problems effectively.

In fact, rapid industry advancements will have lasting impacts on data center management techniques, especially in the near future, as data centers continue to evolve. A survey of data center executives and engineers reported that 33% of respondents believe that their facilities will start to integrate self-configuration and self-healing capabilities by 2025, thanks to AI and machine learning. The impacts of technology will deliver more efficient service, in part because of capabilities that allow IT teams that are managing a data center to be smaller and more remote.

Current trends suggest data centers follow a basic three-stage strategy for managing their facilities.

  1. Stage one: Monitor and visualize in detail all the activities, flows, systems, and equipment within the facility. DCIM software can help with data center infrastructure visualization. Other packages like network performance management (NPM) software can be leveraged to understand the operations of the network service itself.
  2. Stage two: Analyze each major system for trends and bottlenecks. In electrical systems, understanding facility power usage effectiveness (PUE) and the location of energy leaks is essential for optimizing total facility costs. Further, analyzing IT systems can uncover zombie servers, and other pieces of IT equipment that are also underutilized and wasting resources.
  3. Stage three: Automate as many processes as possible.

ITIL and Data Center Operations

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has developed a series of best practices for service managers to help with IT service operations. ITIL promotes five key stages and 26 processes that can contribute to service delivery. Highlighted here are six vital areas in which those who are managing a data center should focus when developing systems, procedures, and operating protocols.

  • Incident Management – uncovering root causes for unplanned service disruptions.
  • Request Fulfillment – managing the lifecycle of a service request until closeout.
  • Event Management – coordinating between incidents and problems and their timely resolution.
  • Problem Management – focusing on the interaction problems users are having with the system, such as down printers, and then uncovering the root cause and rectifying problems.
  • Change Management – fielding change requests and managing the risk that comes with change.
  • Access Management – using security protocol to control user access and system or facility resources.

Future Data Center Management Challenges

Those working in data center management must cope with future challenges beyond ensuring uptime and efficient use of resources. As the business landscape changes, data centers are challenged with operating in the changing playing field. The following are among the most important trends that will keep data centers adapting for the foreseeable future.

  • IP-Based Security Threats – With more companies putting their sensitive information in data centers serving the cloud, these facilities have become bigger targets for malicious IP-based threats.
  • Emergency Preparedness – Service delivery for clients has practically become a public utility, which has shifted business models and user expectations. Because downtime risks are more significant today, data centers need to account for unexpected events that threaten service uptime. Failure to prepare for data center downtime can mean more frequent and lengthier downtime incidents
  • Innovation and New Technology – Adopting more effective and efficient technology can sometimes fall by the wayside for IT teams. However, innovation may be the best avenue for data centers to find advantages and compete.
  • Bandwidth in the Face of Edge Technology – Working from home (WFH) and video conferencing can mean a rapid increase in edge bandwidth needs. As edge services become more valuable and sophisticated, computing capacity may need to scale up to address the increased demand.

Enterprise data centers don’t need to face future challenges alone. Vertiv offers software and hardware solutions to alleviate current resource management bottlenecks and help data center managers better prepare for future needs.


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