The trend for organisations to move processing to webscale Cloud providers and hosted facilities may be reducing demands on physical IT infrastructure in owner operated data centres but the shift from core to edge computing, driven by the Internet of Things, Mobile Computing and Cloud applications, provides new challenges for physical infrastructure at the edge. To meet this a better set of tools and processes is required to manage assets, capacities, cabling and workflow.
Managing the critical physical infrastructure at the edge using twentieth century tools like excel spreadsheets is much harder than managing a centrally located owner operated data centre where you have boots on the ground. Getting around a distributed infrastructure of comms rooms and racks in branch offices and remotes sites to manage assets and capacities can be a challenge. To manage an Edge Computing Network effectively you need 21st century software and processes. If you have tens, hundreds or thousands of racks to manage in small clusters across multiple sites you need a good model of your physical infrastructure providing good data on where your assets and capacity constraints are. If you don’t you could find your network crashing under the strain of a new Wi-Fi solution, Intelligent Building System or Cloud Application. That’s where a good Physical Infrastructure Management software tool can help.
Choosing the right software to help you manage physical infrastructure can be daunting. Do you choose DCIM (Data Centre Infrastructure Management) or PIM (Physical Infrastructure Management)? The high licence costs and professional services required to make DCIM work, can result in expensive shelf ware. But there is an alternative. Select a Physical Infrastructure Management Software tool wisely and you will reap the benefits in greater resilience, faster repair and deployment of assets and infrastructure and greater visibility of risk and compliance issues. Ignore magic quadrants and marketing hype, do your own research check up on references and create a checklist. If you are looking for a flexible adaptable and affordable 21st Century tool to help you manage your physical infrastructure then this list of features is a good starting point to help you find the right solution;
- Ability to map all network connections through patch panels to switch ports
- Ability to map and report on all capacities; network, power, cooling, space
- Ability to detail all asset attributes and search and report on them
- Flexible approach to creating non-standard asset library items
- Open architecture with API s; lower support and integration costs
- Flexible reporting; you don’t want to raise a new feature request for every new report
- Flexible work flow; make the tool adapt to your processes
- Low license costs – beware of a modular approach where you have to pay more for new features.
- Strong case studies and references
- Experienced local integration partners, you will need professional services so don’t rely on expensive vendor resource.
When you find right tool invest in it and nurture for the long term. A good PIM software solution will deliver benefits over a long period if it is well maintained Avoid big bang project implementations. Create a well-defined scope of what you want to achieve with realistic objectives and plan for a long role out. You may have to overcome years of bad practise so don’t try to change the culture in a few weeks. Build consensus based on strong use cases and a proof of concept and momentum will build without people feeling the tool is being forced upon them.
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