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Why DCIM needs IT service management – and how to integrate them


Hande Sahin-BahceciIn the early days of data center infrastructure management (DCIM), there was more confusion about its definition and scope. IT organizations tended to take a narrow and cautious approach to DCIM, instead of aiming at the wide-ranging improvements that it makes possible. Even today, administrators ponder DCIM products with rather traditional uses in mind. Typically the starting point is a very specific management problem. How can DCIM software be used to contain power and cooling costs? Or manage capacity? The temptation is to settle for an off-the-shelf solution for a very specific management issue and conclude that your worries are over.


The good news is that nowadays there is at least some standardization around a broad definition of DCIM as the tools, technologies and processes for managing IT infrastructure and facilities.


If you’re somewhat familiar with IT service management (ITSM – sometimes just called “service management”) you may recall a similar discussion around the definition of that discipline. See, for example, this Forrester blog post, where Stephen Mann compares different definitions.


It’s important to have a clear understanding of these two disciplines, because a truly integrated data center needs both. And they need to work closely together. Applying ITSM best practices in the context of the datacenter calls for a better alignment between DCIM and ITSM because data center infrastructure management – as implied by its definition (IT infrastructure and facilities together) – requires a combined view of data center processes along with the capability for holistically managing these processes.  


In reality, the service management aspect is typically missing in most DCIM implementations’ scope or understanding. Service management includes the processes, definitions and standards for managing services (including data center services) from service concept to continual improvement. For example, asset management is not just about managing facility or IT assets in silos; it’s also about looking at the processes and organization for managing these across the entire data center.


ITIL methods alone have not been able to bridge the gap between facilities and IT. Similarly, DCIM alone can’t offer full integration between broader service management systems based on ITSM best practices.

So it’s crucial for businesses to form a stronger bond between DCIM and ITSM. Here are my top 4 recommendations for better DCIM and service management integration:


  1. Think “integration” from the start. Every company needs to grapple with service and portfolio management tasks such as provisioning, change management and asset management. IF you are already using IT management software such as HP OneView, HP Software (HP Asset Manager, HP UCMDB, HP Discovery ) then you are in much better position compared to Excel users. These systems should be part of your DCIM integration planning.  

  2. Include ITSM experts, datacenter service managers, and service owners from your organization in your DCIM planning and tools investigation. Having alignment and shared view among IT infrastructure, facility and service management members of your organization is critical.

  3. Understand the people gaps and process gaps in your DCIM capabilities. ITSM best practices can fill in some of these gaps. But remember that adoption of ITSM is an art and will be somewhat different for each organization.

  4. Work with an outside vendor that can bring in IT infrastructure, facility and service management skills while helping you with planning and implementation of DCIM tools. For example HP Technology Services deliver DCIM project through a mix of IT, facility and service management experts. 

If you’d like to learn more about DCIM and its benefits for your data center, check out this HP IT Insights e-book: Bringing clarity to infrastructure management: Essential information about the fully integrated data center.



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About the Author


Over 15 years of consulting, new technology services development and marketing experience covering data center, IT infrastructure, cloud technology domains. Hande holds a M.B.A degree from Bentley College, MA.


DCIM needs IT service management because the ITIL methods alone have not been able to bridge the gap between facilities and IT. Similarly, DCIM alone can’t offer full integration between broader service management systems based on ITSM best practices. The work which the IT will done can not be made possible by means of the other perspective of the same.

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