“Why should we upgrade or replace our DCIM software that’s working just fine?” That’s probably the most frequently asked question when it comes to discussions about how well suited the current software chosen decades ago is for current and future requirements. It’s also the beginning of a common mistake in reasoning as outdated tools put your reputation, your data and your daily DC operation at risk.
There are dozens of helpful apps and tools available to scan your computer and indicate if you have a security breach or if you need new software. However, when it comes to professional software, just any app or tool is simply not enough. For software products managing the infrastructure of data centers, deploying an up-to-date system can be an influential aspect. However, what are the indicators to determine if it is time to critically examine whether the software that was chosen years ago is still answering your current business needs?
On one hand, we can discuss this question with a piece of theory as we all know the innovation adoption lifecycle. There are some innovators and early adopters using the latest technology or product or software that is available on the market. They are ready and able to take predictable risks and stay at the pulse of times. Followed by the early and late majority, who prefer to rely only on market-proven solutions and let all the little bugs and issues get worked out by someone else. Finally, there are the laggards or stragglers, who repeatedly focus on traditions and often oppose to changes.
This lifecycle is not only an indicator for the easy adoption of new technologies. It shows clearly how often the late majority and laggards struggle to finally let go of what they have in use – whether it is a homegrown or commercial solution.
Hand on heart – which group are you in?
There are a few simple questions to get to the crux of the matter: Is your DCIM tool (or other professional software product you use to plan, document and manage the IT, facility and network infrastructure of your data center) overdue to be updated or even replaced?
Here are some indicators:
- When was the last major update? Don’t accept more than 2 years without a software update as technical requirements continue to grow faster with continual development. Just think about increasing data traffic, Internet of Things, hyperscale data centers – would you be ready to cope with those demands?
- How does your current management system support automation?
Cost pressures force data center managers to entrust more and more tasks between the same number of DC technicians. “Doing more with less” simply requires, at some stage, automation of recurring workflows – and leaves the interesting tasks to the staff while less demanding activities can be left for machines.
- Is system integration a real nightmare for you because of the absence of APIs, data exchange capabilities etc.? Well, to be honest, it shouldn’t be. Data is your most important asset. If used wisely, it can boost daily performance, energy efficiency and be a driver for your business value. Having the overview based on comprehensive data in one central management platform and fed by third party systems means to stay in control – and stay calm even in very stressful periods.
- What about detailed, meaningful reports and analyzes? Are you able to show the business value of your data center to senior management? It is important to know your value to support reaching your objectives. Again, comprehensive data will be your game changer, as they can easily be used for business value KPIs.
- How many departments see your system as important and benefit from your data? Consolidation trends smooth the way towards breaking down silos. Although every expert should stay responsible for a certain remit, the collaboration of teams can be very beneficial for the whole company, for instance, the concept of DevOps. Seeing the whole picture helps employees to foresee outcomes, act more responsibly and reactively, and have a greater understanding if something goes wrong.
Accept when it is time to look for something new
We are all humans and tend to hesitate when making a rapid decision. From the perspective of any data center manager, there are a few issues when speaking in favour to continue with an aged DCIM tool. The argument often goes that the software has been used in the data center for a long time and is therefore greatly important for day-to-day business operations. Furthermore, users have become accustomed to specific functionality and associated processes. Changing the tool always implicates to change processes – which often ends up in endless discussions.
Additionally, the unspoken fear is that a new DCIM tool would interfere with working structure and severely disturb the employees’ comfort zone. Any software that works doesn’t need to be replaced, right? Also, as the application has grown over time within the organization, it contains valuable knowledge that might get lost. Nobody wants to be responsible if something goes terribly wrong when updating or replacing software. This proportionality makes migration initiatives often unsuccessful. Managers tend to delay the indispensable replacement for as long as possible.
Undoubtedly, there are some benefits of a long-standing DCIM tool – but it has to be continually developed and updated. Otherwise, data center managers might not be able to cope with today’s requirements. As digitization processes evolve, the perspective of data center management has to change from its former supporting function to actually being the core of digital companies and a driver of business.
Staying passive puts a lot at stake
If you have been nodding in agreement with the issues listed above, you’ve surely thought about the possible alternatives already. That is very good! Since you already are considering the risks posed by an old system, you know that the only result can be migration to a long-term, sustainable DCIM solution.
However, if you’re still stuck with the old tool, and have not yet had sound arguments against your boss’s and colleagues’ final doubts, both monetary and qualitative issues must be brought into the discussion. Waiting for things to get better creates way more grave consequences than investing now to stay on track.
These consequences include:
- Rising costs: Together with increasing use cases to answer, there will be significantly higher maintenance expenses and costs to keep an old system up and running (just think of security issues) compared to up-to-date standard software.
- Less Context: Know-how is often tied to the software tool and thereby difficult for new employees to acquire, because they have no understanding of the overall context. Comprehensive insights will improve understanding of why and how things should be done – and avoid mistakes.
- More Restrictions: Older systems often show limited flexibility and low adaptability complicates maintenance. Any necessary adaptations to new legal and internal compliance requirements will be costly and complex.
- Increased Risk: Security gaps make the system vulnerable with respect to external attacks and threaten the continuity of the ongoing operation.
- Lower Flexibility: A lack of system scalability often makes adaptation to future business demands quite difficult.
Good project planning is half the battle
Without doubt, it requires some effort to replace an existing DCIM system with new software, but you will not be left to your own devices when you do the job! There are some DCIM vendors (like FNT software) offering supplemental services beyond the standard software, which will accompany you throughout the entire life cycle.
A good vendor will provide expert knowledge on what you really need, what’s the best approach to implement a DCIM software and how to smooth the alignment of processes. They should be able to design an implementation and suitable data migration strategy specially for your needs to ensure operational capability and acceptance of the new solution.