Data Centre ICT Automation / Orchestration Innovation of the Year
Overcoming the disappointment of DCIM
Effective Data Centre ICT Automation and Orchestration requires something that has been lacking in our sector for many years. This missing element is true integration of the separate ICT and Facilities elements that comprise the core of any data centre. Ken Brill, the founder of the Uptime Institute in 1992 recognised this and even published a paper in 2006 with the title of: ‘Why IT and Facilities must work closely together’.
Despite all the obvious advantages including improved energy efficiency, cost reduction and enhanced reliability we have not moved a great deal forward in this area. Service delivery remains heavily siloed, facilities and ICT teams are often not aligned and do not share common objectives while digital infrastructure deployments are becoming increasingly more complex and hybrid. Many organisations now have an ICT estate comprising Private and Public Cloud, Edge, Colocation and legacy on premise enterprise.
The obvious solution to the management of these increasingly complex estates is DCIM, however DCIM has failed to impress and thus far done very little to bring together the worlds of ICT and Facilities even in single data centres ever mind the kind of complex deployments highlighted above.
This is changing though and at last DCIM is starting to banish the ICT blind spots and provide a panoramic window into the ICT stack. RiT Tech has taken DCIM into the IT stack and with their use of open-sourced API and SDK solutions, the opportunities to finally embrace the entire ICT stack and integrate with legacy Facilities systems are endless. The roadmap to continuous innovation in automation and orchestration is, of course, to make complex infrastructure, tasks and workflows easy to manage. But more than this, true automation and orchestration must provide predictability through scenario planning, the aggregation of data from multiple sources and systems, the analysis of that data to create useful information and finally to use the compiled information to offer solutions and to allow informed automated management across the entire data centre estate.
A genuine DCIM product, such as XpedITe from RiT Tech, offers true management capabilities rather than just the monitoring available with the historically disappointing legacy DCIM systems. It is often forgotten that the ‘M’ in DCIM stands for Management and not merely Monitoring.
XpedITe provides the ability to analyse facilities and ICT infrastructure across different types of geographically dispersed sites. This has proved extremely important to clients during the Covid Pandemic with the restrictions on travel and the inability to get people to sites to verify infrastructure details. For those using XpedITe, there has been no need to rely on site visits to verify installations to create work orders or manage third party installers, this is all dealt with by XpedITe.
Management and integration are available throughout the IT stack based on seamless and effortless integration with specialist systems such as BMS, CRM and ITSM solutions through to application performance and ICT Hardware analytics.
The data centre sector needs to have a solution they can have faith in, one that provide reliable, accurate information and that can support the data centre growth and increasing expansion into remote ‘dark’ and unmanned ‘Edge’ sites without reductions in site reliability and the introduction of risk. Without the use of effective management tools offering ICT Automation and Orchestration this growth and expansion at scale is not possible.
Modular by design is the only way to tick all the boxes – HDIM, ML, DCIM
XpedITe has this ability to make all of this possible. Rather than attempting to be the entire ecosystem, its vision is to supplement existing capabilities – not replace them. XpedITe is modular by design – a hi-tech toolset from which data centre operators can select the services they require.
For data centre operators, this encyclopaedic insight - coupled with automated planning and provisioning tools - delivers a tangible return on investment by ensuring any unexpected downtime is diminished and the performance of assets is optimised. To this end, the platform’s ever-expanding range of integration adapters allow it to interact with commonly used devices and software systems, reducing disruption and risks during deployment. Whether connecting to switches, servers and chillers or building management systems, configuration management databases and customer relationship management (CRM) software, XpedITe actively streamlines the sharing of information and processes.
Indeed, it thrives on federating previously disparate systems, data sets and environments to create an accurate real-time picture across any given network. The more systems available for XpedITe to connect to, the more detailed the insight it can provide of the make-up and performance of every rack, cabinet, cable and port, and the greater the efficiencies it can deliver.
XpedITe is a platform that proudly works well with others to provide an extensive knowledge chain and information exchange across the whole business, giving those who require a window into operations an up-to-the-minute picture to consult. Connecting the ICT department with data centre management and clients with sales and support teams through CRM, XpedITe is a conduit for community communication, service delivery and cooperation and has no interest in operating in isolation.
Delivering on the promise with Intel inside
In order to enable a full stack ICT approach, RiT Tech has enabled a strategic integration of Intel® Data Center Manager (Intel® DCM) into their XpedITe platform. Together, the companies provide the opportunity to significantly improve visibility into the granular level of data centre compute assets to track and optimize available resources. This addresses an increasing demand from data centre operators for innovative opportunities to leverage software for resource optimisation. Intel® DCM adds industry leading features to RiT Tech’s platform for data centre management, automation and orchestration within the ICT estate.
Intel® has developed their DCM suite to offer data centre operators the ability to collect and analyse real-time health, power, thermal profiles and hardware inventory of devices and groups of devices within data centres. As well as health and utilisation monitoring among the many benefits offered is that the Intel® DCM suite allows data centre operators to automate health monitoring, identify underutilized servers, measure energy usage by device, safely increase rack density, power management and optimization of application power consumption, cooling capacity consumption, cooling effectiveness monitoring, improved asset management, reliable project planning predictive identification of cooling problems and more. Intel® DCM has been developed from the outset as a data centre management solution designed specifically for data centres, it collects the real time data directly from the IT devices and is able to deliver the value both to the IT and Facility operators
The seamless integration between RiT Tech’s XpedITe platform and the Intel® DCM has resulted in the realisation of some major data centre optimisation advantages. Specifically, the benefits of this joint approach cover both operational and financial efficiencies across the entire data centre estate.
Hybrid Operational Efficiency and Availability:
- Bridging the ICT and Facilities gap.
- Real time granular data at the ICT equipment level using telemetry direct from Intel chips within servers
- Monitoring of temperatures is direct from the ICT equipment (Every server is a sensor).
- Real time monitoring of power on the device level with no need for a smart PDU
- Improved granularity of data offering more scope for analytics.
- Increase rack densities without risk.
- Improve capacity planning and project management.
- Identification of cooling risks and hotspots within the rack.
- Collate info for Machine Learning to look for anomalies to predict cooling events before they impact the SLA
- Automate ICT System Health Monitoring
- Retrieve data to Power-aware Job Scheduling Tasks
- Optimize Application Power Consumption
- Greater understanding specific server models and configurations
- Identify Firmware inconsistencies
- Capture alerts directly from ICT equipment
- Right sizing the infrastructures to eliminate over or under provisioning of power/cooling
- Reduced power consumption.
- Reduce cooling associated costs by increasing cooling efficiencies.
- Power capping to the physical level (Rack/Row/Room) and to logical groups (departments/projects/clusters)
- Lower management and technician overhead.
- Optimized infrastructure utilization and deferment of capital costs.
- More effective capacity planning and available resource utilisation.
- Ensure that racks are provisioned for best asset and resource usage.
- Use the maximum available power in rack.
- Shift workloads using ‘power and thermal aware job scheduling’.
- Ensure that servers and storage are highly utilised to work most efficiently (High utilisation on 5 servers is far more efficient than low usage on 10 servers – a minimal decrease in performance saves a disproportionate amount on power / cost).
- Accurate view of the service(s) supported, the performance and utilisation level of each device.
- Avoid the need to use Expensive PDUs and Smart Power Strips.
- Increase Rack Densities to increase site capacity.
- Identify Underutilized/ ‘Zombie’ Servers
- The ability to push set points up on CRAC units to reduce energy consumption and cost.
Unlike the DCIM tools developed by data centre infrastructure manufacturers, the integration of XpedITe and Intel® DCM has resulted in a platform that enhances data centre operational processes and provides a platform for facilities and ICT professionals to more effectively communicate and collaborate with a common understanding and a single shared window into the heart of the data centre operational process and infrastructure.
Technology is embedded in day-to-day business, and should not be seen as a cost, but rather as an enabler and opportunity to create competitive advantage. Business goals and processes can be facilitated using technology based in efficiently operated data centres, and conversely business risks and technology risks can be minimised by using approaches and solutions such as XpedITe.
XpedITe is a conduit for community communication and operation
In the future we may broaden this spirit of collaboration by inviting developers from different organisations to experiment and innovate with a view to adding to our inventory of integration adapters. Going “open source” could open the door to further connectivity and we would, of course, ensure any products created collaboratively satisfy our stringent security and accuracy standards.
XpedITe, our next-generation data centre, network, infrastructure and operations management solution, empowers its users with "X-ray" vision by federating disparate systems and environments to create an accurate, real-time picture of any given network.
Example innovation this year: A customisable client facing portal, providing 360 degree visibility
Delivering round-the-clock clarity and peace of mind as to the health and performance levels of systems, the portal affords clients "hands-on" control of provisioning from a distance and keeps customers informed at all times through its automated alerts and resolution notifications.
XpedITe's integration with existing Customer Relationship Management platforms further enhances this visibility - arming sales teams with the statistics to communicate with authority and track the progress of new and existing accounts in real-time and ultimately improving data centre Service Management capabilities.
In brief, there is no reason to leave your clients in the dark. It's time to become a beacon of best practice and deliver an unprecedented level of customer care.
Why are we worthy winners?
XpedITe, RiT Tech’s next-generation data centre infrastructure management system removes a significant burden from the shoulders of all those responsible for running and preserving digital services by becoming an all-seeing eye and enabling the ability to orchestrate operations across all sites and assets in any given network. Armed with a complete and high-fidelity picture that bridges previous gaps between disparate systems and environments, migration goes from being a mission wrought with risk to a controlled and easy-to-manage process.
XpedITe brings expediency to the transition by identifying any potential points of failure, flagging impacted devices and – using its advanced algorithms – producing accurate work orders for execution (even by third party operators), in order to maintain continuity of service.
And our hi-tech tool’s attributes go far beyond the planning of which plugs to pull and replace first during a migration. Indeed, a data centre does not need to be on the move to benefit. XpedITe enhances everyday operations by enabling points of failure and breaches of physical security to be immediately detected, optimising networks and mitigating against any unnecessary or unplanned downtime. Its automated work orders significantly reduce maintenance times and any network changes can be implemented and properly labelled with complete peace of mind having been forensically thought through.
Regardless of its point of introduction in a data centre’s lifecycle, RiT Tech’s innovative solution delivers reassurance and a return on investment. Whether utilised to plan a new facility, improve the efficiency of an existing site or manage self-migration, XpedITe’s live data allows informed decisions to be made quickly today, while planning, provisioning and preparing for tomorrow.