XpedITe, RiT Tech’s response to the changing needs and expectations for DCIM solutions
Data Centre ICT Automation/Orchestration Innovation of the Year
Background for entry
The expectations for DCIM have changed and DCIM has changed as a result. There are a number of reasons for this, but a key factor is the fact that DCIM is no longer seen as a single solution as has been promoted and sold by legacy DCIM providers. Rather now it is seen as a suite of tools occupying specialist niches which will vary according to different business models and customer preferences. It is no longer true that one size fits all. It is also true that a DCIM system should not merely be capable of offering monitoring. As the words behind the acronym suggest the key is active management. Simple monitoring should no longer be sufficient to be considered as a true DCIM tool as has historically been the case with some legacy offerings.
This has directly led to the basic requirement that a true DCIM tool should be able to offer rapid, low resource overhead integration with other key systems deployed by the data centre operator. Naturally this also therefore requires the combination of disparate data sets from multiple tools in order to create a single accurate perspective on the installed assets and their performance within the data centre. The accuracy of the data being captured and held is critical. Again capturing and combining raw data is important the accuracy of the data and the way that it can be combined and analysed to convert it into useful management information supporting intelligent decision making covering all aspects of data centre operations has historically been the missing element.
Importantly this is in relation to the entire data centre ecosystem, not just the building / facilities components but also, and importantly the IT, and Network systems too in order to break down the traditional FM and IT siloes. Without visibility of the IT stack as well as the facilities infrastructure how can we really judge the energy performance or the environmental impact of a particular site or operation? It is XpedITe’s capabilities in dealing with ICT Automation/Orchestration in data centres along with demonstrating all the requirements of a true ICT Management (DCIM) solution as well as our firm commitment to ongoing customer led product development that has convinced RiT Tech to enter both innovation awards this year.
This has been evidenced by the decision to End of Life Trellis and Aperture by Vertiv. The difficulty in moving away from traditional legacy DCIM solutions has been highlighted by both these products and Vertiv’s decision to move on despite massive investment as the transition has simply proved too difficult and too costly.
To reinforce this view there has been a resurgence of interest recently in DCIM tools as the data centre sector has recognised the need to reliably support and manage remote unmanned Edge sites and to deal with what effectively became remote support for larger sites when travel and site access were restricted by Covid.
RiT Tech is submitting this award both to highlight the changing nature of DCIM but also to demonstrate how RIT Tech has responded to these changing needs and emerging customer requirements with XpedITe.
At a time where infrastructure and operations managers are finding it challenging to manage their increasing hybrid and disseminated data centre estate, XpedITe provides an opportunity to bring together management and monitoring systems capable of providing multiple teams with actionable insights – from automated provisioning to accurate and reliable asset management.
For our clients, their most important requirement is to deliver one central source of reliable data using a federated system that maps their entire infrastructure and seamlessly integrates with existing engineering and business tools. But rather than attempting to represent the entire ecosystem, XpedITe aims to supplement and leverage existing legacy systems’ capabilities – not replace them.
XpedITe is modular by design – a platform from features can be selected as required and used to integrate or replace existing legacy solutions over time. To this end, the solution’s ever-expanding range of integrations allow it to interact with commonly used devices, monitoring systems and management applications, reducing deployment time, disruption, risks, costs and human overhead.
A most recent example is the creation of the CRM integration module and customer portal. For one of our clients, we were able to help them recover over 2million USD in lost revenue just by integrating XpedITe’s asset management and capacity tracker with their CRM system. Through the customer portal, our client also highlighted that we have improved profitability by reducing the costs of managing and processing work orders by 30%.
XpedITe is a platform that provides universal intelligent infrastructure management for data centre operators, stakeholders and customers. It differs from other products in that it is the only data centre infrastructure management tool that can fully connect the facility infrastructure with the IT layer as well as corporate policies and operational workflows within one platform.
How does XpedITe work?
There are four key elements that make it work as a truly federated platform.
1. Integration with legacy monitoring and management systems:
XpedITe’s proprietary Integration Adapters allow seamless integration of our platform with the most popular devices and software systems existing in data centre environments, including
• Facility and IT assets like chillers, CRAC and CRAH units, sensors, UPS, PDU, etc
• As well as other management systems like BMS, ITSM Solutions, CMDB Implementations, CRM, PMS, EMS and others.
Our integration adapters make integration easy, low cost and fast, providing one single source of truth. XpedITe’s adapters and APIs support a wide variety of protocols, formats, and communication channels on a case-by-case basis including BACnet, Modbus and higher level application based protocols such as SSH / Telnet / XML / HTML as well as basic data import and transfer structures using CSV / TEXT etc.
As innovators, we are continuously expanding the ability to integrate with additional devices and software systems driven both by industry innovation and customer requirements. For devices and software systems which are not currently covered by XpedITe’s Integration Adapters and APIs, we are continuously expanding the availability based on our clients’ requests.
2. Smart data store:
We have designed XpedITe to collect, aggregate and analyse data from multiple diverse data sources within the data centre including a vendor agnostic approach to software systems integration and recognition of assets. The smart data store allows XpedITe to collect and store a range of data from diverse sources in a uniform structure and generate a 360-degree view of the entire data centre, based on data set interconnection and analytics, to provide actionable inter-dependency analysis and operational insight.
The smart data store also allows an aggregative data summary and analysis, so that data sets are not read in isolation. Not only can operators see different assets separately, but they can see these assets interacting with other items sets such as other types of assets, Configuration Items, capacity indicators, environmental indicators, resource utlisation (eg weight, switch ports, panels, power at PDU units, cooling provision and space etc.) by rack/cabinet, room and floor.
The last key element is XpedITe’s ability to analyse data and turn it into useful management information. It offers intelligent analysis and allows efficient planning and risk management – ultimately underpinning reassurance in the ongoing service availability from the data centre.
3. Open platform: powerful API and SDK:
XpedITe was developed as an open platform from the outset so that it works easily with and alongside other systems using API and SDK features. Xpedite offers Software Development Kit (SDK) libraries allowing customers to easily define and enforce Automated Provisioning rules and powerful Application Programming Interface (API) to provide rapid and low-cost integration capabilities for bespoke scenarios.
To enable successful implementation, integration, alignment with the diverse needs of clients' and their environments with a clear ROI – we offer six critical success factors.
1. Automation to improve efficiency – from asset provisioning to resource utlisation
2. Usability and ease of use – set up, implementation and readability
3. Platform modularity and customisable deployments
4. Dynamically defined processes and automated workflows
5. The flexibility to define bespoke organisational policies and preferences.
6. Processes automation – to make things more efficient
7. Intelligent insights for customisable KPIs – focusing on what is important for the business and its clients
The most innovative aspect of our solution is creating a 360-degree DC management and operation, with a real-time and complete view of a data centre.
We focussed on this particular aspect, as pioneers of automated infrastructure management, our clients were telling us they needed to bring all monitoring systems into one place to manage the complexity and sheer volume of data being created.
What benefits has this innovation achieved?
- Integration with all management and monitoring systems like CRM (Salesforce), BMS (Tridium, Schneider, Trend etc.), ITSM (ServiceNow) and many others.
- Enabling cross dept and operations collaboration – facility, IT, product and sales, service delivery and management teams.
- The creation of a Customer portal which allows efficient involvement and asset management by customers especially in colocation environment which not only makes things more robust and precise but also contributes customer satisfaction, promotes sales and potentially grows revenues.
To maintain this level of innovation, we must continue to evolve. The recent investment from the Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA) will enable this to happen.
This funding award will help XpedITe, as a Universal Intelligent Infrastructure Management solution, provide data centre managers with intelligent automation and predictive insight and planning capabilities.
Solution Flexibility, a Key aspect of any DCIM solution
Our product and solution can be adapted for the different types of data centres as its capabilities are adapted according to the environment.
For Colocation Sites:
XpedITe provides capabilities that enable cross department collaboration and cross organisation decision making by integrating with all legacy systems and providing single source of truth.
Furthermore, it provides Colo’s customers with complete control of their assets through XpedITe Customer Portal module, which not only helps provides to save on costs by improving operational efficiency, but also contributes revenues generation by increasing customer satisfaction and making client’s requests highly convenient and accessible.
Managing a physical data centre is a challenge characterised by complexity. Coordinating these components, while also focusing on multiple conflicting goals such as power and cooling efficiency, carbon footprint, service quality and return on investment, is a formidable feat.
XpedITe, serves to simplify the burden on operators, by acting as a federated management platform that intelligently links previously disparate systems. It automates workflows, improves operational efficiencies and helps to reduce total cost of ownership.
Until very recently there were no tools available that could offer a federated platform with actionable insights. Because of the of the siloed approach to data centre management there were no tools that could offer an holistic view to both colocation operators and their customers. This is no longer the case.
XpedITe is capable of offering the ability to analyse multiple data sets across sites and provide intelligent solutions for managing the data centre throughout the entire stack, from the BMS, to the IT equipment and through to application performance. This rich feature set and full integration across the entire data centre stack provides the opportunity to offer a value added service will be seen as a key differentiator for colocation providers and a key element to reducing operational overhead and deriving maximum benefit from their colocation provider by their customers.
For Edge and Dark sites:
XpedITe provides remote management capabilities and adds value through operational efficiency. XpedITe provides a single version of truth, automation of equipment deployment and workflows and reduces the need for human resource onsite. Adapted to this environment, it brings four key values to Edge sites:
1. The first is the ability to offer a single accurate representation of the assets in a number of local and remote data centres. This accurate single source of truth can be derived in a number of ways but can include auto-discovery, full, easy and rapid integration with other systems and tools involving the sharing and rationalising of multiple data sets in order to seek out the truth. This includes both facility infrastructure details as well as the IT infrastructure including the potential to share data with a remote CMDB
2. Secondly, XpedITe offers the ability to automate equipment deployment planning, taking into account customer specific rules and practices in addition to industry standard requirements, such as true dual path resilience on both power and network connectivity. Not only does this automation significantly reduce planning time (by hours and days), it can also be done remotely without the need for site visits.
3. Thirdly, XpedITe generates automated work orders offering simple step by step instructions for the Adds, Moves and Changes determined above. These can be issued to 3rd parties with limited of zero site knowledge to implement according to simple detailed instructions. The works orders even include instructions for correct equipment and cable labelling.
4. Finally, seamless integration with your existing ticketing system simplifies internal process and has the potential to reduce the number of hand offs between disciplines and departments. This reduces both the administrative resource burden and the opportunity for errors for both local and remote sites.
With the capability for real time monitoring and data collection from both the facilities equipment in a site as well as the IT components, XpedITe offers a comprehensive management package that allows you to orchestrate your data centre site operations equally effectively whether it is a fully staffed multi-megawatt core site or a small multi-kilowatt Edge site that is rarely visited.
For Hybrid environments:
XpedITe is designed to manage complex environments from true hyperscaler facilities to hybrid solutions. With XpedITe, hybrid environments can manage sites remotely, plan space and track every work order or fault issue through one software system.
Complex Hybrid environments need sophisticated solutions. From automated provisioning and work orders to meeting sustainability goals. XpedITe can be used to plan for growth, new locations or outsourcing to third party providers. Reliance on third parties across different geographies brings with it the risk of works being incorrectly implemented or that time is wasted through lack of understanding, inaccurate work orders, incomplete asset registers or difficulties in communication. For remote managers operating tens of thousands of on-premise racks, our system can visualise the true picture of what is taking place at your facility, edge or colocation sites across the world.
XpedITe can be adapted to manage and plan for the key performance indicators that meet with the clients needs, aligned with policies and procedures, manage risk and resources. Its main value here is that it can provide a single global view to operators in order to improve operational efficiency.
Many vendors claim to provide data centre operators with useable and actionable data but this is really not the case. We know this because our clients tell us why XpedITe is the preferred solution for them.
Over 70%-80% of deployments fail due to lack of required product's flexibility as well as lack of customisations required to adopt a solution to organizational needs and processes. Without successful implementation there is no value in a DCIM solution. Many sector leaders share with us that they have seen many solutions on the market but have also frequently seen DCIM purchases ‘sitting on a shelf’ unused.
Organisations may end up having systems in place with no active use. This is what they want to avoid and can by using XpedITe has the following features:
o Ability to have vendor agnostic integration with all assets and legacy systems
o Ability to customise the solution to truly address clients’ bespoke needs
o Bridge traditional silos and allow inter-department collaboration
o Align workflows and business specific processes
o Automation of provisioning, work orders, third party installations etc.
To finish, XpedITe is a worthy winner as it is unique, innovative and enables effective data centre day to day operations with a demonstrable ROI. As a disruptor, it is the first and only platform to truly address these operational challenges that the data centre sector currently faces.
Data centre operators are choosing our product over industry leaders for its two unique elements:
1. It is Universal. XpedITe has integration capabilities that no other vendor on the market currently has. To provide the single source of truth, it integrates across multiple DC layers within the data centre – from vendor agnostic facility and IT assets to network and power connectivity as well as variety of third party systems, like BMS, CMDB, ITSM solutions etc. It provides all departments a single version of the truth in order to have a true and accurate representation of all assets and performance within a data centre as well as actionable insights so that no data set is treated as a silo and all stakeholder teams can collaborate.
2. It is Intelligent. On top of its ability to integrate with assets and legacy systems, XpedITe offers modules for efficient operation using the data collected - through processes management and automation as well assistive decision-making capabilities.
To reinforce this only last summer (August 2021), XpedITe and RiT Tech secured significant investment from the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) – a gruelling process where the winner must prove they will transform an industry, not only evolve it.
Selected customer details highlighting some innovations offered by the XpedITe platform
Global Banking Customer (Global Corporate Enterprise Data Centre Example)
1. Number of sites: 56 data centres and 600 offices. All data centres and offices having 2 separated communications rooms.
2. Cabinets supported: 15,000 30K
3. Cabinet PDUs supported: 30,000
4. Number of employees supported: Directly – 1,500. Within the organization overall – Over 100K
5. People space supported (including trading floors etc.): 600 buildings each with several floors (Small building with 100 users per floor. Large buildings with 700 users per floor)
6. Integrations in place and what are they?: Network Discovery and application mapping tools, In-house cabinet allocation tool, In-house global asset CMDB, In-house Space planning and mapping system, In-house action request system for asset provisioning.
7. Additional useful facts:
a. Any network connection or change plus MAC address change is documented by the system
b. An equipment provisioning automation engine incorporates 8 global provisioning rules unique to the organisation and applied globally (Corporate Policy). This relates to both data centre and people space.
c. The automated provisioning has improve the project planning and deployment time by more than 10,000%
d. Planning for one floor used to take several weeks now it can be completed in 10 minutes.
e. The customer is also monitoring power consumption with the XpedITe tool
f. The customer is using XpedITe integration capabilities to migrate away from a legacy dependency on MS Excel
8. Length of time as an XpedITe customer: 4 years
UK Financial Markets Customer (Enterprise Data Centre Example)
1. Number of sites: 20 sites, growing rapidly
2. Cabinets supported: 3,000 currently, growing to 10,000 this year
3. Cabinet PDUs supported: 20,000
4. Number of employees supported: Directly – 500 up to 1000. Within the organization overall – Over 10K
5. Integrations in place and what are they?: ServiceNow, in-house PDU scanning tool, BMS
6. Additional useful facts:
a. Using XpedITe to replace Nlyte and other tools
b. Now using XpedITe PDU scanning capabilities to plan and provide power usage details
c. Currently planning the use of the Xpedite customer portal / dashboard capabilities
7. Length of time as an XpedITe customer: 1.5 years
Israel Based Data Centre Colocation Provider (Colocation Data Centre Example)
1. Number of sites: 2
2. Cabinets supported: 1,300
3. Cabinet PDUs supported: 2,600
4. Customers Supported: 900 customers and 1700 active customer users
5. Additional useful facts:
a. Replacing an older legacy system with the XpedITe
b. Now using XpedITe PDU scanning capabilities to plan and provide power usage details
c. XpedITe multitenancy feature allows customer management and utilisation / capacity reporting based on appropriate security access rights. These include capacity and utilisation management including: Location, cabinets and in-cabinet (Rack Unit level), power, weight etc.
d. Employing a DMZ network configuration in order to provide customer access to the dashboard / portal
e. The Xpedite customer portal / dashboard is being used to give customers the option to connect to the system in order to open tickets and view customer specific internal data
6. Key features of the colocation customer dashboard / portal:
a. Integration to CRM system (2 directional) , all new action to open new customer or new allocation for customer the ticket is opening by this integration, when that ticket completed Xpedite platform update the CRM that the action was completed
b. Integration to Customer portal, the system update CRM system when customer open new request for (visit site, problems or any change request)
c. Integration to BMS system to get all environmental data and power data for UPS and room PDU