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Why your CFO needs to meet your IT department

<p>Reducing IT&rsquo;s energy consumption is synonymous with cutting costs -- and carbon. Data Center Infrastructure Management is the tool that can help IT managers and CFOs make that happen.</p>

Finance geeks and tech geeks rarely meet.

But they should, and here's why: It would do wonders for a company’s carbon footprint, not to mention its budget, for the finance department to start paying attention to the IT department. Reducing IT’s energy consumption is synonymous with cutting costs -- and carbon.

CFOs, meet Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM).

DCIM, the centralized monitoring and management of all IT equipment and functions, can lead to energy savings that reduce a data center's total operating expenses by up to 20 percent, according to Gartner Research. Thanks to the detailed monitoring afforded with the implementation of DCIM, data center managers are able to continuously measure energy use and make real-time analysis and adjustments as needed, enabling safe operation at higher densities. Under-utilized/comatose servers are a major energy and cost consumer, and when they are identified and eliminated with the help of DCIM, that equals more money for the company.

DCIM is extremely effective in bridging the gap between IT and facilities. However, DCIM is not just an IT and facilities tool. A third user should be a part of the equation: the CFO. CFOs often sign off on DCIM purchases, but rarely engage post-installation.

Improving physical infrastructure planning and management can save significant amounts of energy, capital and operational costs -- all important factors to a CFO. CFOs can also use DCIM to help their companies become more energy aware through public dashboards with key performance indicators.   

During Schneider Electric’s recent investors’ meeting earlier in 2012, it was the finance folks who were most intrigued by the DCIM presentation, which outlined just how vital this software can be for making important business decisions in critical environments. But what exactly does DCIM do?

DCIM software tackles the following operational functions in a data center:

• Monitors and manages all physical equipment in the data center, providing up-to-date inventory;

• Provides a global view of available capacity within an organizational context, giving an instant calculation of actual space, power and cooling consumption, power and network port availability and floor and rack weight limits against overall data center capacity constraints;

• Gives instant server placement recommendation through real-time analysis of available data center capacity, including power, cooling, u-space, network and power ports, capacity strategies, weight limits and more;

• Generates an audit trail for all changes to assets and work orders for a specified range of time, including a record of alarms raised and alarms removed;

• Identifies excess capacity, and indicates which devices can either be decommissioned or used elsewhere, eliminating unnecessary energy usage;

• Provides current and historical Power Usage Effectiveness and Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency values based on the current IT load, yielding a fact-based understanding of energy efficiency at the facility level, as well as insight into energy losses and cost of energy at subsystem level, providing details of which subsystem draws the most costs;

• Simulates any cooling scenario in the data center, instantly visualizing the cooling effect on infrastructure for easy identification of overcooling and hotspots;

• Translates critical events into server impact analysis, and automatically migrates virtual machines that are at risk, to “healthy” hosts with efficient power and cooling resources; and

• Optimizes the IT layer. Historically, data center optimization has been focused around the physical infrastructure, such as power, cooling, etc., but optimization is now being deployed all the way down to the CPU level, focusing on IT power consumption and optimization of servers and ensuring that server sprawl is reduced. It also ensures real-time monitoring of server status for information on utilization, uptime, power consumption and costs. The detailed information enables instant identification of underutilized or idle servers, and is ideal for consolidating or retiring servers and virtual machines.

Those results mean better monitoring and management of all the processes and equipment in IT, data center and mission critical facilities, which ultimately leads to energy savings and of course, that all-important entity, financial savings.

Of course, DCIM software is of the utmost importance to the IT manager, because that person is the owner of all the equipment and processes that take place daily. DCIM software allows the IT manager to understand and receive up-to-the minute information on his or her power, cooling and rack capabilities, and make adjustments to better utilize the resources available and eliminate unnecessary energy spending.

Even though the CFO and other finance department personnel aren’t involved with the daily operations of the IT department, DCIM is useful for these executives from a financial and business decision-making standpoint.

Not because they necessarily need to know in real time what’s going on in the data center, but because for many businesses today, the data center is absolutely mission critical, and making processes within the IT space as energy efficient as possible simultaneously saves dollars. This is true especially in the case of “zombie” servers that are continuously using energy even when not in active use.

DCIM software allows precise identification of these energy consumers, and allows IT managers to stop them in their tracks, greatly reducing waste. Without the data center, the business simply may not be a business. With DCIM, CFOs and IT managers alike can rest assured that their data center, and business, is energy- and cost-efficient.

Photo of data center provided by Asharkyu via Shutterstock.  

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