DCIM simplifies managing service windows in the data center

Posted 01.09.18 in DCIM Strategy by Freddie Bleiweiss

Data Centers are comprised of thousands, if not millions, of tangible and intangible components, “things”, which are constantly in flux.  The complexity of managing the dynamic relationships of “things” within the data center is a difficult and daunting task.  Managing these dynamic relationships with spreadsheets and static drawing tools is no longer feasible.  Robust CMDBs alone are not able to provide a complete picture.  Managing complexity within a data center requires a Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) suite that dynamically ties together various ITSM tools with a comprehensive suite of data center asset management and data center energy management software.

Managing the lifecycle of a planned change in a data center can be a formidable task.  A planned change can include the tasks of adding, moving, decommissioning, upgrading, or maintaining tangible and intangible assets.  These include various categories of physical assets, virtual devices, cable plant, operating systems, applications, services, and MEP systems.

The change management process within the data center is complex.  One component is the establishment of a “service window.”  A service window (sometimes referred to as a maintenance window) is a period of time, designated in advance, during which maintenance activities that could cause disruption of service may be performed.  The planning and execution of a service window can be an overwhelming and time consuming process.  A major activity within the service window process is identifying the “things” that could be impacted by the planned activity.  Similar to a domino effect, every “thing” within a data center has an effect on other “things” within the data center, which in turn have an effect on more “things.”  Applications and data center services associated to each “thing” must be included in the impact analysis.  The business owners, support teams, interested individuals and their contact information, for each “thing,” must be identified.  The complete chain of interdependencies has to be accurate.

The identification processes can be very complicated and time consuming.  An important aspect is identification of all interested parties.  This procedure allows notifications to business owners, support teams, and interested individuals of the planned event and potential service outages.  Their participation is crucial in the planning process.

In large organizations, the life cycle of a service window could take up to three months to plan and implement.  Considering the large number of service windows (changes) that occur during the course of a year, the cumulative costs associated to these processes could easily be in the millions of dollars.  The long timeframe potentially creates unintended consequences of missing critical services that were added after a service window planning process was initiated and delays in implementing new projects.  Concurrent and overlapping service windows can cause additional problems and unintentional disruptions due to the disassociation of multiple concurrent processes.

Data Center Infrastructure Management software (DCIM) orchestrates with ITSM tools, creating a single gateway to the data required to accurately and quickly identify all “things,” applications, and services that could be impacted by the planned data center activity.  Additionally, the relevant business owners, support teams, interested individuals, and their contact information can be quickly identified.  A DCIM solution manages the complexity of acquiring the information for a successful service window process by automating the orchestration of data from ITSM systems, CMDBs, virtualization management, and data center energy management software.  A DCIM solution interoperates with external as well as internal workflow engines to ensure that every service window initiative complies with predefined policies and procedure.

Utilizing Data Center Infrastructure Management software reduces management to just a few clicks:

  • A workflow process for the service window is initiated
  • All “things” impacted by the service window are quickly identified
  • Quick identification of all business owners, support teams, interested individuals and their contact information
  • Automated notifications can be sent

The workflow process then documents comments and concerns, and guides the service window, in accordance with established policies and procedures, towards a timely conclusion.

A Data Center Infrastructure Management software solution shortens the timeframe, reduces the required man-hours, and minimizes errors, resulting in significant cost savings.


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