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Trend: Colocation facilities provide tools to manage data centre infrastructure

Robert S. Lindsay | June 23, 2017
Customers gain a view of their gear, better capacity planning.

Enterprises understand the advantages of colocation, but they also know that entrusting mission-critical infrastructure to third-party data centers means giving up some control over their servers.

Data center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools can provide colocation customers with transparency into their data center's operations, to verify that providers are fulfilling the terms of their Service Level Agreements. A DCIM platform gives customers a "single pane of glass" to view the status of their IT infrastructure.

"Today, more colocation providers are offering their customers access to DCIM portals," explains Rhonda Ascierto, Research Director for Data centers and Critical Infrastructure at 451 Research. "Customers want to see how well a colocation facility is operating, not just rely on the SLA. A DCIM tool gives the customer visibility into data center operations, and assurance that the colocation provider is meeting their obligations."

IBX SmartView, offered as an add-on service by Equinix, is an example of a DCIM tool that provides quality assurance. Using a computer, tablet, or smartphone, Equinix customers can access IBX SmartView through a secure customer portal, to view real-time power, temperature, and humidity levels, and electrical resiliency data in the Equinix facilities where their infrastructure is deployed, and within their specific cabinet or cage environments.

"For enterprises and cloud service providers, their IT infrastructure is a key piece of their delivery chain," says Ravi Ravishankar, VP of Product Management and Product Marketing at Equinix. "IBX SmartView gives them the peace of mind that their operations and infrastructure are running smoothly."


Enterprise vs. Home-Grown DCIM Tools

There are two types of DCIM tools. Off-the-shelf enterprise-level tools, such as Intel's Data center Manager, usually measure power, cooling, and airflow for an entire facility. These platforms are most useful to companies with private data centers, since they focus on the data center environment as a whole.

Home-grown DCIM platforms are usually created by colocation companies as an internal monitoring tool for their facilities, but the colocation provider decides to extend access to the platform to customers. These types of tools are more useful for colocation customers, because the provider has often customised their platform according to customer needs.

For example, if an Equinix customer has an internal platform that they use to monitor their own private data centers, they can download data from IBX SmartView into their internal tool, and use it to monitor their Equinix data center deployments as well. Also, IBX SmartView lets customers set up conditional alerts for events in Equinix facilities. For example, the customer might have IBX SmartView notify them by email if their power draw exceeds a certain threshold, or if utility power goes down and the data center is running on a generator.


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