DCOI stands for data center optimization initiative. It is part of a U.S. government mandate that requires all federal data centers to implement efficiency, energy, and cost saving measures.
“In 2010, the Office of Management and Budget launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative to promote the use of green IT by reducing the overall energy and real estate footprint of government data centers, reduce the cost of data center hardware, software and operations, increase the overall IT security posture of the federal government, and shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms and technologies,” explained a recent U.S. Federal CIO memo.
In December 2014, President Obama signed into law the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which enacts and builds upon the requirements of the FDCCI. FITARA requires that agencies submit annual reports that include comprehensive data center inventories; multi-year strategies to consolidate and optimize data centers; performance metrics and a timeline for agency activities; and yearly calculations of investment and cost savings.”
Next came the DCOI, announced in March 2016, which stipulates the installation of data center infrastructure management software in the data centers of federal agencies. DCOI replaces the now six-year-old FDCCI and has much stricter goals and additional rules meant to reduce the government’s sprawling data center inventory and the amount of money it takes to maintain it.
In essence, DCOI requires federal agencies to develop and report on data center strategies to consolidate inefficient infrastructure, optimize existing facilities, achieve cost savings, and transition to more efficient infrastructure, such as cloud services and inter-agency shared services through the capabilities imparted by third-party DCIM software. DCOI also raises the number of data centers government agencies are required to close.
To become DCOI compliant, government data centers must choose a DCIM solution to automate monitoring, asset, and capacity management. In addition, the solution should monitor the facilities side of the data center, which includes cooling, branch circuits, temperature, etc. Reporting on adherence is paramount, as agencies must prove that they can measure their progress toward the goals required to meet the DCOI mandate.
When considering purchasing any software platform, as always, caveat emptor is definitely applicable. Here’s a list of features and criteria to look for when selecting the best DCIM solution provider for your federal data center.
The vendor’s DCIM solution should provide insight into the five main areas that DCOI targets.
To meet these mandates, it’s critical that a data center operator have real-time views into many details about the facility such as the following.
- Real-time energy monitoring should be done by automatically extracting current energy usage and accurately displaying the overall trending information.
- Facility and IT managers must have the ability to identify stranded, unused power, and space capacity so resources can be used most efficiently and actually reduce power consumption by 15 to 25 percent.
- They must have asset tracking for users to follow assets throughout their lifecycle, from loading dock-to-decommission; and real-time, accurate inventory audits, with floor plan views facilitate consolidation and capacity planning.
- Data center managers must have the ability to establish a baseline of power use, then record data over a period of time to prove to the government that successful measures have been implemented.
- There should be integration with leading virtualization providers to determine the ration of physical servers to be virtualized.
- Workflow capabilities should be in place to keep track of all changes and moves, and to divert personnel to new, more productive work.
In addition, the DCIM solution should be able to track goals and target dates, to inform the data center professionals how close they are to achieving their objectives, and when, based on trending, they might be reached. This information should be available only to approved personnel, but accessible to employees in one location or many, depending on the rights granted to those individuals or groups.
The vendor should have experience working with federal agencies.
Working with the federal government takes a unique set of skills and experience. The evaluation and purchasing processes are very different than those in the private sector. Thus, your vendor should have in-depth experience working with federal agencies.
Make sure that the DCIM vendor you choose not only has day-to-day experience working with the federal government’s civilian, Department of Defense, and intelligence agencies, but also has a current, active roster of government customers that are willing to act as references and vouch for the vendor’s customer service and the solution’s effectiveness.
The vendor’s DCIM should be built on a modern architecture.
A modern architecture in a DCIM solution provides flexibility, scalability, security, and ease of use. It also provides the ability to easily integrate and maintain those integrations into other ITSM systems.
DCIM architectures vary greatly, and you need to make sure you choose a DCIM solution that can scale to handle whatever size data center/data room infrastructure you have. Additionally, a DCIM solution has to be able to not only handle the volume of changes occurring in your data centers, but also integrate with other relevant systems – which may be various types of equipment, IT systems, and processes of different ages and origins. The ideal solution should be vendor neutral and offer pre-built system connectors (e.g. ITSM, BSM, RFID, etc.) to ease any transition.
The DCIM solution should also offer dashboards and reports that are built on a powerful and flexible business intelligence engine, and are user configurable, so they provide information to all users, based on their needs, requirements, and job responsibilities.
One should ensure the solution is built on a web-based, flexible architecture that provides maximum value and the lowest total cost of ownership – and federal government this is essential.
The vendor should have certified security credentials.
Security is a critical issue as more businesses rely on cloud services and third-party software. This challenge is even more critical when the end user is a federal agency. Make sure that the security of the DCIM software you choose is certified by a third party, such as earning a VerAfied credential from an organization like Vericode.
A security mark of distinction assures that the vendor is actively identifying and remediating possible application vulnerabilities and is ever vigilant to keep your information safe. It demonstrates the vendor’s commitment to developing and maintaining hardened and secure applications. This level of security is highly recommended for applications that are business-critical, and assures the federal agency that the application has met or exceeded respected industry standards for security, reliability, and compliance.
The goals and values of the vendor should be in line with yours.
The goal of DCOI is to consolidate data centers and economize by cutting down on energy expenses and resources required. This ultimately results in data centers not only using less energy, but also requiring fewer assets. So the DCIM vendor you choose should not be trying to sell you more hardware. This extra sale ultimately consumes more resources, which directly goes against the goals of optimization. More hardware is the last thing a customer needs when looking to consolidate and scale back resources being consumed.
Finally, it’s important to partner with a vendor that is pure-play software provider and DCIM software is all they do, every day. Not a vendor that’s DCIM business is just peripheral and could be lost in a bigger business organization that places its hardware revenue business above the needs of your organization’s desire to optimize.
The DCOI creates worthy objectives for all federal data centers. It’s going to be a challenge to meet the goals layed out by the federal government, but with a solid DCIM solution, one that can display the information needed in a clear, actionable, single-pane-of-glass view, it can be done.
Mark Gaydos is chief marketing officer for Nlyte Software (www.nlyte.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi