The trend to everything-as-a-service in the IT world is providing a spark of innovation for our IT solution provider community. As with any shift, some are going all-in and repositioning themselves as managed service providers. However, for most, a more conservative approach means the provision of additional services as they digitalize their businesses.
Meeting the Demands for Mission Critical Applications
However, decisions about these transitions are time critical. The trend towards edge computing, together with the proliferation of distributed IT environments are being driven by the latency, bandwidth and resiliency requirements of many mission critical applications which do not lend themselves to being hosted using cloud services.
At the same time, customers are challenged to manage these critical on-premise loads. There are resource constraints – many of the environments in which these applications are accommodated are server rooms and IT closets, not purpose designed for high availability. Furthermore, their distributed nature is a potential logistical nightmare for the service organization.
In larger, enterprise data centers, infrastructure monitoring and management challenges have been successfully met over the last decade using on-premise, DCIM software. However, in smaller environments, while DCIM would be undoubtedly useful, the cost and complexity of deployment makes it a difficult choice. The introduction of cloud-based, Data Center Management as a Service (DMaaS) offers, overcomes these challenges.
Levels of Infrastructure Monitoring Defined
A recurring question in my meetings with IT solution providers concerns the levels of data center physical infrastructure monitoring that can be provided using DMaaS solutions such as EcoStruxure IT, and how that can be provided as value-added services to end user customers. In simple terms, connecting equipment to the cloud enables these solution providers to provide their customers with hindsight, insight and foresight about infrastructure performance.
Simply put, there are three levels of infrastructure monitoring which are enabled using DMaaS. These are all useful in increasing degrees to help IT solution providers support customers’ facilities, utilizing data to provide actionable information to increase reliability and availability:
- Descriptive Monitoring
A forensic description of performance provided after the fact, telling what happened and when. This will help identify which parts are not functioning as they should, e.g., batteries and fans.
- Diagnostic Monitoring
Data and alarms are provided in real-time, enabling a fast response to emerging conditions within the facility.
- Predictive Monitoring
The ultimate goal is to be able to tell customers in advance about upcoming service and replacement requirements in the physical layer, to prevent faults before they occur.
Data Center Infrastructure Monitoring IT Solution Opportunities
Obviously, as with on-premise software, IT solution providers can simply provide their customers with a license to EcoStruxure IT software. However, this can be enhanced with installation and commissioning services to connect equipment to the cloud and ensure the system is up and running. Once data starts to flow, it can quickly form the basis of a variety of annuity revenue generating opportunities. For example, power monitoring services can be added to existing service contracts to create additional value for both the customer and the IT solution provider. Take a look at how managed service provider, Vology, was able to successfully build power management services into their portfolio.
It pays to be strategic with data and understand in advance what needs to be collected to achieve customers’ objectives – good practice suggests that IT solution providers agree, in advance, on what data should be collected. So, for example, if uptime is an issue, data should be targeted for collection from power monitoring and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) monitoring systems.
The advantage of the cloud is that this data, once anonymized, can be used together with thousands of other data feeds, to assess whether physical infrastructure equipment is functioning as it should in given environmental conditions. In terms of maintenance, this will help move from break-fix and condition-based programs, to proactive services to ensure uptime.
Learn More about Cloud-based DCIM Opportunities
For more details about EcoStruxure IT and to discuss the opportunities that open up as you provide monitoring services to your customers, please reach out to your APC partner manager – or message me via LinkedIn.