DCIM Helping Managing Critical IT Infrastructure in the Current Pandemic

By: Paul Goodison

I have been speaking to our global customers about the operational changes they have introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve also had the opportunity to hear a few analysts speak on best practices for data center operations during this time.

The universal approach appears to be keeping as many staff as possible away from the site, working remotely and leveraging onsite smart hands when available. Where team members do have to attend site, managers are ensuring social distancing and maintaining the smallest number of people working in the raised floor space possible. From a hygiene perspective, either in-house or external cleaning services are being used to clean and protect work areas regularly, and at least every shift. There does not appear to be any consensus on what, if any, cleaning to conduct inside the data center.

Our customers have told us how much help their DCIM solution has been during this disruption. It is enabling them to manage their data centers, co-location, and IOT sites while minimizing the need for physical access. One customer told us about automating what used to be a manual task of cycling power to a (dual-powered) server. This is usually a manual unplug process, as there are no trusted records of what PDU sockets a device is plugged in to. But with trusted, mobile captured connectivity records, devices outlets are cycled remotely from within DCIM, saving a person traveling to a site. Working to an incredibly tight deadline a healthcare trust who uses DCIM recently used Cormant-CS to manage the deployment of all the IT infrastructure to a new, pop-up, hospital that was constructed inside a convention center. All the equipment deployment and data outlet connectivity were planned, tracked and deployed to ensure everything was going to work the first time.

We have also seen customers use more of their DCIM then they have before. While using Cormant-CS to plan change is, pretty much, standard practice, not every customer uses the workflow engine. Workflow tasks help automate the planning process and allow for remote collaboration around the server, network, storage, infrastructure and facilities teams. By getting this right, down to the connections and even cables to use, some customers have been able to reduce the number of people that have to touch devices being deployed, reducing the potential infection risk to staff and the enterprise risk that is present if key personnel have to isolate and can’t work. It’s not just the deployment part that is easier with DCIM, directing smart hands, managing equipment receiving, knowing where equipment is and accessing it directly, is all much easier, and involves less physical interaction, when data is available on everyone’s smartphone and devices can be checked with just a barcode scan.

I’m proud of how Cormant-CS is keeping people safe, enterprises operational, and lowering the risk for both parties. One comment I received was, “I didn’t realize how much we relied on the data in Cormant DCIM until I had to work remotely, it’s been invaluable”.

If we can help you work better, please let me know. Cormant is fully operational, and with our remote deployment practices, we can get your data in a single repository quickly.

Stay Safe

Cormant DCIM Mobility Makes Asset Audits Work

In this blog post, Brad Beamish, Director of Consulting Services for Cormant, reviews why auditing is an essential part of a successful DCIM deployment.

The Equipment Validation Challenge

Cormant routinely manages DCIM deployments for customers where Cormant DCIM replaces an existing tool set for managing IT infrastructure.  In many cases, the current system (often spreadsheets and sometimes home-grown DB’s and other DCIM solutions) contains a partial record set of questionable accuracy.  Cormant works with customers to extract all usable data from the existing records. However, there will always be questions about the overall completeness and accuracy of the data.  When merging multiple data sources, floorplans and rack views, there are likely to be conflicts between the data sources and questions that only a physical visit to the rack can answer. This physical validation process takes effort but Cormant has refined unique online and offline mobility features over the past 17 years ensuring the validation can be completed quickly and accurately.

Asset Validation

Asset Validation should be an essential part of migrating data from customer data sources into a DCIM solution.  Existing records are usually partially accurate and provide a great starting place for DCIM deployments. However, the ultimate trust in the accuracy of the DCIM records can only be fully realized by physically validating every asset. The validation assures not only accurate asset data, but capacity data and, where required, power and data connectivity data.

Cormant Mobility Makes Validation Work

To audit the physical infrastructure, where possible Cormant leverages barcoded assets (most equipment has a barcode) with Cormant’s unique online and offline mobility. Cormant-CS supports the use of smartphones, tablets, and all-in-one Windows® and Android® barcode enabled mobile computers

Mobility gives the validation team complete freedom to physically stand in front of each rack and lookup or scan the barcode of each asset.  Once an asset is found, the user is presented with the existing data set for the asset.  Any physically observable data can be updated, things like RU location and Mounting Type.  Barcoded data can be easily scanned in if missing, like Serial Numbers or Asset tags. Newly found assets can be added using the same process.

Once the user updates and accepts the on-screen data, the asset’s Validation Date attribute is stamped with today’s date.   The screen is cleared, and the next asset is scanned, this is repeated until all assets have been scanned and validated. Key to this process is a one-touch per asset approach and once the data is verified or updated, it is available in the Cormant DCIM system with a record of who made the changes and when.

Once all racks are visited, the assets that still have no Validation Date stamped can be considered to be Missing Assets and moved to a holding space.

Cormant usually finds many new assets as part of this work, immediately improving the project’s ROI. The found rate varies, but is often in the 20 – 35% range, usually quite a surprise for the data center operator.

Validation Counters

To allow for easy tracking of the validation efforts, Asset Validation counters are configured at the Rack, Row and Site levels of the infrastructure and record;

  • Total Assets
  • Total Assets Unvalidated
  • Total Assets Validated

Rack totals are aggregated to the Row and then the Data Center to give an overall picture of the total assets and the total number of Validated/Unvalidated assets within the site.

Reporting

Validation count attributes are stored historically so that Project Managers and customers can track the progress of the validation process.  Historical reports detailing the Total Assets vs. the Total Assets Validated can offer insight to validation progress and the accuracy of the imported records set, clearly illustrating the number of assets that were missing and need to be added as part of the validation process.

In the example below, we started with 1,200 known assets and zero validated, but completed with a little over 1,600 assets, an approximate accuracy of initial data of 66%.

Conclusion

It is important to realize that a point in time audit is useless if the data are not kept up-to-date. Using a combination of Cormant workflow and the same mobility used in the audit, an ongoing change management process that captures future changes as they occur is simple to implement.

The crucial element provided by Cormant-CS is real-time access to all of the data, all of the time, for both read, update, and create. If a change is made, it is recorded at the same time. This provides a closed-loop change process and means users trust the Cormant-CS DCIM, which means it gets used. We look forward to discussing how we can help you migrate to Cormant-CS. Click here to be contacted.

DCIM Helping Managing Critical IT Infrastructure in the Current Pandemic

By: Paul Goodison (CEO)

I have been speaking to our global customers about the operational changes they have introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve also had the opportunity to hear a few analysts speak on best practices for data centre operations during this time.

The universal approach appears to be keeping as many staff as possible away from the site, working remotely and leveraging onsite smart hands when available. Where team members do have to attend site, managers are ensuring social distancing and maintaining the smallest number of people working in the raised floor space possible. From a hygiene perspective, either in-house or external cleaning services are being used to clean and protect work areas regularly, and at least every shift. There does not appear to be any consensus on what, if any, cleaning to conduct inside the data centre.

Our customers have told us how much help their DCIM solution has been during this disruption. It is enabling them to manage their data centres, co-location, and IOT sites while minimizing the need for physical access. One customer told us about automating what used to be a manual task of cycling power to a (dual-powered) server. This is usually a manual unplug process, as there are no trusted records of what PDU sockets a device is plugged in to. But with trusted, mobile captured connectivity records, devices outlets are cycled remotely from within DCIM, saving a person traveling to a site. Working to an incredibly tight deadline a healthcare trust who uses DCIM recently used Cormant-CS to manage the deployment of all the IT infrastructure to a new, pop-up, hospital that was constructed inside a convention centre. All the equipment deployment and data outlet connectivity were planned, tracked and deployed to ensure everything was going to work the first time.

We have also seen customers use more of their DCIM then they have before. While using Cormant-CS to plan change is, pretty much, standard practice, not every customer uses the workflow engine. Workflow tasks help automate the planning process and allow for remote collaboration around the server, network, storage, infrastructure and facilities teams. By getting this right, down to the connections and even cables to use, some customers have been able to reduce the number of people that have to touch devices being deployed, reducing the potential infection risk to staff and the enterprise risk that is present if key personnel have to isolate and can’t work. It’s not just the deployment part that is easier with DCIM, directing smart hands, managing equipment receiving, knowing where equipment is and accessing it directly, is all much easier, and involves less physical interaction, when data is available on everyone’s smartphone and devices can be checked with just a barcode scan.

I’m proud of how Cormant-CS is keeping people safe, enterprises operational, and lowering the risk for both parties. One comment I received was, “I didn’t realize how much we relied on the data in Cormant DCIM until I had to work remotely, it’s been invaluable”.

If we can help you work better, please let me know. Cormant is fully operational, and with our remote deployment practices, we can get your data in a single repository quickly.

Stay Safe

DCIM Made Easy – Case Study

DCIM Made Easy is the Topic of Conversation in the latest Cormant-CS Case Study Titled, “Small Team, Big Results”

Our newest Cormant case study titled “Small Team, Big Results”, is now available, showcasing the implementation and deployment process of Cormant-CS at an American-based global data analytics and risk management firm serving customers worldwide in insurance, energy, financial services and other specialized markets by providing data analytic insights to help make better more focused decisions that minimize risk and maximize value.

Cormant-CS was selected by the company after a thorough DCIM market evaluation and a key decision criteria was how straightforward and easy to use it was. The measured annual ROI for the project was approximately $70,000, including a saving of staff time estimated to be 1,300 hours per year.

As the customer project leader said, “Cormant-CS won’t solve the world’s problems but it certainly has solved our data center infrastructure management problem. This was DCIM made easy!” Gus, Data Center Manager.

 

Discover the Cormant Difference HERE

Cormant-CS Delivers Power Management Capabilities

The latest release of the Cormant-CS DCIM solution now includes additional out-of-the-box support for real time power and environmental queries.  With queried data available in Cormant-CS, users can configure reports, dashboards and alerts based on the desired threshold. 

Cormant includes support for the following PDU manufacturers: Server Technology, Geist, Raritan, Eaton, APC and Tripp Lite.  Cormant-CS queries power actual, in watts, for master and slave devices. Temperature and Humidity Values are also available if thermal probes are attached to the host PDU’s.

Cormant-CS comes preloaded with power actual aggregates to rack, row and data center levels to create a full picture of the power consumption.

 

 

 

 

Power aggregations can be used to calculate data center metrics such as PUE.  These values are stored historically for reporting and trending purposes.

 

 

 

 

Additional refinements to the out of box query offering are available to support additional data such a phase balancing, amperage and other user defined data points.  These refinements are based on the customer’s specific requirements, such as color-coded alerts and user specific dashboard widgets.

 

You can learn more at: www.cormant.com

Cormant-CS Announces Monthly Webinars

Spreadsheets to DCIM in 20 Minutes, is the first in a series of live, web based information sessions presented by Cormant Inc., the developers of Cormant-CS. This information session reviews how customers can get instant value from their existing spreadsheet records by importing these records into Cormant-CS. This session covers topics such as:

Reviewing typical spreadsheet records
Examining the normalization process
Performing asset data imports into Cormant-CS
Adding the imported racks to the plan in Cormant-CS
Creating user defined reports
Visualization of data on Dashboards
These sessions are limited to 20 attendees. To receive an invitation, please contact our Corporate Sales and Marketing department at sales@cormant.biz or enter your request to attend the next monthly webinar on our Contact Us feature.

A View from Data Center Worlds – USA and UK

A View from Data Center Worlds – USA and UK

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In March various members of the Cormant team presented Cormant DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) at Data Center World San Antonio, TX, USA and Data Center World London, UK. Over two days at each event we met, literally, hundreds of people and had some great conversations. The DCIM (and beyond) interest at both shows was greater than we have previously seen, and in many cases those conversations were with people who already knew why they want DCIM. This is certainly a change from a few years ago and perhaps in part a reflection on the market maturity we are starting to see. I’d like to think the Cormant team did a great job explaining why Cormant-CS provides the best solution to customers. Cormant-CS provides a complete feature set in an easy to use web and mobile based system supported by full consulting, implementation services and training. Cormant boasts satisfied customers from 2003 who still maintain and regularly upgrade their Cormant-CS system. I think this is pretty remarkable, given how many “DCIM” solutions have come and gone in that time.

We do still get the question, “Why do I need DCIM when my team is managing our current data centers with spreadsheets?” This is best summed up by a large company I spoke to at one of the shows who admitted they recently did an audit of their racked equipment and equipment in storage and found 18% of the equipment they audited was not in use or had never been used. The equipment found was either not powered, had no live data connection, had crashed long ago, or was not being used as the applications had been migrated off the machine. In some cases the servers were still brand new, in-box, in a store room but were now a generation or two behind what they use. I did tell this company they were far from alone and in over 15 years we have yet to find more than two or three companies who stated their data was almost perfect and actually had no significant data issues when an audit was done. Cormant advises that the initial DCIM implementation goal is to get current data into the Cormant-CS solution and at the same time put processes in place to drive DCIM use and increase data accuracy over time. Adoption is often easy as people actually want a system they can get value from (rarely the case with spreadsheets). Providing useful data to management and other teams is typically what drives expanded use and further rollout.

Thanks to everyone who talked to us at the events, we really appreciated the conversations. We are looking forward to catching up with the many new contacts we made in the coming weeks.

Paul Goodison

April 2018

 

Click to see additional photos of the Cormant booth from the USA and UK shows!

What I Have Come to Understand About DCIM

What I Have Come to Understand About DCIM

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A personal note from Steve Allegretti.

2017 was another learning year for me in the world of DCIM.   All of the private companies I spoke with last year had the same basic challenges of:

  • Optimizing Asset Management
  • Efficiently Monitoring Power and Environmental Factors
  • Creating Relevant Alerts
  • Change Management Best Practices
  • Streamlining Report Functionality

Companies overall goals were the reduction of risk and cost. Of course, each company has their own unique requirements as well, on the data elements they want to store and the reporting they want to define. Lack of budget, deployment concerns and not enough ROI is what generally holds companies back from taking advantage of DCIM’s benefits.

Companies that did elect to purchase the Cormant solution in 2017 were able to not only meet the above challenges but were able to go above and beyond their expectations with our solution. We offer proven customized implementation services for a smooth deployment.  We even had a customer that did their own implementation, showcasing the conclusion that the Cormant solution is really that easy for an end user.

The Cormant-CS DCIM solution is also highly configurable, capable of delivering numerous benefits and value when managing IT and facility assets as well as layer 1 connectivity. The streamlined interface allows for minimal training – though recommended – and requires no vendor assistance for upgrade.  With all features being point and click, the Cormant-CS DCIM solution has proven #1 in the industry for 2017. I can’t wait to dive into 2018.

Happy New Year!

How User Friendly Is Cormant-CS, Really?

How User Friendly Is Cormant-CS, Really?

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As a newby to the DCIM industry and a recent onboard as a Cormant Software Solutions Consultant, I am honored to have the opportunity to share my experience learning and applying the Cormant-CS software solution to my first project à Document the Cormant HQ Office in San Luis Obispo, CA using the Cormant-CS software solution with approximately 14 days of experience under my belt.

Now, I believe I weigh heavy on the analytical side and have a keen ability to utilize my resources efficiently when tasked with a complex project in a professionally unchartered industry. With a busy Q4 wrapping up, I was introduced to the Cormant-CS Web and Client via the robust User and Admin/Config Training Manuals, given login credentials and a go-ahead to get started!

Let’s first step back and understand the limited level of my experience and knowledge in the DCIM industry and how I was able to balance that with my extensive experience in SaaS, technical sales, software applications training, complex implementation planning, functional engagement and end user documentation.  By further operating with a methodical mind and a process oriented approach, I was able to piece together the puzzle of unknowns and could “phone a friend” when needing a resource. I analyzed samples of the Cormant-CS Client and Web to build my custom asset tree on the Cormant-CS Web and started my DCIM journey of documenting IT infrastructure, learning how to create a hierarchy of organization, learning to identify unknown components by being proactive and curious, and understanding what devices can be connected to what, many learned through well versed error message pop ups in the programs workflow.  The Client facing side of the software program allowed me to master template creation feature, easily adding subcomponents and building attributes to customize the available options for completing my project, though much of the Cormant-CS Client has now moved to the Web.  The latest version release, v9.1 has almost removed the desktop client entirely.

I’ll admit I ran into many challenges yet the Cormant-CS software is streamlined in such a way that a new user can easily follow the bouncing ball to understand the processes involved in making the necessary, methodical changes to continue the documentation and organizational process. I used a mix of the handheld device, the web and desktop client application, to fully document the Cormant office.  The handheld made tracking the inventory of racks, switches, patch panels, servers and other office components simple through the rich mobile application and barcode reading feature.  I wrapped up the project with a lesson on connections, making cable and power connections not only within the web application but also via the handheld with ease and fulfilling short cuts.

I was also able to configure reports on the CS Web to determine which assets/components were missing barcodes to better complete and log my asset tree. The handheld device was a fluid mirror of what I saw on the CS Web platform and the convenience and security of having that device in my “data center” was second to none.

In short, this was not only a DCIM exercise but also demonstrated how Cormant-CS is able to work in campus type environments to document office and multiple building campus environments.

I further was able to intuitively created new user profiles and permissions on the Admin side and custom tailor my landing page at login, which I found very handy.

In conclusion, the software suite is extremely user friendly and intuitive.  The UI is simple and feature rich with the training manuals and coordinating exercises being very educational to a new user who is onboarding with the Cormant-CS software solution.  As a result, I was able to document the entire office IT infrastructure using practical application to not only manage the configuration but also document at such detail that any new future change needed could be easily tracked, recorded and updated with ease. If you look closely, you will find that I was able to document the office components and related connections all the way down to a Christmas cookie tin in the lobby area.  For the record, they are shortbread.

By: Irina Astrom

Software Solutions Consultant, Cormant

Cormant Delivers DCOI Metrics Capability to Enable Federal Data Centers to Quickly Meet Compliance Goals

Cormant Delivers DCOI Metrics Capability to Enable Federal Data Centers to Quickly Meet Compliance Goals

Delivering DCOI Capture, Reporting and Auditing capability within Cormant-CS, provides Government Data Centers a complete, cost effective solution to drive compliance and manage data center efficiency.

San Luis Obispo, California, USA, March 15th, 2017 – Cormant Inc., a pure-play developer of complete, easy-to-use data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software, today announces that it is the first DCIM solution to offer a full suite of DCOI metrics, including dashboards and reports, as part of its standard DCIM solution. The 2016 Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) from the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandates that all data centers under the control of federal government agencies optimize existing facilities and report on their progress with a goal of late 2018 for compliance. The US Government DCOI Implementation program lists five key optimization metrics to be reported on by federally-controlled data centers and summarized at an agency level. At Cormant 15 years of experience demonstrates that no two data centers are exactly alike, so Cormant delivers its suite of DCOI metrics as part of its open, configurable DCIM solution. This means that each data center can rapidly deploy DCIM and refine the metrics captured as instrumentation is added or additional data captured.

“Cormant uses its proven implementation methodology to work with customers to deploy the Cormant-CS DCIM solution, quickly and cost effectively”, said Brad Beamish, Director, Professional Services for Cormant. Brad added, “Cormant’s unique configuration capabilities deliver DCOI metrics rapidly and accommodate a wide range of data center types while still providing data that is accurate, actionable and auditable.”

Cormant provides a full set of DCOI data points at the server, rack, data center and agency level, along with historical data capture, reporting, dashboards and network queries. The Cormant-CS DCOI package includes a set of goals that are used to track progress against the current federal standards. DCOI metrics are delivered using Cormant’s unique configuration ability, meaning if the metrics or goals set by the government change, adjusting to the new metrics will be quick and will not require additional software updates from Cormant.

The Cormant-CS DCOI solution is:

  • Delivered as part of the core solution with no additional modules to purchase. This includes data elements, calculations and roll up, reporting and dashboard widgets.
  • An open and flexible delivery of all metrics, allowing configuration to support a wide range of data center instrumentation maturity levels and track progress showing progress towards the mandated goals.
  • Backed up and supported by the Cormant implementation and consulting teams and strong data migration capability, to ensure each data center is up-and-running with Cormant DCIM in weeks not months.

“At Cormant we know DCIM needs to be quick to deploy, intuitive to use and provide a strong ROI”. explains Paul Goodison, Chief Executive Officer at Cormant. “By providing the DCOI metrics as part of the core solution, we can encourage adoption and provide excellent value to the federal government.” added Goodison.