Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)

What is Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)?

Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) refers to the processes, guidelines, tools, and methodologies used for the provisioning, governance, and overall management of data center assets and infrastructures. It provides a comprehensive approach to operating and maintaining an enterprise-class data center and encompasses IT resources like hardware, software, networks, and facilities, including power, cooling, lighting, and overall physical infrastructure.[1]

Functions of Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)[2]

DCIM bridges information across organizational silos, including Data Center Operations, Facilities, and IT teams to maximize utilization of the entire data center white space. An organization needs ITSM and BMS, but DCIM is the solution that completes the toolkit to have the visibility and information you need to properly plan and deploy equipment for data center projects to support business/IT services. Simply put, data center management is not complete without a DCIM tool.


  • Manages physical data center infrastructure assets, relationships, and capacity:
    • Locations of racks, servers, network, storage, and blades
    • Utilization and capacity of resources to support equipment, e.g. power, space, and cooling
    • Physical relationships and connectivity between equipment, down to the port level
    • Monitors, trends, and alarms on equipment and resources supporting mission-critical facility
  • Automates visual documentation (e.g. rack elevations) by providing full 3D specifications of assets with high-fidelity front and back images, exact U position, and dimensional, weight, and data and power port information
  • Tracks workflow within the data center for physical asset moves, adds, and changes of server/network equipment
  • Tracks and monitors environmental conditions, energy efficiency, availability, and use of key resources (space, power, cooling, and network/power connections)

DCIM Components

Basic DCIM components and functions include:

  • A Single Repository: One accurate, authoritative database to house all data from across all data centers and sites of all physical assets, including data center layout, with detailed data for IT, power, and HVAC equipment and end-to-end network and power cable connections.
  • Asset Discovery and Asset Tracking: Tools to capture assets, their details, relationships, and interdependencies.
  • Visualization: Graphical visualization, tracking, and management of all data center assets and their related physical and logical attributes – servers, structured cable plants, networks, power infrastructure, and cooling equipment.
  • Provisioning New Equipment: Automated tools to support the prompt and reliable deployment of new systems and all their related physical and logical resources.
  • Real-Time Data Collection: Integration with real-time monitoring systems to collect actual power usage/environmental data to optimize capacity management, allowing review of real-time data vs. assumptions around nameplate data.
  • Process-Driven Structure: Change management workflow procedures to ensure complete and accurate adds, changes, and moves.
  • Capacity Planning: Capacity planning tools to determine requirements for future floor and rack space, power, cooling expansion, what-if analysis, and modeling.
  • Reporting: Simplified reporting to set operational goals, measure performance, and drive improvement.
  • A Holistic Approach: Bridge across organizational domains – facilities, networking, and systems, filling all functional gaps; used by all data center dom

How DCIM Tools Work in Action[3]

Data center infrastructure management strategies vary widely and are directly tied to the data center in question. Considering all the variables at play such as the size of the data center, the equipment being used, the age of the equipment, and the requirements of the business, it is impractical to make generalizations that apply to all data centers. Looking at the following hypothetical examples can better illustrate how the process works:

  • If a company wants to create records of all its data center IT assets, including both the technical aspects (programs being run) and financial aspects (serial numbers), it should use strategies to analyze how the overall assets affect and relate to one another, and whether this benefits or obstructs business goals.
  • Another strategy involves using real-time monitoring and predictive analysis to allow data center technicians to spot problems before they occur, and then shift resources proactively in order to avoid interruptions. This approach also empowers technicians to increase resource utilization and maximize efficiency.
  • Environmental controls are crucial for the health of servers. DCIM tools can be used to integrate data regarding server performance and environmental conditions to create reports and models that reveal the health of the entire infrastructure and each of the constituent pieces. This allows technicians to head off potentially catastrophic failures and make minor tweaks to improve overall performance.

Advantages of Data Center Infrastructure Management

DCIM provides the following advantages:

  • Access to accurate, actionable data generated during data center operations.
  • Stay informed about changes to program standards.
  • Facilitate asset management.
  • Effective forecasting and planning for space, power, and cooling capacity.
  • Efficiently understand the operational status of power and cooling infrastructure and environment, improving overall data center availability. *Reduce operating costs by improving energy efficiency

See Also