What is DCIM?

Although deployment rates are increasing, in much of the user community, there is still confusion about what DCIM is and what it can do.

In general, DCIM is a software suite for managing data center infrastructure and the resources it uses. DCIM tools collect data from IT and facilities, consolidate it into relevant information and report it in real time to enable intelligent management, optimization and future planning of data center resources such as capacity, power, cooling, space, network and assets.

Suppliers may incorporate all, most, or only some of the following categories that fall within this definition:

Energy and Environmental Monitoring

Asset and Workflow Management

Data Center Visualization

Capacity planning and what-if scenarios

Structured Cable Management

Network management and optimization

Centralized and remote monitoring

Incident reporting and management

AI and Machine Learning (ML) Optimization

Before deploying a DCIM tool,you are recommend to do the following:

Determine which aspects of the operation will benefit most from improved information. Limit yourself to one or two areas; more than three is probably overreaching. Trying to do too much at once is most likely to result in product dissatisfaction and failure.

Focus on products that tout these capabilities and features. Get two or three trials that best suit your needs. See if they are easy to deploy and, more importantly, intuitive to use.

Talk to existing customers to get first-hand feedback about their experience. This will also help understand what you need to be successful.

If you plan for broader future needs, consider a modular, scalable product. Make sure it integrates well with the resources you already have. Add features only when you have learned to maximize the value of your existing products. This may mean adding features to your initial product or purchasing another product to better achieve those goals.

Make sure you can allocate staff resources to deploy and maintain the product you choose. Also, make sure you have the budget for custom or managed monitoring. DCIM products are essentially database management systems. They can be configured to automate many tasks, but often require manual data entry to keep them up to date.

Review the supplier training program. Is this a one-time or ongoing program? What is the incremental cost?

Thoroughly evaluate what’s required to ensure an acceptable ROI on your DCIM project investment.

Finally, security is critical to all of these products, but simply limiting to one-way communication may be an oversimplified approach. The power usage and temperature of your data center may be useless to an attacker, but obtaining IP addresses, DNS information, and network paths of routers may be a gold mine for them. The security requirements of each enterprise may be different. Look carefully, especially for cloud-based services.

The six DCIM products listed below (in alphabetical order) all align well with market drivers and offer real benefits in terms of improved reliability and reduced operating costs.

1. Cormant-CS

Cormant-CS is one of the original DCIM products that was acquired by Global Integrated Solutions BGIS in February 2021. This large privately held facility management vendor is based in Canada and covers a wide range of data center operations in its managed services portfolio.

Cormant-CS provides full 100% network query and discovery, with automatic multi-network interface card (NIC) association, update and linking. It also documents the complete power chain from generator to uninterruptible power supply to distribution unit. Cormant has developed six additional API-to-API interfaces, all with a point-and-click UI to support deeply integrated extract, transform and load (ETL) services. This fully integrates Cormant-CS into the enterprise environment. Cormant has rewritten the UI to better take advantage of larger screen sizes, including smartphones, and can now link dual- and triple-panel data.

The asset module also features tightly integrated search capabilities that interactively filter floor plans, racks, and data based on search criteria in real time. In addition, 100% offline mobile support is provided for Android devices to access all DCIM data from locations where 4G and Wi-Fi are not available. WAN deployments now have 400% faster load times. Security includes end-to-end encryption – audited by military top secret and financial institutions.

Cormant-CS’s new start page provides a graphical Health Card that provides a view of rack and equipment and site conditions based on user-defined key points. Data correlation views and analysis enable users to see detailed changes in the environment and the reasons for these changes.

Cormant-CS’s document library (called Albums) can be linked to any building, floor, room, rack or equipment port to automatically link events such as alarms to the correct process. Cloud services such as AWS are integrated to monitor current and historical usage, and modern RESTful APIs support high-volume bidirectional integration.

The Cormant-CS tool now provides a 3D view of assets both outside and inside the data center. When you view reports, history, connections, or alarms, data cross-links and built-in hyperlinks give you quick access to more information. The new Workflow Execution module is now tightly integrated with the Assets module, making it faster and easier to complete workflow tasks.

Cormant continues to support smaller enterprise data centers, but with the acquisition of BGIS, they have expanded their support for larger facilities. The hosting operator now has integrated power logging for tracking, computing analysis, and customer billing. Now, with the service separated, the system can be scaled and operated on more server instances for a large number of customers around the world.

Cormant also offers a set of migration tools to support Trellis users now that Vertiv has discontinued its DCIM platform.

2. EkkoSense

UK-based EkkoSense launched a product in 2017 based on more than four years of research into how artificial intelligence can make useful interpretations of reams of data from data center power and cooling systems.

EkkoSense describes its product as building on traditional monitoring and alerting platforms, optimizing them using AI and ML, and providing comprehensive monitoring and assessment capabilities management capabilities. EkkoSense believes that AI and ML are the next frontier in data center operations because the technology to address these challenges in a practical way has finally arrived.

EkkoSense wireless sensors can be fixed to cabinets and placed in cooling units. Alternatively, existing sensors can be accessed and supplemented by EkkoSense wireless sensors when necessary. All data points are sampled every five minutes, and the AL and ML engines analyze the impact of changes. The result is a dynamic map of Zones of Influence – in other words, which cooling units provide the most cooling for each cabinet and how they perform.

Based on this data, along with integrated asset management details, total rack power data and other room measurements, the software provides a graphical illustration of how the room’s cooling is operating. It also displays power usage versus available power for each cabinet, then provides specific instructions for optimally tuning the cooling system.

Since cooling is the largest energy user in a data center after the IT equipment (ITE) itself, cooling is the primary focus of the targeted software. Based on measurements across multiple installations, EkkoSense says it has achieved an average 30% reduction in actual cooling energy and freed up up to 60% of idle cooling capacity.


FNT is a software company that for years has supported web-based tools and a management platform for virtual, cloud and hybrid digital infrastructures, now commonly referred to as second-generation DCIM. FNT focuses on six areas: asset and connectivity management, structured cable management, workflow, capacity planning and reporting, and discovery and monitoring.

The vendor believes that DCIM should be deployed in small steps and enhanced incrementally to achieve a successful deployment. As a result, upgrades continually enhance the ability to record IT equipment across the enterprise, on-premises to edge and hosted environments and even telco networks. The latest improvements make it easier for enterprises to adjust the tool to all user requirements without customization.

FNT’s focus is on ease of use for real-life, everyday tasks, and its design is specifically targeted at those who do not need to use the tools on a daily basis. Essentially, its Point Solution installation package hides the underlying technical aspects to better align product terminology with customer naming conventions. Its carefully designed data model is easily adaptable to customer needs. Planning and what-if scenarios are one of the most important aspects of the FNT toolkit. FNT’s commitment to open system design includes an extensive API call library, graphical interface editing, and an internal bus system that enables third-party products to easily subscribe to the channel.

The platform works well on mobile devices, which is important because it enables users to bring all functionality and information to the field, further optimizing processes and speeding up audits. Specifically, it combines RESTful APIs with its Simple Object Access Protocol API for contemporary real-time integration projects and ETL tools with graphical modeling for high-volume data synchronization. Its preferred partner for creating electrical and mechanical online diagrams, tracking load and phase balance, and warning of potential equipment failures is ABB.

FNT’s drag-and-drop graphics capabilities from Visio or AutoCAD drawings utilize a layer concept to more accurately document rooms with or without raised floors. Alternative capabilities based on a GIS engine support complete campus maps and complex external plant cable route displays. FNT has restructured its 3D models and upgraded them to the latest 3D framework technology. In addition, FNT can integrate with 6SigmaDCX computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to perform extended thermal analysis of room designs.

FNT is particularly good in the area of cable management and connectivity management. This covers all aspects of structured cabling and patching in the data center, across the campus network, between data centers, and in network routing to edge sites.

FNT’s default licensing method is concurrent user, which enables large customers to share licenses across time zones and/or add racks without acquiring additional licenses. A per-rack alternative is also available.

4. Nlyte

Nlyte, which was acquired by Carrier Corporation in October 2021, also integrated the Automation Logic WebCTRL building automation system for data centers into its DCIM. We reached out to Nlyte for more information on recent updates to its DCIM software, but unfortunately did not hear back from them before the publication of this article.

5. Schneider Electric EcoStruxure IT

Schneider Electric’s DCIM offering, formerly known as StruxureWare DCIM and now called EcoStruxure IT, is available in two main packages:

Monitoring and management are provided through cloud-based EcoStruxure IT Expert or local Data Center Expert software. These services can provide physical security and monitoring through Schneider’s proprietary NetBotz devices and sensors, but they are also compatible with other protocols, such as Simple Network Management Protocol and Modbus TCP. The tool is completely vendor-agnostic and integrates third-party and legacy systems seamlessly. It is not a network optimization tool, but it monitors the connectivity of discovered devices. IT Expert is based on the Microsoft Azure cloud and provides extensive AI analysis and mobile access through any mobile phone or Android device. These include predictions of time before battery replacement; security analysis, such as expired security certificates; update status; and whether standard usernames and passwords are still present. EcoStruxure can also track vulnerabilities related to protocols and current malware, alert to outdated firmware in monitored devices, and can optionally push updates through a secure IT gateway.

The second part of Schneider’s DCIM offering is EcoStruxure IT Advisor, a vendor-neutral and highly scalable monitoring, planning, modeling, and troubleshooting component. IT Advisor provides inventory management, capacity planning, power path management, network cooling and airflow modeling, workflows, and reporting. It is also available for on-premises purchase or as a cloud-based SaaS maintained by Schneider. The application supports modeling and planning at the rack and device level, representing all devices through a genomic database. EcoStruxure IT Advisor can be integrated with IT service management tools such as ServiceNow.

IT Expert combined with IT Advisor provides automated asset discovery, anytime, anywhere visibility, smart alerts, and AI-driven load balancing assistance.

For customers who require third-party monitoring and/or maintenance, Schneider offers a cloud-based service: EcoStruxure Asset Advisor, which is available in two service levels. Prevent includes 24/7 remote monitoring services, alarm notifications and investigation support, real-time data provided via mobile applications, and monthly event and status reports. In addition to the services provided by Prevent, Predict also includes data-driven expert insights, cybersecurity assessments, battery health, and semi-annual reports. An Excel importer is used to create rack heights from database assets, which can be automatically tracked using barcode scanning or RFID tags if auxiliary equipment is included. This enables IT Advisor to track assets from order placement to delivery and perform work order generation, as well as installation and change logging. Room plans and rack elevations can be created from the library with drag and drop, automatically created when the asset database is created, or imported as layers from AutoCAD. Visio does not support the scaling accuracy of EcoStruxure and is therefore incompatible.

A separate cloud-based data center CFD tool is unique to EcoStruxure. Schneider Electric and/or partners can use this CFD design software to assist customers, providing them with input during the design phase to ensure adequate cooling and improve energy efficiency. Cooling simulations can also be done based on years of data collection that provides 90% accurate 3D thermal maps without the need for sensors or CFD modeling.

6. Sunbird

Sunbird claims it is managing more than 1.3 million data center cabinets for seven of the 10 largest technology companies. Its universal bidirectional connector enables asset and ticket information to be shared between systems and now includes templates for syncing with ServiceNow, Jira, Cherwell, and BMC. Sunbird’s dcTrack has enhanced security and scalability to support up to 300,000 cabinets and can now run natively on AWS. Sunbird’s data-driven collaboration can now also display and share dashboard widgets on any browser, SharePoint, or wiki page.

Its automation through an integrated approach provides day-to-day asset management and planning. Policy-based intelligence in dcTrack compiles and analyzes large amounts of data about device power consumption, minimizing idle power capacity by calculating the optimal budget value for each deployed computing device. Zero-configuration analytics reduces the time to create management reports, providing automatic creation and distribution of all dashboard information.

Power IQ now also offers enhanced electronic door lock management capabilities and support for vibration, motion and proximity sensors in data centers and edge sites, all with single sign-on. Sunbird’s power chain support also includes DC monitoring, covering everything from power plants and battery banks to fuses and alarm panels. Expanded asset tracking includes infrastructure subcomponents such as disk drives, memory sticks and NICs, and covers these items in alerts when inventory levels fall below defined thresholds.

Sunbird’s service and support includes free weekly training, a modern support portal and full service. The augmented reality view includes measurement data, which many find more useful than actually being on site, an important feature when remote access becomes so necessary.

Sunbird also strives to simplify its GUI by minimizing the number of clicks required for common tasks.