Pimp my datacenter: Rackwise DCM

The Rackwise Data Center Manager provides an all-seeing, planner's-eye view of your datacenter

Rackwise Data Center Manager (DCM), from Visual Network Design, arrived a little late to our HIG 319 build-out. Generally, a datacenter project would have made use of the Rackwise product from the very start of the planning process. But better late than never -- the DCM software arrived in the nick of time to help us with our sudden weight limitation issue.

Similar to APC’s Change Manager and Capacity Manager combo, Rackwise DCM serves as a complete software representation of your datacenter. That includes not just floor plans, rack diagrams, and basic server specs, but the real, exact server specs customized to the precise configuration of the servers in your racks. So where APC's software might represent a Dell PowerEdge 1650 server in terms of a standard config and its basic power requirements, the Rackwise database can be customized to include exact RAM, CPU, and hard disk specs. The number of hard disks in our servers, for example, proved to be a pesky little detail that mattered when we were trying to determine whether HIG 319's 50-year-old floor could support the weight of several dozen servers.

[ Return to the "Pimp my datacenter" intro for the background on our datacenter makeover and links to more cool and cutting-edge datacenter gear. Read about our project's hurdles, and tips for avoiding them, in "Five lessons of a datacenter overhaul." ]

You can also use the Rackwise database to build configuration documentation and do what-if analysis. As of DCM Version 3.0, that includes power and cooling considerations, turning the Rackwise interface into an endless what-if sandbox for datacenters that endure numerous reconfigurations. That same information can be used for long-term trend reporting, for which DCM has a pile of canned reporting capability.

Another useful Rackwise tool is the change report. typically given to a tech. This punch list is a step-by-step instruction sheet that walks the tech through various upgrade and maintenance tasks, providing both positive guidance (such as which slot to use) and instructions for staying out of trouble (for heaven’s sake, don’t pull the left power supply cord before you install the right side redundant power supply). With a check-in/check-out facility similar to what you’d find in a trouble ticket system, Rackwise also helps you keep track of changes as they happen in your datacenter.

What it’s not, however, is a live management interface. A Visual Network Design rep said the company might look in that direction at some future date, but for now this is purely a configuration, asset management, and datacenter modeling and analysis tool; and what it does it does very well. A basic Rackwise license kit goes for $38,800 with variations on negotiation. 

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