Before delving into the subject of the title, let’s take a few minutes to look at how we got here.

Nowadays, everything seems to be “as a Service”; indeed, there is such a term, covered by the acronym “XaaS” (pronounced: anything-and-everything-under-the-sun-can-be-provided-as-a-service https://www.techopedia.com/definition/14027/anything-as-a-service-xaas).

We live in a s society where a service-oriented architecture (SOA) is now quite firmly in place. It has been a few decades that this was looming upon us:

“The employment structure in Europe changed fundamentally after the 1970s. The era of the industrial society approached its end as industrial labor, no longer the most common occupation, faced persistent decline. Industrial productivity increased so rapidly that production climbed even as employment simultaneously dropped. Europe became a service-oriented society”

A Social History of Europe, 1945-2000 by Hartmut Kaelble
https://books.google.ca/books?id=LrCtCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51

Over time, it made business sense to concentrate on core competences and industry, while outsourcing tasks and processes that required too much effort to take on internally. Those of us old enough to have lived the frenzy of the 80s and 90s, have observed that there was a real need to offload what was seen as internal inefficiencies. Without going too deep into the problems with that approach, most of the issues were caused by the fact that companies were actually relinquishing control on the outsourced tasks and therefore losing sight of what impact it would have on their bottom line and/or corporate image.

The outsourcing tactics (we are talking here about “digital” outsourcing as opposed to manufacturing) took a dive around the turn of the millennium, but the underlying need was still clear and present.

Enter the Cloud

With the strengthening of internet technologies and infrastructure, pioneers like Salesforce (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/salesforce-continues-to-pioneer-the-cloud-model-2015-08-20) started offering Software as a Service in the early 2000s. Since then, the situation has evolved into an array of offerings including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Monitoring as a Service (MaaS), etc.

The Just-in-Time management philosophy that started in Japan with Toyota in the 1970s (the 70s again, coincidence? We think not, something was in the air…) has also put pressure on companies, forcing them to become more agile, leaner and more responsive to market demands. The technologies and infrastructure to support that pace and responsiveness are not, however, that easy to deploy and they take time with all that hardware and software to implement and configure and people to train in order to support it all.

From the thirty thousand feet view taken above, let us drop to our ground zero: the data center.

In a previous post, we discussed DCIM implementation. We know how difficult it is to justify such a project. Acquiring the proper software platform is (relatively) expensive but even more so to implement it. A lot of work is underestimated. Issues with the integration of the enterprise own processes pop up unexpectedly and many insights are actually gained DURING the implementation, which sometimes require the stopping or slowing down of the project while the strategy is reassessed. Hence the frustration… and the fear to embark on such ventures.

Nevertheless, just going through the exercise of appraising what is needed and how to do it has high value. Akin to a brain surgeon that trains for the upcoming operation on a corpse (what a morbid metaphor!) or, as in modern times, on computer models, maybe there is a more suitable way to go about this, to better prepare for the struggle ahead.

Having access to a ready-to-go DCIM environment, supported by trained personnel can accelerate the process without major up-front costs. It creates a playground, a model testing facility where ideas are established and verified. This is different from the usual sandboxes set up for pre-production. DCIM as a Service fast-tracks the job by allowing the project to hit the ground running. No time spent on acquiring software and hardware and to find a place for them.

If a decision is reached afterwards to purchase the same software platform to use internally, then the useful data can be transferred to a production environment and the service itself can be easily dropped if so desired or kept as a sandbox environment. On the other hand, if limitations are found or necessary features are lacking, the work done still has brought out valuable understanding which can be carried on into the next DCIM solution. This way, one is not forced to stick with an unfit solution where a major financial investment makes it too hard to get out of.

A platform ready to be accessed, expert support available, just-in-time philosophy: DCIM as a Service is arguably a tool for the agile enterprise.