Haven’t we all been misunderstood at one time or another? Like that time you told a joke in your boss’ staff meeting that you thought was hilarious and everyone just gave you that “look”, or that girl in high school who got mad at you for “looking at other women” when you were just trying to get the attention of the girl two tables over to see if she had any ketchup—I think most of us can relate to these. Most of the time, the consequences of being misunderstood aren’t terribly devastating or difficult to repair—you explained that you’d heard the joke from the guy in the next cube, and you broke up with that girl because she was obviously way too possessive—but sometimes the effects of misunderstanding can linger longer than we’d like. Apparently this is the case with DCIM.

Personally I’m a big fan of DCIM. Anything that helps bring order to the chaos that still characterizes many of today’s data centers is A-OK in my book, but I guess it’s difficult for folks to understand your value add proposition when they really don’t get what value you add. I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that most DCIM offerings tended to overwhelm their target audiences with all that they could do. Isn’t this really a pretty common problem? For example, the phone on your desk probably has a number of buttons and functions but you only use three or four on a regular basis so by the time you actually need to use one of them to do that 3-way conference call with voicemail back-up, you’ve long since lost the user’s manual. The DCIM folks probably would have been better off concentrating on just a few basic features and then introducing additional functionality on a more gradual basis so that users could absorb things incrementally. This is the same strategy that those late night infomercials use. You don’t introduce the julienne waffle fries attachment until everyone understands the basic functionality like slicing and dicing.

Despite this prolonged period of misunderstanding, things appear to be looking up for the purveyors of DCIM applications. In a recent assessment of the DCIM industry, Gartner noted that customers understand DCIM better today than they did a year ago. What this means in actuality is anyone’s guess since I don’t think any standardized testing was involved, but when you’ve been “the next big thing” longer than Justin Beiber, any news is good news. Certainly this new level of understanding is a net positive. Things just always seem to go better when everyone is on the same page. Now this uptick in understanding doesn’t mean everyone is going to be asking Santa for a DCIM solution this coming Christmas season since Gartner also noted that the cost of DCIM products and their ease of deployment are still impediments to more rapid adoption and implementation. But it looks like the DCIM folks are willing to swallow the elephant one bite at a time for the foreseeable future.

I think the experience of DCIM providers should be a lesson for all of us. Ensuring that customers actually understand what you do is the first step toward success since market misunderstandings aren’t as easy to deal with as insecure girlfriends.

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