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Is DCIM the Norma Desmond of Management Software?

I love old movies, and one of my favorites is Sunset Boulevard. Gloria Swanson plays Norma Desmond, a silent movie star whose brief period of fame went the way of the dinosaur with the on-set of “talkies”. Let me briefly summarize, after her career hits the skids she holes up in this huge gothic mansion with Erich Von Stroheim, a monkey and ultimately, William Holden. All of them help maintain her delusion of stardom and aid her in an effort to make a comeback. Let’s just say this all doesn’t end well. I was reminded of this 1950 classic after reading an article in DCK that asserted the law practice management software May Be Superseded Before it Gains Mass Acceptance.

Since 2010, DCIM has spent an inordinate amount of time in the data center industry spotlight. Its potential seemed to be limitless. The ability to manage your facility with a greater degree of precision and functionality than could be delivered by a standard BMS was an attractive proposition, but it’s positioning as the link to SDN and SDDC was what really got everybody enthused. Unfortunately, DCIM quickly began to look like the celebrated rookie who might never be able to hit the curve. Some of the initial product offerings got the whole “under promise and over deliver thing” backwards, sales cycles tended to last longer than the Bronze Age, and a lack of consensus on what the actual definition of DCIM was heralded a less than auspicious debut.

In the spirit of Norma, however, the DCIM people have soldiered on, or as the article states, “DCIM may not have hit its stride yet, but suppliers have learned from previous mistakes and are developing more robust, and, crucially, user friendly products”. Unfortunately, these efforts may be too little too late. Kind of like combating movies with sound by making the on-screen dialogue cards bigger. Sensing that blood may, perhaps, be in the water, industry analysts have recently downgraded revenue projections and turned their eyes toward a new potential rising star in the form of Datacenter Management as a Service (DMaaS) that enables mechanical and electrical equipment to be controlled remotely. The article does point out that enterprise data centers have always been the most resistant to DCIM’s charms, but since their role is being increasingly subsumed by colocation and cloud data centers (who are more receptive to the technology), DCIM may be able to back its way into market share. Hey, it’s something.

The world moves fast. Sometimes, things that look really good at first turn out to be not good enough. People loved silent movies, but they liked them better when they could hear the actors talk. While folks never have universally embraced DCIM, they liked the idea of it. It’s hard to say what the future holds for DCIM, Norma never gave up hope of returning to the silver screen. Of course, she wound up shooting William Holden in the back and, psychologically broken, she descended down a staircase to a gaggle of news cameras, declaring “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille”. I suspect that whatever DCIM’s ultimate fate is, it will be a little less dramatic.