A good DCIM, the all-seeing eye of LCL

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LCL has relatively large data centers at 3 locations. For data centers of this scale, good management of the infrastructure is crucial for reliable, smooth and organized operation. We use sophisticated software for DCIM, developed specifically for LCL. This includes our exact floor plans and the electrical diagrams for each data room. We work together with Perf-IT for this. Their application brings all our hardware together in one DCIM system. For example, cooling systems from different brands can be seamlessly integrated into the system.

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What is mainly being watched at DCIM? It is about checking all important parameters in a data center: the temperature, power consumption, capacity and efficiency. At LCL, one system controls all these factors. In this way, employees can monitor their proper functioning day and night at a glance. This central, comprehensive approach makes the information much clearer than when you have to consult different systems. In the event of a warning or problem, the application also immediately gives an indication of the cause. The seriousness of the report becomes immediately apparent, even remotely.

Regarding temperature for example, we see the values ​​in the various halls and the impact thereof for each customer at a glance. In addition, the redundancy is closely monitored. Everything must be able to work redundantly in terms of temperature, but also in terms of electricity. Capacity management is also much simpler, both for the data center in general and for the customers individually. For example, when a customer consumes 80% of his available capacity, a warning may appear.

Thanks to our DCIM system, our customers enjoy extensive and clear reporting. This way they are informed in detail about the status of their servers. Thanks to our extensive analyzes, we can also inform them well in advance of evolutions that are best addressed. A too high power consumption can, for example, cause the redundancy to be too small. In that case we contact our customers preventively and indicate what the possible solutions for this are.

A good DCIM system bears fruit not only for our customers, but also for LCL. The “Power Usage Efficiency” (PUE) is closely monitored: after all, the ratio between customer power usage and infrastructure load should be as close as possible to one. This way we avoid unnecessary costs. On the other hand, it helps us to work more efficiently and sustainably. For example, the cooling has already been fine-tuned. Our energy consumption decreased significantly by changing the temperature control in the server rooms and by adjusting the rotation speed of the fans of the air-conditioning outdoor units.The DCIM application is also linked to invoicing, which means that the consumption per customer is thoroughly documented and calculations are made automatically.


After almost 2 years, the DCIM project at LCL has almost been finalised. The project took a lot of time because it was tackled one site at a time. Moreover, many analyzes preceded: for example, every power board and every flow meter was checked. The customized user interface required a large investment, but we think it is more than worth it. In the future we will also have a mobile DCIM app, so that employees can consult all the information via their mobile phone. That is something to look forward to!

By Laurens van Reijen

What do YOU prefer: a ‘self-service’ cloud provider or rather a ‘services-included’ cloud provider?

It took some time to convince businesses to migrate to the cloud – and there is still a certain percentage that hasn’t done so. They didn’t quite trust their applications and data would be secure. But now that many companies – large and small – see the advantages of the cloud, we get the opposite problem: there is too much trust.

People subscribe to cloud services paying peanuts, yet not expecting monkeys

A couple of years ago now, we had a clear case showing the difference. A large data center was struck by lightning. As a consequence, the clients of the data centre saw the light. The data centre lost some client data. They pointed out to their clients that it was their own fault. It’s the clients’ responsibility to take the necessary precautions to secure their data, not the cloud provider’s role to handle this, so they said. So these clients started realising that a self-service cloud does not entirely mean services are included. Quite on the contrary. The media reported that the clients’ calls weren’t answered. Whether literally no one was there or rather that they hadn’t planned to provide any service at all and therefore wouldn’t answer the calls: the clients were left in the cold.

People really want to be cheated, don’t they?

Do you really think that paying for cloud space with a credit card and without any personal contact would get you the same service as when buying from a real person who has listened to your needs? I don’t think so.

When you purchase from a cloud provider you can actually call someone and discuss your specific needs. These cloud providers generally have custom features. And the fact that you can speak to someone, really means that you can get support, as opposed to the situation where there’s no one you can call so no one to listen to your needs and able to support you. There are plenty of service-included cloud providers around: Joos Hybrid, Nucleus, Proact, Sentia, Tobania, just to name the ones we house.

There are no miracles, sorry…

People’s salaries represent a certain cost. If you want to be able to talk to someone, get custom features and/or support, that involves a person and a salary, so you pay the price. If you buy cloud space cheaply, that just means no human time is included. Did you agree to a standard offering? Watch it when you want to change your order. That also implies service.

At LCL, we house a lot of companies, government organisations and systems integrators requiring cloud services. We hear a lot of stories about cloud offerings being non-transparent, non-scalable, and financially unpredictable once you step outside what you initially signed for. If you buy into a standard, cheap offer, and you want to scale up or down, you’re dependant on your supplier. And as there’s no one who knows you, there’s no one to discuss your Frankly? Probably no one really cares beyond the monthly turnover. Meaning: unless you fit into the standard flow and all goes well, it’s plug-and-pray time. With some bad luck, you’re screwed.

A data centre is an ecosystem

When you choose a real data centre, especially one with a customer intimacy-strategy such as LCL, you enter an ecosystem. You have access to all the cloud providers you can wish for, the anonymous ‘self-service’ ones as well as the ‘service-included’ ones. We’re there to advise and accompany you. We want to understand your needs and make sure you get the solution that’s right for you. Because that’s the only way to build valuable long-term partnerships. And as we know our clients, we care for them to stay!

Laurens

66% of quoted companies have a cloud-strategy

Our survey of companies quoted on Euronext Brussels, shows that 66% of them has a cloud strategy.

Most (79%) have a private cloud. 17% set up a hybrid cloud. 4% use a public cloud.

The 33% of companies that doesn’t have a cloud strategy chooses not to go to the cloud because they feel that they have less control.

 

They prefer to manage their IT infrastructure internally, to ensure business continuity. It’s mainly real estate and industrial companies that choose not to go to the cloud.

This means for one thing that a number of companies has yet to be convinced that the cloud really can be safe. On the other hand, some companies fear that their business continuity may be jeopardized if they don’t ‘control’ their IT completely (meaning: in house, where they can actually see it). On the other hand, if they only have one data center, and they never really test their power backup, safety really is an illusion.

Our very own interpretation of the results is also that, to many people, like the 33% in our survey that chooses not to go to the cloud, ‘the cloud’ they know is the public cloud. Business people, as opposed to IT-people, don’t necessarily know that there is something like a private cloud, where you still manage your IT yourself if you want to. Where cloud technology, developed at first for public clouds, is brought to your personal infrastructure to give you the benefits of the cloud as well as full control. There are safe and less safe, and pricy as well as more affordable solutions in both public and private cloud solutions. And there’s the hybrid solution as well, combining both. The difference still is that you can’t go to your server room or data center and look at your infrastructure. So there remains a mental barrier to cross… We come across quite a few CIO’s that have difficulties convincing their management and/or their Board to go to the cloud. The lack of knowledge about the cloud is probably the reason why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth is that IT is not an exact science, and the market isn’t transparent. People have their own opinion about which is the best solution. There is no such thing as an objective measurement of the risk involved in different scenario’s. Fact and myth are intertwined. On the other hand: people learn when things go wrong, but they sometimes close their eyes for the learnings of others. There have yet to come more examples of companies having to shut down operations due to a power outage or another ‘disaster’.

We at LCL will continue our plead for secure data, in a secure housing environment. That is the one sure thing we can offer you!

Watch the video made by Kanaal Z about our survey on our YouTube channel.
Dutch version
French version

Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director LCL

A data center guideline for quoted companies: a call to action for FSMA?

1-enquete-disaster-recoveryA survey of Belgian, quoted companies that LCL ordered, showed that data security is not seen as essential within IT governance, not even with quoted companies.

One of our clients, a health care company, chose to work with us after their government control body said it was no option to work with only one data center.

In case of a disaster, you risk losing absolutely all your data. After your power shuts down, your company does too.

If you really want to be safe, at least 25 km should separate both data centers.

 

Moreover, best practices dictate that one should separate the development environment from the production systems.

What are the odds that the current mentality – we all trust that all will go well – will change in the short term?

Only a minority of companies interviewed said they were planning to set up a second data center.

2nd dc?

distance between dc's?

 

If we really want change, it will have to be directed by the stock exchange control body: FSMA.

So, in the best interest of our Belgian quoted companies, for the sake of their business continuity and employment – not to mention the shareholders who want return on their investment; data loss will almost certainly cause share devaluation – we call upon FSMA to issue a new guideline for quoted companies.

A guideline pushing quoted companies to have a second data center, and to either thoroughly test all back-up systems, including power backup, or to confide in a party that does just that for them. It’s a pain in the lower back part, but people will not move unless they have to.

Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director LCL