WEB EXCLUSIVE: Open System? Open Source?

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This Web Exclusive was contributed by Steven Carlini, senior director of Data Center Global Solutions at Schneider Electric.

The current data center infrastructure management (DCIM) market is undergoing a surge of activity, with new players and technological advances that enable facilities and IT professionals to manage energy usage, assets, and events with increasingly accuracy and agility. This adoption of DCIM software doesn’t show signs of slowing down: the IDC predicts that the DCIM industry, including service and software revenue, will grow 25% through 2015.web exclusive

There are several key factors to consider when purchasing a DCIM solution. Among them is whether the software is based on an open or closed system. There is often confusion over the difference between “open source” and “open system” software. While similar, these terms have very different meanings.

“Open source” refers to the coding behind software. Open source allows developers to share, view, and adopt code to build new systems. Examples include Linux, an open source operating system, and Hadoop, an open source storage system. Open source software is often developed through highly engaged, self directed computing communities. Open source software benefits from greater customizability, flexibility, and interoperability with other systems.

“Open system” means that systems of varying functions and manufacturers can “speak” together through well defined web services and APIs (application programming interfaces) that are built into software pieces at both ends. Open systems provide both system-to-component connectivity and system-to-system connectivity.

System-to-component connectivity is when the software component picks up data—for example, power readings and temperature measurements. This data provides valuable, actionable insight for facilities managers to monitor, maintain, and optimize power and cooling systems.

System-to-system connectivity operates at a higher level; for example, open system DCIM software can speak to a VMware virtualization solution or Cisco hardware system. This is crucial to collect data specific to those domains.

The difference between open source and open system is an incredibly important distinction for facilities and data center managers looking to install DCIM software that can integrate easily with power, cooling, and IT systems for greater control and more feature rich functionality. Otherwise, managers can find themselves stuck with a single vendor and limited capabilities—which can affect not only the data center, but the entire enterprise.

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