Management specialist Avocent has launched a new tool aimed at helping data centre administrators to manage a variety of resources within their data centres.

The Avocent Mergepoint Infrastructure Explorer combines the management of resources such as heating, cooling power and real estate with that of IT asset management.

Marc Marazzi. European sales manager for Avocent said that the product pulled together information that had previously been held in disparate ways."IT managers have been using spreadsheets to keep track of their assets but there have been problems with that," he said.

Marazzi claimed that product information entered into a spreadsheet could be inaccurate and pointed out that it wouldn't necessarily contain information from other sources. He said that most enterprises now look to have greater communication between IT and facilities management - the days when deparments operated in isolation were over.

He said AMIE would help with that integration. "We offer a browser-based solution that that contains a plan of the data centre - right down to every individual rack. We have an asset library of 5,000 products that contains all data about those products right down to power consumed and their weight. Previously, that information would have been in different places but now administrators can get a single-pane view of that data centre."

One of the key ways in which the product could be used, he said, was in assigning assets to particular departments for chargeback purposes. "Administrators will have a real handle on factors such as power consumed or storage used," he said.

Owen McKee, Avocent's UK country manager said that another feature of the product was that enterprises would be able to plan data centres much more carefully. Businesses would be able to look at how to equip data centres or whether new ones were actually needed, he said.

This was a view endorsed by analysts. "Providing a deeper look at data centre assets and monitoring power, heat and other environmental factors in real time is the next frontier for data centres," said Dennis Drogseth, vice president of Enterprise Management Associates. "With AMIE, Avocent provides a way to map the outcome before you build or rebuild a data centre."

AMIE is being charged at £750 per rack, which seems like a steep amount when it's being used to replace a set of spreadsheets. This is disputed by Marazzi, however. " On the face of it, spreadsheets are easier," he said, " but you consider it can take two or three hours to put one together, compared to the 30 minutes that would take to get an accurate reading, and it doesn't look so bad," he said.