Charles Browning is Senior Vice President of Operations at vXchnge. Charlie is responsible for operations and site management.
Disasters – whether caused by Mother Nature or human error – are lurking around every corner and the outcomes can be catastrophic to an ill-prepared company. Unfortunately, when disaster strikes, the first place business performance is affected is at the data center.
According to Uptime Institute, 70 percent of data center outages are directly attributed to human error. And while a solid plan is essential, it’s only as good as the people who support it. A strong team can make all the difference in whether or not downtime at the data center goes unnoticed. Focusing on the people behind the maintenance, power and communication in your data center can help lessen the risk of downtime.
Skilled team members, maintenance
A 2014 study from Ponemon Institute found that the average cost of an unplanned data center outage is $7,900 per minute, a 41 percent increase since 2010. On average, outages last 86 minutes bringing the average cost of a downtime incident to a jolting $690,000. To avoid this hefty and unnecessary cost, safeguarding your data center with an experienced team is the first step to take.
Having skilled team members can help maintain an effective running data center. Each member should demonstrate disaster recovery experience, possess a “what if” attitude, and have a problem-solving assertiveness, without placing blame on third-party vendors or network providers.
Equally as important as the in-house team, is the team that supports the data center. They too need to be well-versed and have proven experience, not only in their specific field, but in disaster recovery. From the equipment manufacturers, network providers, and power and energy engineers, these supporting companies should have specialized individuals who can deliver solutions quickly when issues arise.
For example, when a natural disaster strikes, the data center needs the individuals who engineered the equipment to be present, not a hired contractor who is unfamiliar with the technology or the facility. While this individual may be adequate, they most likely do not know the ins and outs of your specific data center.
Keep your eye on the power source
At any data center the most important element is the power. Monthly testing and planning sessions need to occur in order to keep things running properly. That way, if disaster strikes, the action plan is stable and each team member knows their role in restoring power.
The most imperative plans in any data center are the power and cooling plans. Elite power and cooling processes help businesses keep costs down and guarantee performance. When a data center’s power source is suddenly cut off, backup generators are key. This helps power restore almost instantly.
However, simply having generators isn’t enough. There must also be a plan to test the backup generators on a monthly basis. This ensures that generators are up to speed and that the backup equipment can handle the takeover if need be. It may seem like an obvious statement, but testing outcomes should also be a high focus, that way any necessary steps in fixing a potential problem can be taken before it’s too late.
Communication is always key
For any disaster recovery plan to work effectively, communication is key. A one-line diagram of the facility’s infrastructure is highly suggested, so that the team, as well as businesses within the data center, can easily identify the specific cause of the problem. Without this type of diagram, when an issue arises, it becomes difficult to identify what is causing the problem. Without knowing what causes the problem, it is impossible to fix it, resulting in longer downtimes and interrupted service.
Around-the-clock support of live experts is becoming an industry norm for data centers. These people should also be experts within the data center so there isn’t further miscommunication or delay.
Falling victim to disaster
Without adequate brainpower fueling its plans and procedures, even the most comprehensive data center can fall victim to an unforeseen disaster. Focusing on the people behind the maintenance, power and communication will surely help lessen the risk of downtime at a data center, saving companies both money and unwanted stress.
Whether it’s adding in new elements such as 24/7 local, live expert support or a monthly reissuing of the one-line diagram to all team members, there are always new ways to make sure data centers can weather the storm.
What are some other elements that can help? Leave your comments below!
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