Curb Data Center Downtime with Predictive Maintenance

Paul Lachance<br/>Smartware GroupPaul Lachance
Smartware Group

Paul Lachance is President of Smartware Group.

As the the world becomes increasingly dependent on the Internet, data centers have come to power our everyday lives. In fact, the average US consumer spends roughly six hours a day online. When a data center goes down, it can negatively impact everything from professional and personal communications to finances and travel.

The financial implications of data center downtime are outrageous. Organizations lose an average of $138,000 for one hour of downtime. To put this in perspective, Amazon stands to lose $1,104 for every second is down. What’s more, 59 percent of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours of downtime per week, which could lead to a loss of $46 million in labor costs annually.

According to the Uptime Institute, human error causes almost three-fourths of all data center outages. However, many other factors like cybercrime, natural disasters or flaws within the data centers themselves can also cause downtime. Even something as seemingly innocuous as a squirrel chewing through a cable can cause major damage to a data center.

Given the costs of downtime, data centers need to implement a more modern maintenance strategy. However, many of these centers still rely on spreadsheets or even pen and paper to track each piece of equipment, essentially adopting a reactive approach to upkeep. As a result, occasional downtime is expected and all too common. However, many of these outages can be prevented or minimized with the right maintenance approaches and technology.

Preventive and Predictive Maintenance

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—or in this case, millions of dollars. And with the prevalence of data-driven maintenance software, data centers can better equip themselves to identify and avert potential failure points, saving both themselves and their customers time and money.

One of the most basic approaches to avoiding downtime is through calendar-based maintenance. This means that maintenance teams schedule upgrades, monitoring upkeep on a weekly, monthly or annual basis depending on the machine. This approach prevents downtime and ultimately cuts costs by using the typical lifespan of each piece of machinery to anticipate usual wear and tear and fix any issues before significant problems arise.

The more advanced, data-driven approach to data center maintenance is predictive. This strategy relies on a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to monitor machine components before they break down and generates work orders to address issues that arise outside of regular calendar-based maintenance. In data centers, where uninterrupted service is critical, a CMMS offers a clear benefit by showing the actual condition of each machine rather than an assumption based on a schedule or historical data.

While a predictive approach may be a better fit for data centers, the key for all data facilities is to avoid reactive maintenance. Fixing issues once they’ve already occurred is exponentially more costly.

Data Centers Are a Perfect Fit for CMMS

It wasn’t until the last 10 years that we started to see CMMS as mission critical to data centers, which is interesting given the fact that no one pays a bigger price for downtime than data centers.

The good news is that unlike other industries or large facilities, data centers are generally more technologically inclined. This industry is far more likely to have a maintenance team embrace an advanced solution that would help prevent major outages, while a legacy manufacturing company with a less technologically-adept maintenance team may be more prone to resistance.

What’s more, modern CMMS vendors with cloud-based applications are run on data centers themselves, which means that they truly understand the nuances of the industry. These vendors complete regular audits and necessary certifications to ensure that all data stored is safe and secure as cyber security continues to cause issues within the industry. These CMMS vendors should also be well-versed in maintenance safety and offer regular notifications for technicians to refresh skills or complete professional certifications.

Avoiding data center downtime will only become more critical as our reliance on the internet continues to increase. Given the massive amount of machinery and intricacies involved in data centers, it only makes sense for a data-driven system to manage the maintenance of these facilities. For data centers, investing in CMMS technology now can prevent a significant loss of money down the road.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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