A data center is only as good as the humans behind it. While a data center is a structure housing a complex ecosystem of IT equipment, supported by cables and networking gear, power distribution units, cooling equipment, generators or flywheels, and so much more, it only runs well when qualified people design, build and maintain the multi-dimensional environment.
Chris Papp, VP Sales, Air Force One, a mechanically-centered engineering firm with hundreds of alliance partners, will moderate a panel, "Best Practices in Managing Outsourced Service Providers in the DC," at the spring Data Center World, which aims to assist data center managers and operators in running their operations smoothly and without a hitch by selecting top-notch providers and working with them well.
The trade show and educational conference convenes in Las Vegas, NV on April 19-23. The educational tracks will include many topical sessions, covering issues and new technologies that data center managers and service providers as well as owners and operators face.
Panel on Working With Your Providers
"Data centers have trouble managing providers," Papp said. "It’s important that proper planning and communication take place and everyone works together and gets you what you need."
The panel includes an end user who will share from the perspective of a data center manager and an engineering firm representative who can speak to designing and building data centers and the associated challenges. "Often the end user doesn’t know what they want," Papp said about the design process.
There are many common issues managing providers across the data center life cycle, said Papp, including the engineering design and construction, operations, including equipment preventative maintenance and the end of life issues, such as equipment replacement and expanding the data center to meet capacity demand.
Papp said the panel will discuss how to measure success/failure; general planning (project scope, timeline, contingency planning); and best practices in communication with contractors.
Many Issues Arise from Poor Selection
Some other issues that often arise is the end user selects an engineering firm doesn't have experience with data centers or the contractors installing equipment are not the same people who can service the equipment.
"It's a matter of ongoing quality control," said Papp, adding that these kinds of issues are widespread. "These issues don’t discriminate. We find them among all kinds of end users. Larger organizations have so many complexities that it leads to paralysis and they can’t communicate. Or smaller businesses don’t have resources or they have selected an engineering firm that doesn’t have the reach they need."
For Air Force One, they have partners across North America who are qualified to work in the data centers across North America. "We have the same level of expertise throughout the partners and we qualify selected techs across North America," Papp said, adding that there are 500 companies in his network and the company has 20 to 30 years of referrals.
Qualifying Service Providers
Selecting the right outsourced provider can take time and needs a lot of attention to detail, but careful selection will pay off later.
"We look at the history, referrals, local requirements, national reach, services provided, background/security checks, safety training, expertise in field, response time," Papp said.
At Air Force One, we evaluate what communications are needed and what is the time frame from service order to solutions, he said. This is an important item to understand if you are not tolerant of downtime.
This elements and others in the outsourced provider process will be discussed during the panel presentation at Data Center World. To learn more, attend this panel at at spring Data Center World Global Conference in Las Vegas. Register at the Data Center World website.