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Essential Workers: Keeping Data Centers Running During the Pandemic

This is what life inside data centers during the COVID-19 pandemic looks like. (Gallery)

Facemasks, hand sanitizer, and ample distance between people. These things are all too familiar to everybody by now.

Like doctors, nurses, store clerks, police, and firefighters, data center operators have been classified as essential workers in much of the world, and they’ve been taking the necessary precautions when coming to work.

We wanted to see how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the day-to-day work inside data centers. To find out, we’ve spoken to people on the ground remotely and written about what they’ve told us. But we couldn’t see for ourselves – for obvious reasons.

So, we asked data center operators to help us out and send us photos that show how things have changed for the people operating digital infrastructure, which in these recent months became more critical than it had ever been before.

Here are some of the photos we have received in response. Not surprisingly, as you will see, work in data centers has changed in very similar ways, be it in Cairo, Mumbai, Prague, Maidenhead, Glasgow, Chicago, or Reston, Virginia. Data center engineers across the world are following the same safety protocol, while their customers are asked to follow suit.

What these photos don’t reveal, of course, is the tremendous change in processes the operators now use to run their facilities. They’ve left skeleton crews at the sites themselves, having as many workers as possible do their work remotely. Shift handoffs are done indirectly to prevent cross-shift infection. Non-essential maintenance is deferred.

We’d like to thank CE Colo, CoreSite, GPX, and iomart for sharing these images. And, we’d like to thank all data center operators around the world for enabling our society to continue functioning through this crisis. Without you, there would be no email, social media, video conferencing, digital classrooms, online shopping, movie streaming, or news websites. We would all be stranded if it wasn’t for your efforts.

Find all our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the data center industry here.

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