Keeping a Critical Eye on Critical Infrastructure

by Robert Leake on 5/20/20 4:50 PM

Reluctantly, today’s workforce is getting more accustomed to working from home, and data center operators are not immune to this shift in operational flexibility. This along with the impacts of Critical Infrastructure becoming more tangible, has made the need for a Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) systems more apparent. This is not groundbreaking news for those of us in Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) who have always tended to on-prem conditions in a 24x7 environment. While this has historically had flavors of “managing from afar”, the extent of insight and control have been steadily increasing with the abilities enabled by today’s DCIM solutions.

vertiv data center 0513

Critical Infrastructure has typically been a world of hardware; physical equipment that is your last line of defense in keeping your facility operational. When problems arose, a tech would address the alarm through a physical inspection - or you’d call a Hardware Hotshot (like DVL) offering expertise in that particular problem. But organizations today expect much more than simply staying operational from their I&O Teams. Leadership Teams expect:

  • Risk reduction
  • Improving capacity management/forecasting
  • Increasing agile decision making
  • Compliance to federal regulations and corporate responsibility requirements

These expectations are made a reality thanks to the continual advancements in the DCIM landscape. From native solutions developed by manufacturers like Vertiv, to the after-market solutions supplementing information to management teams across everything from generator, to ATS, to UPS, to CRAC, DCIM enables users a greater sense of control created by granular specifics across the entire critical infrastructure equation. Availability of data is not only providing better insight into the overall performance of the data center, but in some instances it’s actually able to predict the problem before it arises. This data is improving threat management, response times, and paving the way for positive financial impacts to the business.

Most professionals (especially those in the world of operations) have asked themselves, “How can I do more with less?” Well, the old adage of “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” puts into perspective what is needed in order to get more positive results with less… dollars, efforts, and assets. Efficiency of a data center revolves around reducing waste and unnecessary overprovisioning of power, cooling, space, and IT resources. DCIM solutions allow you to tap into the data behind how your infrastructure is performing today, and helps you understand how you can better manage impacts of those variables tomorrow, resulting in improved financials.

While DCIM offers many paths to greener pastures, unfortunately, there have been plenty of DCIM projects that had to be cancelled due to damaging mistakes in solution selection and deployment. This challenge is indicative of why only 42% of data center operators are using a solution today, and emphasizes why DCIM should be a collaborative process across the entire organization. When an organization takes a collective look at the available data, connecting one dot to the next, decision making teams are able to recognize more opportunities for improvement and create a shared perspective on where the organization stands on:

  • Required Analytics
  • Must-Have Features
  • Agreed upon objectives
  • Security Policies (i.e. platform resiliency, data integrity)
  • Reporting and Mobility

These are only a few points to consider when looking at DCIM as more than just a technology. Technologies are tools to enhance the management philosophy of how you run the business, and how to maximize not just the equipment – but the people providing tangible results in the forms of efficiency and financial improvements. We discussed a few more of these considerations on a recent webinar, Keeping a Critical Eye on Critical Infrastructure; and covered how DCIM has exponentially improved throughout the years with our friends at Critical Labs and Packet Power. The panel discussion ended up being a great overview of the DCIM landscape, and the value-added impacts that are behind today’s data centers.

logo-final Packet Power logo-1

We invite you to listen to last week’s webinar to learn much more about DCIM and monitoring systems and how they can, in most cases, be easily integrated into your existing infrastructure.

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Topics: monitoring, beyond the product, packet power, critical labs

Understanding the Critical Infrastructure Behind Healthcare Facilities

by Jodi Holland on 4/23/20 3:22 PM

In recent years, the IT world has been seeing a movement to the Edge across most industries, especially in the realms of Finance, Legal, and Healthcare. Now, the Coronavirus pandemic has added a new variable to the Edge equation for Healthcare, as facilities across the country are constructing additions to their hospitals in support of testing and providing care. A recent DVL webinar addressed this rising concern, with many of the products and solutions discussed (and here below) being applicable to Edge environments in any industry.

healthcarehero

Unfortunately, there is no playbook for building these temporary facilities. While they do require the same types of critical infrastructure as facilities we’re used to creating, they demand an even greater sense of confidence in their operability. The aspects of building out temporary facilities are not terribly different than what is typically driving the demands of Healthcare IT: Electronic Records Management, Artificial Intelligence, and communications amongst staff and with patients and staff. The critical infrastructure supporting these applications must take into account an additional set of considerations for these temporary facilities:

  • Footprint Size
  • Power Requirements
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Procurement & Installation
  • Deployment Timeframe
  • Infrastructure Monitoring

If a Playbook were to exist on this topic, it would include chapters like:

  • Defining your specific applications
  • What do those applications require to operate
  • How do those requirements translate into critical infrastructure, and
  • How to build your infrastructure for efficient operations.

This is where DVL can be helpful to your project. Our commitment to going “Beyond the Product” means we don’t just sell you equipment and move to the next customer. Rather, we are here to help you connect the dots and present you with solutions to meet your objectives. Each project is its own unique venture as we work with you to define and understand everything from power and cooling requirements driven by your specific IT applications, to what type of rack is best suited for your peace of mind.

Temporary-Healthcare-Facilities-Buying-Guide-1No matter your industry, if you weren’t able to join us for the one-hour webinar, we invite you and your colleagues to watch the recording here. Or, you can download our Buyer's Guide for a better understanding of the aforementioned critical infrastructure considerations.   

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Topics: server room, healthcare, hospitals, beyond the product

DVL's Employee Ownership Culture

by Robert Leake on 3/16/20 11:47 AM

“There is no more profitable investment than investing in yourself.” - Roy T. Bennett

Our customers often mention the dedication of DVL associates as one of the many reasons they continually turn to us for their critical infrastructure needs. From our Sales Engineers’ ability to find unique ways to cost-effectively solve project challenges, to each DVL Technician’s diligence to quality for maintenance and emergency calls; the most significant ingredient in the DVL Secret Sauce may be that we are a 100% employee owned company.

DVL became partially employee owned in 2006, and eventually 100% employee owned in 2012. We are an organization that is driven by employee owners—subsequently, our Mission and Vision aren’t just arbitrary concepts, but are brought to life by an entire group of people inspired to achieve a shared success.

denver-service-about-slider

In 1974, Congress passed The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which formally established a legal framework for ESOPs (employee owned companies). Since then, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership, the practice of employee ownership has proven to motivate employees, increase productivity, improve worker retention, and contribute to business longevity. If you directly benefit from the success of your company, you’ll be all-the-more motivated to succeed, and more importantly, encourage your co-owners to succeed as well. If their success is your success, teamwork is inherently engrained in everything you do!

To ensure we garner the very best from each and every one of our associates, from day one, we go all-in with investing in their development as a professional, and as a valued member of our team. So, just like many of the 6,400+ ESOPs in the country, we empower our people by educating, sharing, and involving. This includes the following measures:

  • Friend-tor Program: New associates are assigned a Friend-tor, another associate, by their manager, so they can have a colleague for one-on-one conversations if they have questions about the company or employee ownership.
  • ESOP 101: This course is held quarterly so new associates can take part in an in-depth lesson on ESOPs, and also how our business works. What effects the stock value? How does the performance of your department positively or negatively effect the bottom line? These questions and many more are addressed.
  • Finance 101: This course is held twice a year, and provides a foundation for associates to understand the performance figures that are shared with the company . This way, there are no surprises with the financials, and everyone understands what contributes to the stock price, which is determined once a year.
  • Lastly, we have the DVL ESOP Communications Committee, which bears the responsibility and mission of educating (and ultimately engaging) the employee owners of DVL Group. We strive to assure the committee is an accurate cross-organizational representation of the company so that all departments and offices have a voice.

From our own experiences as an ESOP, we can whole-heartedly agree with the NCEO’s findings. Afterall, as CEO Gary Hill likes to say, “we have careers here at DVL, not jobs.” Which is why going #BeyondTheProduct will always be our modus operandi.

 

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Topics: beyond the product, employee owned, ESOP Association, National Center for Employee Ownership

The Evolution of DVL

by Jodi Holland on 2/11/20 9:42 AM

This is a very special month for us at DVL Group. It marks 35 years since Kyle Will and Michael Murphy founded our company. It has been an amazing journey over the past three decades, as our company has seen many evolutions. To understand the significance of these changes, we’ll need to start at the beginning and what “DVL” originally stood for—“Delaware Valley Liebert.” A nod to both our location and the foundational relationship we have with Liebert (now known as Vertiv).

will and murphy(L-R) Kyle Will and Michael Murphy

In 1985, we were a team of 10, and served the needs of data center customers across the Philadelphia metro area, known as the Delaware Valley. We provided industry leading Liebert air conditioning and power equipment as we strove to find ways to add value to the products we sold to our customers. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were already going beyond the product.

bldg

It’s hard to forget the substantial amount of ebbs and flows we’ve seen since then. We have experienced much growth both as a company, and often, alongside our customers, as the industry never stopped expanding. Uniquely, we have been able to witness this from all angles of the data center universe, as we have worked intimately with people in many roles, such as engineers, contractors, end-users, and architects. Likewise, we have collaborated on projects of all shapes and sizes in a long list of diverse verticals.

We experienced and solved challenges together as lasting partnerships formed. And we remain grateful for these relationships as you saw us for what we are, an assembly of engineers and specialists with the expertise to adapt to new technology and needs, while making your needs and requirements our priority. You placed trust in us, and in return, we delivered custom solutions as unique as your company. This dynamic is the core of what has allowed DVL to flourish and grow all these years.

And, this is why, it wasn’t long before we became so much more than the three letters that make up our name. This acronym stands for so much more today as our previous success has led to growth as professionals and the physical growth of our footprint; which ushered in even more opportunities, and subsequently, expansion.

Along the way, we have even been able to expand our ownership as well as we became an employee owned company (ESOP), which is one of our biggest accomplishments to date. Our company became partially employee owned in 2006 when owners Michael Murphy and Mike Beck decided that becoming an ESOP was a rewarding path for the employees, who helped the company achieve its success. As Murphy put it, “I believe an ESOP provides a great vehicle for financial growth of all our hard working associates, one that will continue to generate benefits long into the future." He was right about that in 2012 when we became 100% employee owned, and he continues to be right today, as our employee ownership culture is what sets us apart and helped us become Great Place to Work™ certified.

As far as the growth our physical territory goes, in 2003, we expanded into Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania with the acquisition of a Harrisburg-based company. More recently, we ventured westward, when in June 2018 we acquired a company in Denver, CO, as well as its subsidiary, Albuquerque, NM. Additionally, this time last year, we acquired a company in Salt Lake City, Utah. DVL now has a national presence, and these strategic acquisitions have allowed us to expand our mission of powering critical environments.

Locations_map

This physical growth led to the opportunity for us to open the breadth of our manufacturer representations as well. Now, along with Liebert (again, now Vertiv), we have partnered with Starline, Generac Industrial Power, Russelectric, and more, in order to have an even more comprehensive level of expertise in the critical IT infrastructure landscape. While product coverage isn’t universal across all our territories today, these relationships allow us to provide an unparalleled range of offerings.

Thankfully, the one thing that has not changed over the last three decades is our dedication to our customers. We still give every project the same personal touch and prove that we don’t just sell our customers products. We care about your success, and we work tirelessly to prepare our teams with the ability to set the standard in service and sales expertise. They’re educated on the developments of our manufacturers’ products, and the evolutionary demands of the marketplace to exceed your expectations. This is what “DVL” stands for today, as we proclaimed with our recent rebranding—it’s a representation of our company and our promise of reliability as we go #BeyondTheProduct to help your critical systems perform flawlessly and, much like we have these last 35 years, flourish. 

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Topics: data center infrastructure, DVL Customers, vertiv, dvl history

The Data Center of the (Very Near) Future

by Robert Leake on 1/22/20 8:37 AM

Leaders in technology all over the world are starting off the year focused on a review of the last twelve months, and also where the next decade’s marketplace trends will lead us. The latter is being highlighted by the Uptime Institute, with the increasing needs of resiliency and risk, cloud and innovation, upward demand curves, and the Edge. Across this vast landscape there are a few things which stand out in a very applicable way in the worlds of Critical Power and Thermal Management.

The first is not a shocker: Data growth is happening, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Explosive growth is being driven by data warehousing, IoT, Machine-to-Machine learning, and, of course, AI. The Global Datasphere is expected to reach 175 Zettabytes in the next five years, and all this data will need to be collected, processed, distributed, accessed, stored, and backed-up.

man working in data center

Data centers will continue to see an influx of compute equipment, demand for maximizing floor space, and an increasing need to leverage hardware and software innovations. There will be immense pressure on data center operators to assure every variable is considered.

In today’s environmentally-friendly-focused world, it’s no surprise that data center energy consumption and remedying inefficiencies are also rising priorities. By the end of the decade, we should be able to see significant strides in the worlds of “Green Power” (i.e. Wave and Wind Power, Carbon Capture, and future technologies), and begin to see how the improvements we’ve made in critical facilities are impacting the environment.

However, the power conundrums of today also need answers. The strategies behind uninterruptible power, switchgear controls, generator “use”, and cooling efficiencies are the ways data center operators can positively affect their usage and costs in 2020 and beyond. The data center equipment that are powering and cooling environments today were great at the time of their installation, whether 25, 15, or even five years ago, but recent technological advancements provide answers to problems of energy inefficiencies and improvements to power consumption expenditures.

The realms of Thermal and Power are seeing advancements like iCOM, remote monitoring software, and leveraging stand-by for active applications. These efficiencies have evolved over time. We at DVL have helped orchestrate this evolution for our customers, which allowed us to learn how to recognize the most value from each project. Technology offers an amazing opportunity to reduce costs, manage easier, and improve impacts on the environment – but only if it’s being utilized.

Finally, that brings us to the Edge. But first, a pop quiz: Would you define the Edge as:

  • A Regional Data Center
  • A key to the future of infrastructure driven by 5G
  • Facilities sitting somewhere between On-Prem and the Cloud
  • Whatever it needs to be, as long as latency is reduced
  • All of the above

Fact is, defining the Edge probably depends on who you’re talking to. The Edge is something we at DVL have seen evolving for years as we have helped customers shape what it looks like in their networks. In the Northeast US, land is at a (pricey) minimum, and businesses have been needing to think about new ‘outside-the-box’ locations for data management for a long time. In the west, data center builds are constructing closer to renewable energy sources. And everywhere is starting to think about ‘data thinning’ in an effort to distribute compute capacity while reducing latency.

Our efforts in engineering on the Edge have included everything from regional data centers to enhanced IT closets. In many instances, repurposing existing non-technical space into a data center is at the core of the project, and something DVL Engineers embrace, in an effort to tailor solutions to your needs.

All of these trends intertwine – data tonnage is changing how we efficiently power and cool data centers. Energy availability and renewability is impacting building from the Core to the Edge. The Edge is evolving as the data tsunami continues to grow.

With technology becoming an ever-increasing part of life, the data center world is going to feel the pressure of being the heartbeat of how the world operates. Engineers are tasked with expanding the abilities of the infrastructure, making sure it's not killing the environment, and assuring it's "always available" - oh and getting the most value from every investment. Our team at DVL has been addressing these same needs for 35 years, and we’d love to understand how we might be able to do the same for you.

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Topics: the edge, top trends, mission-critical

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