Data centers are the beating hearts of modern businesses. They house critical infrastructure and sensitive data that is vital to all departments across an organization. In this fast-paced digital landscape, making sure your data center is always in top operational shape shouldn’t be just a goal, but an absolute necessity on any given day that someone will need to access pivotal data at the click of a mouse.
And, as you know quite well, running a data center pulls you in multiple directions at once. That’s why, to ensure you’re never offline, it’s important to always have a real-time pulse on the areas outlined below.
Security: Building Fortresses for Data
Imagine a data center as a fortress with a hard outer shell and multiple layers within, each with their own security measures. Strict management of access ensures only those who require entry to each of these levels can actually get in. This goes beyond the front door and is a physical concern throughout the entire data center. To minimize security risks, it’s a must to manage the who, why, and where of every person entering your facility, as non-company staff must access the grounds for daily demands or periodic maintenance.
Preparation is Key
The COVID-19 pandemic brought many unexpected challenges for those leading data center operations at the time. Companies have long developed various types of disaster recovery plans accounting for a variety of scenarios. However, the pandemic tested those plans. And, when we found ourselves in a situation that hadn’t been experienced in 100 years, many failed the test. Fortunately, lessons learned strengthened disaster recovery going forward. Such lessons include the delicate nature of supply chain management, the importance of procuring inventory when available, and being able to execute “on a dime” during even the most chaotic of times. For these reasons, establishing thorough disaster recovery plans and being able to quickly adapt to unknowns have become indispensable.
Safety: A Cultural Requirement
Prioritizing the well-being of employees working under extreme conditions is crucial and should never be a question. That is why, for very good reasons, safety has become a cultural requirement for all businesses. Main concerns within data center environments include managing worksites where employees from multiple companies are working in tandem, ensuring the safety of workers that are working alone, taking precautions when working with high voltage power infrastructure, and having in place efficient response processes in case of emergencies. It’s not just enough to have these processes in place, but to ensure that no one is cutting corners, especially organizational leaders, as values are engrained from the very top. If you get everyone home safely at the end of the day, you’ve got yourself a strong culture and a safe data center.
Even the top tier of organizations have room for improvement, whether being driven for the need to optimize efficiency or new ways to stay on budget. Repetitive tasks can be improved by identifying process enhancements and design strategies. Challenging the status quo can have significant results when driven by the employees who are closest to the challenges. Buy-in at all levels is needed for improvements and long-term success, as support from leadership helps to ensure this evolution occurs.
Nurturing Future Leaders
As the most experienced data center professionals continue to retire, there is a greater need for fresh faces. But to accomplish this, the industry needs to make sure students at all levels are being properly introduced to the concept of data centers, how they work, and why they must work for society to function. For example, younger generations are the largest consumers and creators of data. The broadband requirements are ever increasing, and the workhorse behind this data isn’t even a thought, as they may not recognize the connection between data centers and their iCloud folders, unless it is demonstrated to them. Furthermore, tomorrow’s professionals stand to benefit from learning more about our industry, as it opens for them a new door of career potential and even lucrative compensation.
Exposing younger generations to the industry, whether through professional forums and societies or internships, providing guidance on required skills, and mentoring them as they mature, are essential to properly pass the torch. These future leaders will shape the industry's evolution and will more immediately allow you to sleep soundly at night knowing the lights are being properly kept on, and equipment is up and running.
Finding the Right Fit
Attitude and aptitude are definite requirements for an employee to succeed in data center operations. When recruiting for the best possible fit, you’re going to ultimately need someone who can handle the stress of working in such an unpredictable environment. Being resilient during challenging times makes for outstanding professionals in any field. Additionally, communication skills are vital. Being able to identify and resolve problems is great, but being able to turn those problems into learning opportunities for an entire team, is invaluable, especially in the high-stress moments.
By making these items a priority, and by constantly reevaluating your organization’s needs, you are positioning your organization for great success. One data center operations team that has figured this out quite well, is the EdgeCore Data Centers’ team of operations leaders, led by Therese Kerfoot, SVP Operations. In December, Kerfoot and her team, Harrison Stoll (VP Operations), Matt Silvers (VP Operations Programs), and Sarah Kasper (Sr. Director, Environmental Health & Safety) joined us on the DVL Power Hour, “Data Center Excellence: Operations & Safety,” where the four shared their experiences in these areas and more. To learn about the extremely valuable insights they brought to the table, please check out the On-Demand webinar, or listen to the adapted podcast version available below and on iTunes and Spotify.