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Ways to effective data centre management

Oliver Lindner, Head of Business Line Data Centre Infrastructure Management, FNT Software | Oct. 20, 2015
Operating a data centre requires more than just good planning; it also calls for effective management and regular process audits.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Early this year, a data centre located in a desert — of all places — suffered major damage when a roof drainage channel in an internal wall became blocked and left the IT space knee-deep in water.

Although the centre was correctly equipped with subfloor sensors that provided the proper early warning, the management personnel failed to respond quickly enough due to a lack of instructions on what action to take. Specifically, there was no indication in the documentation of who to contact in the event of water ingress.

Before embarking on the costly and specialist planning of secure and reliable data centres with redundant power and climate systems, it is therefore essential — as this example clearly shows —that all operating procedures be fully developed by the time the facility is handed over to the operator.

Only then is it possible to ensure that the required availability is actually guaranteed through effective, practical measures.

Components, such as cooling equipment and power supplies, are usually operated via general building management systems (BMS). These integrated control systems and associated alarm consoles are often deployed on a local basis only, i.e., each location is managed separately, with no enterprise-wide control.

As a result, it is usually not possible to monitor data centres remotely or develop a hierarchical system that incorporates all locations. The “umbrella” systems developed to address this problem have made very little impact on the market thus far — mainly on account of their technical limitations and cost.

It is not readily possible to use conventional, local building management systems either to create and maintain processes with continuous updating of key information, such as contact persons, or to monitor and control IT infrastructure components. Instead, the best available option for running data centre facilities is the category of dedicated software solutions known as data centre infrastructure management tools (DCIM).

DCIM tools are a pivotal requirement for reliable and efficient management of data centre resources. Linking building engineering systems with the IT infrastructure, they provide valid and up-to-date information that enables users to make the right decisions every time.

The documentation and planning of relevant building systems and IT infrastructure using DCIM tools is not an end in itself. Rather, it is the basic prerequisite for reliable data centre operation. The primary aim is proactive fault prevention rather than reactive fault correction. Complete and accurate documentation of the entire current path enables data centre planners to avoid the accidental overloading of fuses, power supplies, generators, etc.

Knowing the location and specifications of all energy-consuming devices in a particular zone allows for accurate evaluation of heat output and thus reliable calculation of cooling requirements. Potential hotspots are identified and avoided before they can become a problem.

 

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