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Key Mistakes in Data Center Operations
In today’s connected society, the demands placed on data center professionals is at an all-time high
due to the need for modern devices to always have connectivity. While investing in quality
equipment is one way to avoid downtime, you can greatly improve the performance of your
datacenter by working to minimize common ine ciencies within your company.
Whether you are a C-Level executive or employee directly handling the operations of the data center, the knowledge discussed in this paper is critical to making your job more manageable. Running a datacenter can be demanding at times, but by focusing on a few key tweaks to your work ow, you can ensure you can meet even the toughest demands. Mistakes are part of human nature however in a datacenter setting, the costs can be astronomical.
According to recent research, in 2013 the average partial datacenter shutdown lasted 59 minutes and cost $350,413 while a total shutdown lasted 119 minutes and cost $901,5601. The average per minute cost of an unplanned partial outage was $5,617 while a total outage cost $7,908.
The most common mistakes related to datacenter operations include improper training, choosing the wrong technologies and not enough awareness1. When managing a mission critical environment, any downtime is unacceptable to clients which is why knowing how to avoid trouble before it occurs is critical to your success.
By following the advice mentioned in this guide, you should be able to improve current operations with existing resources, plus you should be able to update your future data center plans to be more e cient as they are implemented.
Ponemon Institute. “2013 Cost of Datacenter Outages.” December 2013. Emerson Network Power. November 15, 2014 Failing to Properly Train Talent ?
Most capacity planning and performance management skills within IT infrastructure teams are not able to meet the needs of businesses in today’s rapidly evolving society. By 2016 this talent gap is estimated to be a major constraint to approximately 80 percent of major organizations2.
Humans are a primary source of errors within data centers, which is why career development programs are vital to helping to ensure you stay ahead of your competitors. Continuous training can help reduce overhead associated with system upgrades, plus it also
While implementing employee training programs can be a daunting task, you can implement
training programs right now by following the steps below:
Ensure employees are aware of the unique aspects of your facilities:
Every datacenter has unique components and con gurations. While general certi cations can help sta with the general concepts of business operations, training tailored to your datacenter can greatly reduce mistakes and improve e ciency.
Routinely perform emergency drills for common issues:
The IT world is no stranger to Murphy’s Law which states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” You should never assume your safeguards will prevent issues from occurring. Failing to perform drills can lead to excessive amounts of downtime and decreased customer satisfaction.
Keep datacenter complexity in check:
Versatility and functionality does not have to equal complexity when it comes to your data center. Steps you can take to minimize complexity while maximizing operational
e ciency within your facility include:
Implement deduplication where applicable to help cope with increasing amounts of data: The rise of connected devices in today’s society has been putting an unprecedented strain on data centers which is only going to get worse in the future. Without deduplication, you will be forced into constantly purchasing new hardware while battling limited capacity.
Understand the implications of IT systems: By understanding the business functionality your systems are providing to clients, you can get a better idea of what needs to be done to address their needs.
Build an information responsible culture: By creating a culture of responsibility within your company, sta in all departments can capture more synergies across the organization and improve operations.
When you are looking to maximize capacity on your servers, using a container solution such as Docker is ideal because it allows containers to share core program les.
If you are running a project where rapid recovery times are critical to the project, virtualization has an advantage because it allows administrators to switch to fallback systems on the y to keep downtime to a minimum.
Since Docker containers share core application les, they don’t provide the same level of security as traditional virtual machines. Although the risk of a process breakout is small, it still can happen3.
Not Considering Long Term Needs It can be tempting to choose systems and technologies based on the sticker price, however this common mistake can have devastating consequences. What initially seems like a bargain can cost you in the long run. Hidden costs such as: energy usage, hardware replacement and training costs are some of the biggest issues you can face by choosing the wrong hardware.
Some questions you should ask before purchasing hardware include:
What equipment will the device be interacting with? You should make sure that the hardware you choose is compatible with products from other vendors used in your datacenter.
How energy e cient is the equipment? By focusing on using equipment which runs cooler and consumes less energy you can save on utility costs in the long run.
Docker. (2014, November 15). Security - Docker Documentation. Retrieved from https://docs.docker.com/articles/security/ What operating systems will the hardware run on? Although predicting the exact hardware speci cations of future operating systems is impossible, in general Linux optimized systems shouldn’t run Windows and vice versa.
Does the equipment support virtualized workloads? Virtualization is one of the most cost e ective ways to improve your datacenter capacity while still keeping overhead at manageable levels. With the rise of cloud computing, virtualization support is almost a must for any datacenter.
In addition to the previously mentioned aspects, capacity is another topic to consider. Although it’s impossible to precisely predict future capacity needs, you can streamline your planning analysis process by implementing a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution for your facility.
Regardless of the stage of your project, a DCIM solution can help you to maximize your pro t per square foot whether you’re building a new facility or are streamlining an existing structure.
Choosing Products without Considering Integration Capabilities Vendor lock in is the worst enemy of virtually every information technology professional because in today’s rapidly changing world, it is impossible for one solution to address every challenge a data center professional faces. Customers also are increasingly demanding exible systems because on their end, they need the ability to interface remote systems with on premise solutions and vice versa.
In order to ensure that your data center is embracing open principles, you should keep the following
principles in mind before purchasing equipment:
Data center infrastructure needs to be modular: By breaking down deployment tasks into manageable pieces by following lean principles, system administrators can make changes rapidly while keeping complexity in check.
Infrastructure is typically built around open APIs: With APIs, instead of limiting permissions to selected accounts, applications are able to have the permissions they need for the jobs at hand.
The three biggest areas pertaining to improving awareness within the data center include:
Providing alerts to internal and external stakeholders about maintinance which can trigger an outage Implementing monitoring systems across the datacenter so that sta can spot trouble before it occurs. When downtime occurs, the monitoring systems also can be used to pinpoint the source(s) of the problem.
Providing sta with easy to use software so they can rapidly act on intelligence Aside from implementing monitoring systems within your facility, using a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution also can improve e ciency by providing sta with additional information to improve operations.
From capacity management to clarifying the relationship between devices on your network and allowing sta to access critical metrics form a central system, a DCIM greatly improve performance while helping to keep costs down.
General Best Practices for Datacenter Professionals
One of the best ways to avoid mistakes is to ensure sta feel free to admit when they make one, rather than having to trudge along. By accepting mistakes as they are made, they can be corrected immediately.
Once sta are comfortable with addressing mistakes as soon as they arise, documenting the steps leading up to and after the mistake is crucial to preventing issues down the road. By compiling a “lessons learned” le, sta can avoid making the same errors later on.
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