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Aim to Optimize Your Data Center’s Health This Year

Ryan Wagner •

Know the Four Vital Signs of a Reliable, Efficient Data Center

For many people, the start of a new year is a great time for focusing on improving health and fitness, and the same could be said for data centers. For operators or managers, the new year is an opportune time to evaluate the health and condition of the data center environment.

Just as people have vital signs that provide a picture of overall physical health such as temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, so does your data center. By closely examining the following five areas, you'll gain a solid understanding of the state of your critical infrastructure systems, and you'll see how well your data center is poised to perform in the year ahead.

1. Thermal: How efficient is your data center at keeping its cool? Even the slightest temperature increases can affect reliability of mission-critical equipment. In an average data center, cooling accounts for approximately 40 percent of total energy usage. To ensure availability without breaking the bank, your data center needs a thermal management solution designed to improve cooling efficiency and lower total cost of operations. This solution should also simultaneously preventing critical thermal issues that can disrupt service and lead to downtime.

Today's data center cooling technology such as intelligent controls, sensors, and self-optimizing systems can help you strike the right balance between availability and efficiency. Such systems, when designed, installed and coordinated properly, can automatically respond to conditions in the data center to optimize cooling and improve system reliability while reducing operating costs up to 50 percent. While newer cooling units often come equipped with the latest technology and features, older units can often be upgraded in order to realize the same cost saving and efficiency benefits.

2. Power: Will your power system ensure continuous operations of your business under all foreseeable circumstances? According to the 2016 Costs of Data Center Outages report from the Ponemon Institute and Vertiv, "UPS system failure was the most frequently cited root cause of data center outages and accounted for 25 percent of these events." The costs associated with these outages increased by more than 42 percent between 2010 and 2016 with the average cost, based on just business disruption, being $256,000. Those costs compound when you also consider lost revenue, as well as end-user and IT productivity.

To ensure the most effective delivery of power to your critical data center infrastructure, you need to make sure your data center is equipped with reliable equipment, redundant configurations, and a scalable and flexible power management strategy.

3. Maintenance Plan: Are you identifying and correcting incipient failures before they translate into costly downtime? No matter how advanced your cooling and power equipment, all mission-critical systems include life-limited components, such as batteries, circuit breakers, automatic transfer switches, and protective relays, that will eventually fail. Servicing and maintaining equipment per manufacturers' recommendations can go a long way toward increasing system reliability, and preventing costly failures and downtime.

For example, Vertiv's paper, The Effect of Regular, Skilled Preventive Maintenance on Critical Power System Reliability shows that the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) for UPS units that received two preventive maintenance (PM) service events per year is 23 times higher than a machine with no PM service events per year. That's a big difference. But it is important to keep in mind that PM is only as effective as the technicians performing it. Working with service providers who understand mission-critical data center equipment and who stay up-to-date with their technical training is a critical element of any effective PM plan.

4. DCIM: How are you managing your data center infrastructure to account for change and plan for future needs? A DCIM solution that includes regular monitoring for real-time information can identify vulnerabilities and inefficiencies, and allow you to make the best decisions to operate and maintain your infrastructure. Your DCIM solution is also very valuable is also very valuable in planning for additional capacity that will support maximum efficiency and future growth in your data center.

Aiming to achieve the best possible performance in your data center? Then, kick the year off right by carefully reviewing your data center's mission-critical equipment and maintenance practices. Get the information you need to make smart changes that will improve your data center's health and increase both efficiency and reliability in the year ahead.

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