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What data centres can learn from the airline industry


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As is often the case, different sectors can cross over in a number of ways, despite their varying expertise. Industries can often learn from each other, and for me the airline industry is the one to look closely at in terms of inspiration for data centre improvements.

Many years ago, a certain Irish entrepreneur looked at an industry that was bloated, inefficient and expensive, and tore up the rule book. You may argue that he was not the first: who remembers Freddie Laker? But his timing was impeccable, aligning with the IT revolution perfectly. He redefined every aspect of the process of flying, and where possible, he removed it! If it’s not core he charges for it, and if it is core he demands efficiency. Love or hate his company, his contribution has forced the whole airline industry to sit up and take note.

And as an onlooker assessing the techniques being used within another sector, I see the relevance of this approach to data centre management. Like an airline, data centre efficiency is a must, and offerings must be flexible enough to fit a customer’s individual requirements. And then there’s the issue of availability, where 99% is not good enough. Do you want to be in a plane representing the 1%? Using simple systems and stripping unnecessary add-ons can reduce costs and increase efficiency, and our data centres have done just that, producing excellent levels of resilience at the same time. The airline in question runs one of the youngest aircraft fleets on the market, all from a single manufacturer, making its fleet the most efficient. And this investment in efficiency has in turn resulted in savings in three cost areas: fuel, maintenance and staff. As a Data Centre Manager, I can attest to the fact that the same theory holds true in data centres – invest effectively, simplify where possible, and costs will decrease while reliability improves.



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