Debunking data centre myths: Operations

Remember that scene from the Matrix where Keanu Reeves emerges from his jellied pod, surrounded by tens of thousands of similar pods. Or all those times Jack Bauer disappeared to the CTU server room in 24 to discover or hide some misdeeds. What I remember of those scenes is how under-staffed those places were. Who was running them? Who was making sure they kept running as designed? (I know, of all the things to be pedantic about.) They should have used a data centre.

You see, data centres are not simply great big storage bunkers for servers. There’s a whole lot more to them than that. We’re here to debunk the myths around data centre operations.

Myth debunked no. 1: Data centres are more than just sheds for servers

Calling a data centre just a shed is like calling a farm just a field. There’s a whole lot more to farming than giving space to some cows, and a data centre is a lot more than storage for servers.

This kind of equipment has specific needs. Power, cooling, connectivity, security – all 24/7, all at a much higher spec than you would see in a typical commercial building, and all highly reliable.

Keeping the data centre – and your servers – running at maximum performance without interruption requires sophisticated technologies and a lot of redundancy planning. Redundancies like multiple, geographically diverse, network connections into the building, so that if someone’s construction project accidentally digs through wiring on one end of the street, there are alternatives to pick up the slack. The same goes for power. We have backup power storage and generators to ensure we never have a power outage. All our systems are carefully monitored so that if anything does look likely to cause a problem we can plan around it. All this is a full-time operation, and not something you can just leave running on its own. Which brings me to myth no. 2…

Myth debunked no. 2: Data centre staff are IT experts. And the site is never empty.

Perhaps this misconception around staffing at data centres arises from stories such as this: After Facebook went down for almost 6 hours in 2021, The Guardian reported that ‘there were multiple reports the social media giant sent a technical team out to its servers in California to manually reset the servers where the problem originated’. This suggests there were no staff onsite at this data centre who could reset the servers.

Whether or not that story is true, that is not a viable business model for commercial data centres. Who would be happy to pay to house their most precious assets in a building staffed by people who don’t know the first thing about them? Or in a building that is largely unstaffed? No one.

That’s why we employ skilled engineers and we invest in regular, ongoing training. We don’t just have security onsite 24/7, we have engineers there all the time too, and we’re capable of a whole lot more than just ‘turning it off and on again’. Our engineers are grouped into specialised teams so that they can really develop their expertise and offer optimum support to all our customers, whatever the issue they are facing, day or night.

Myth debunked no. 3: Data centres are not all the same

Data centres are operated in different places, different climates, offering different services and with different promises on reliability (the tier system – explained here). They are not all the same. Imagine, for example, what it takes to keep servers cool in Dubai compared to Iceland. Imagine the difference operating a data centre in a city centre compared to a more remote location. That’s not to say that one will perform better than the other, but there will be different operational challenges that need to be mitigated. Likewise, you will find that some data centres suit your business better than others – perhaps because of location, or the connectivity offering, or their industry specialism, or even because their sustainability performance aligns with your environmental goals.

Your partner, all the time

Choosing the right data centre for your business is not a decision you should take lightly, but one that should be carefully researched to make sure their operational approach meets your needs. At the end of the day, your chosen data centre plays a key role in the success of your business, as a partner, a constant support, and an enabling force for development. Choose wisely.

If you’re interested in working with a leading UK data centre partner, please feel free to explore our services on our website, or get in touch with one of our experts.

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