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4 Steps Toward Smoother Data Center Operation

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As any facility manager who works with technology knows, managing and maintaining a business's data center can present tremendous challenges. Slow emergency response times, costly wastes of energy, and inefficient maintenance practices can all put a crimp in your ability to provide data for your company smoothly and sustainably. Here are four steps you can take to optimize your data center's performance.

1. Power Audits

How much energy does your data center use, and how efficiently does it use it? If you've never run the numbers by conducting a power audit, you could be burning more energy than necessary without realizing it. This not only places a burden on your company's overhead, but it also contributes to the accumulation of waste heat, which in turn can prove destructive to your gear.

You want to measure two different types of electrical load, steady and variable. A steady load is one that remains constant, such as a lamp that always draws exactly the same number of watts. A variable load changes over time in response to the demands placed on the device. In addition to measuring the energy drawn by heat-generating items, evaluate those items that remove waste heat from the air (such as your HVAC system). Once you have all this information, your engineering team can determine exactly where you need more efficient components or processes.

2. Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance, not preventative maintenance, is the new standard for getting optimal productivity out of a data center. Preventative maintenance will certainly help your data center keep running, but it isn't the most efficient way to do so. That's because a set maintenance schedule for multiple items and systems rarely takes the exact specs and behaviors of all those bits and pieces into account.

For instance, you may be changing all your light bulbs every three years like clockwork, when some of them could actually be expected to last 10 years (and others have already burned out).

Predictive maintenance is more efficient because it relies on automated systems that tell you exactly when each item on your checklist should be addressed. Sophisticated software platforms can mine data from your automated control systems to keep track of the past behaviors of all those gadgets and devices, so you'll never replace a part too early or too late again!

3. Environmental Control

Most hardware lifecycle management companies will tell you that heat, humidity, dust, and other environmental variables can shorten the useful life of your expensive electronics. Your first line of defense in protecting these components is your data center's HVAC system. Moldy ducts, clogged filters, low freon levels, and other barriers to proper HVAC performance can contribute to fatal overheating, forcing you to shell out for expensive and frequent replacements.

Consider HVAC maintenance a crucial part of your overall data center hardware maintenance plan. Schedule regular inspections, filter changes, compression testing, and other routine maintenance chores to keep your air cool and relatively dust free. If your HVAC unit is old and outmoded, it may need to be replaced by a more efficient model.

4. Instant Response Mechanisms

Did you know that businesses lose an average of $5,600 per minute due to data center downtime? If you don't ever want to verify those numbers through personal experience, then you need to make sure your data center has built-in early response systems. Smart options include:

  • Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)—UPS devices attached to your hardware can help prevent shutdowns due to an unexpected loss of electricity. This steady supply of power not only lets your systems keep on humming without costly pauses to reboot, but it also protects the delicate circuitry inside the components. 
  • Building-wide backup and alert systems—Even with UPS devices installed, you'll need to deal with power outages as quickly as possible, before the auxiliary power to these devices runs out. An automated backup generator can play a crucial role in feeding your data center whatever power it needs until the primary electrical source comes back online. Alert systems that trigger emergency distress calls can put your maintenance team on the job immediately, saving precious minutes.

Take care of your data center, and your data center will take care of your business. Talk to a data center hardware maintenance provider about implementing some of these sensible strategies in your facility. Contact maintenance providers through resources like