There are numerous mission critical elements to all data centers, and regular maintenance is integral to minimizing downtime and keeping all mission critical systems running. Arguably, it is best to take a top-down approach when itemizing which data center components are most integral to successful operations. The redundancies and numerous automated facility support systems as well as interdependent operations need to be addressed for viability before downtime, or in some instances permanent data loss occurs.
It is also important to note that optimal data center construction and maintenance can provide some of the top results for data center owners. Recent research by technology research firm Gartner suggests that most current data centers will be obsolete in less than 10 years. Others argue that the lifespan of the average fully-functional data center may be as little five years. Maintenance, testing, and general spring cleaning can help increase the lifespan of almost any data center substantially.
Spring Cleaning Checklist For Data Centers
Below is a simple, itemized checklist for what items should be addressed when maintaining data centers.
ü Specialized Testing of the Facility
It is almost always more cost-effective to invest in specialized testing of data center systems in order to adequately repair or maintain mechanical devices and hardware that is integrated with critical operations than to wait until several operations have been damaged or failed.
Specialized testing can also help identify if additional redundancies are necessary due to data center growth or potential overuse of the larger power grid the data center is connected to. In addition, facility roll-over testing can accurately identify if all backup systems will be fully functional in the event of a power surge or full power outage.
Generators and Power Supply – Power surges and power outages can be adequately addressed with redundancies. However, all automated generators that provide an alternative power source need to be fully-functional and work in conjunction with alarm systems. In addition, load bank testing can ensure that all generators are functioning at a normal capacity.
Infrared Thermography Testing and Troubleshooting – Infrared thermography testing can identify atypically warm or cool areas throughout a data center. The cause of the temperature change can be traced back to components that were not properly installed, electrical issues, or overloads, or loose circuits.
Specialized HVAC Testing and Installation – HVAC testing and design for data centers is integral to supporting basic functions and extending the lifespan of all mechanical components. Optimal temperatures ensure that hardware does not melt or crack, and optimal humidity reduces the risk of corrosion as well as other types of damage.
Testing and troubleshooting is the first step to identifying which data center components need to be repaired or replaced. Other components can be replaced or removed for increased space.
ü Replacements and Installations
Routine replacements of inadequate or semi-functional components and installation of new components can help extend the lifespan of data centers as well as offer increased security. In addition, routine replacement and installations by data center experts can further ensure that downtime due to various types of interruption is less likely.
Battery Replacement – Battery failure is the leading cause of system downtime due to UPS load loss. A single bad battery in an entire string can cause system failure during a power surge or power outage. Low quality batteries can have substantial consequences for data centers, and they are one of the most important elements to regularly replace.
Additional Power Redundancies – Large data centers located away from main power grids may experience the need for new generators and other sources for power redundancies. New developments can put strain on an existing power grid, or planned infrastructure could jeopardize the viability of current power plans for data centers. Utility companies often need to be contacted by data centers that consume a notable amount of electricity in order to continually and accurately assess available resources.
ü Optimizing Usable Space
Secure data disposal is necessary after a certain point in time. Data racks should not be cleared haphazardly due to potential ramifications with interruption of optimal airflow or other concerns associated with physically altering the design of the data center. One of the easiest ways to increase usable space is to get rid of trays that are no longer in use. It is of the utmost importance to dispose of data securely and properly in order to protect the integrity of the data center as well as personal information stored that is no longer in use.
Different Needs For Tier 1 Data Centers and Tier 4 Data Centers
Spring cleaning for data centers can be highly dependent on the type of data center as the consequences of downtime can vary substantially. Similarly, the consequences of a breach can also vary substantially. A Tier 4 data center on a military base is a prime example of a data center that would likely need extensive testing and maintenance for optimal security and function.
However, a small municipality might have a Tier 1 data center due to limited needs and limited funds. Downtime for a Tier 1 data center may not be especially detrimental, and off-site servers can be used as a form of redundancy to ensure that critical operations are not interrupted, such as emergency response for citizens.
How to Approach Data Center Spring Cleaning
Work with a team of experts to best approach data center spring cleaning from all necessary angles. Instead of guessing what might be fine for another year, be confident that all systems are fully-functional. Optimize space, install necessary new components, and maintain existing components to prolong the lifespan of data centers.