Risky Business: Mitigating Uncertainty in Data Center Design and Maintenance

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In our daily lives, we can (and often must) make decisions on the fly, with minimal information. We will quickly choose the path with least resistance i.e. risk, and the results are benign. Risk

The same, however, does not typically apply in our professional lives, hardly ever in a commercial data center and certainly not in a government data center.

Government agencies are subject to more pressure than the private sector, with stricter budgets, mandated efficiency and absolute security. So taking an uninformed risk is unacceptable.

Instead we need to follow a decision-making process that ensures proper risk assessment and thereby, risk management. From gathering information and weighing out the options to selection and action.


Assess and Build

When building data centers, there are some overall guidelines and standards set forth by industry organizations, but government data centers must take it even further — considering the facility’s design and maintenance tradeoff when evaluating investment and risk.

Risk assessment begins in the design phase and includes: optimal site location, identifying IT needs, evaluating what risks should be mitigated, eliminated or accepted and designing the facility infrastructure around these factors.

Once the IT needs are evaluated and risk appetite identified, data center builders can determine whether a traditional or prefabricated build will best suit their needs.


Minimize by Maintaining

Once the facility is built, ongoing maintenance and disaster recovery plans should be implemented. This is where compliance also comes into play. data center dark light

Unlike commercial data centers, federal data center facilities must adhere to very specific regulations such as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the more recent Executive Order 13514 that details sustainability goals.

Solutions like uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) are a relatively easy place to start, reducing costs while increasing efficiency when centralizing and optimizing existing technology to fit into new budget requirements and meet power reduction goals.

Modern UPS systems can offer efficiencies upwards of 96 percent which reduces power consumption and cooling demand and saves money. But keep in mind, since downtime for many agencies is unthinkable, it is often significantly less expensive to commit upfront costs to mitigating the risk of downtime with robust systems, than it is to spend resources recovering from an event.

And for preventing disastrous events, comprehensive preparedness plans should consist of preparation and prevention, detection and incident classification, response, mitigation and recovery — written and regularly updated as appropriate.

Big data and digital demand is making our complex world of federal data centers even more complicated and riskier, but you can reduce the uncertainties through proper design and maintenance.

See our whitepaper, Data Center Projects: System Planning for more details on addressing these challenges.

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