Essential Elements of Data Center Facility Operations

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Operations & Maintenance Program Essentials for Mission Critical Facilities



Despite the growing trend of increasing system intelligence and automation capabilities, every data center today still needs to rely on effective operation, maintenance, and management by well-trained, organized human beings.  This program of operations and maintenance (O&M) plays a critical role in how successful a data center is in meeting its design goals and objectives.  A well designed, implemented, and maintained program minimizes risk, reduces costs, and can even offer the business a real competitive advantage.  A poorly organized program, on the other hand, can quickly undermine the design intent of the facility putting its people, IT, and the business itself at risk of harm or interruption. So to help people in this longest and costliest phase of the data center life cycle, Senior Director of Global Data Center Services, Bob Woolley, has just co-authored a new white paper with me titled, “Essential Elements of Data Center Facility Operations”.  The purpose of the paper is to help Facility Ops teams either build a new O&M program or perform an evaluation or gap analysis on an existing program.


The foundation and starting point of a good program is to have a team of operators and management who embrace and embody a “mission critical mentality”.  Managing a data center is fundamentally different from managing other types of facilities.  Failure is truly not an option.  Some liken it to “maintaining an airplane while it’s flying”.  Successfully operating in this type of environment requires a unique mindset that is summarized by the following attributes…


  • Focused on risk mitigation in all operations and maintenance activities, work processes, and procedures
  • Acts with confidence and patience which results from careful planning and preparation
  • Analytical, process-driven approach to risk avoidance and problem solving
  • Comprehensive understanding of the function and interconnectedness of facility systems and components
  • Commitment to continuous learning and process improvement


With this philosophy in place, Facility teams will be in a much better position to successfully implement and manage an effective O&M program throughout the course of the data center’s life cycle.


Most of this new white paper, however, is about the 12 essential elements that make up an effective program.  This includes items such as emergency preparedness and response, performance monitoring and review, as well as the management of maintenance/change activities, quality, documentation, personnel, training, DCIM, energy, and finance.  Each of these items is described in terms of their role and scope, and practical tips are given as to how an element should be structured and managed.  I encourage anyone involved in the operations of a data center facility to check out this paper.


Some of you who look at Schneider Electric in the traditional sense of being a designer and manufacturer of infrastructure components and systems might be surprised to see us involved in the operations and management of facilities.  With a mission to “make your data center available, efficient, and safe throughout its life cycle”, Schneider Electric is actually the global leader in being a life cycle services provider.  Our Data Center Services business unit contains many decades of experience planning, designing, commissioning, building and operating some of the world’s most critical data center facilities.  So you can look forward to seeing more helpful life cycle services-related content like this white paper in the near future.


  • Alastair Trower

    11 years ago

    One area that is often overlooked is fuel quality in backup environments. Due to recent environmental changes in fuel production, diesel can no longer sit for months. This became painfully clear during Hurricane Sandy where many emergency power system failed due to water in fuel and contamination associated with microbial activity. Puritas Energy advocate adopting an active fuel management strategy. For more information hit

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