Seemingly overnight, COVID-19 elevated data centers from resources to utilities. While global financial markets have been severely and negatively impacted by the pandemic, that shock would have cut much deeper were it not for workers’ and students’ abilities to carry on from home. There is widespread agreement that remote work will continue for a long time and, in many cases, is here to stay.
Data centers today serve a utilitarian role. Just as assuredly as we expect the lights to come on when we flick the switch, we expect to be able to connect to online content, classrooms, and corporate networks on demand and without fail. Yet, according to the Uptime Institute’s (UI) 2020 Global Data Center Survey, outages continue to occur with disturbing frequency, and the bigger outages are becoming more damaging and expensive.
The No. 1 cause of unscheduled downtime is human error. The UI survey also showed that three-quarters of operators admit that, in hindsight, most outages were preventable. With more attention and some simple measures put in place to maintain operations, outage frequency would almost certainly fall significantly.
One basic and simple way to minimize human error is the good old checklist. While that may sound simplistic, think of how critical checklists are to the military, nuclear energy industry, surgeries, aviation, and other industries.
In our multitasking, distracted world, the simple task of checking a box creates consistency, eliminates mistakes, and ensures that steps are followed and processes are completed. This pays dividends in the data center environment. In our technology-based industry, checklists live on handheld digital devices, ideally with two-step authentication and validation for critical steps on a given checklist. This structure all but guarantees the efficacy and reliability of a host of data center operational processes.