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— Blog

In Data Center Operations, People Make the Difference

Steve Wencis, Director, Technical Operations
september 21, 2017

Much has been made lately of the technological innovations that have caused a revolution in data center operations. The increased prevalence of virtualization across data center environments means that much of the physical infrastructure that used to define the data center is now migrating to the “cloud”. That migration of many of the physical aspects of data center functions seems to be commensurate with a rise in the mystification of data centers, the cloud and how they both operate.

That fact is that data center operations aren’t magic, and things don’t just run themselves. People play a huge role in their successful operation, and in turn, the ability of their customers to maintain business continuity and reach their goals. As several recent incidents have underlined, it’s important to remember the critical role that people play in data center operations.

There have been several high-profile outages in data centers around the world recently, with some fairly far-reaching consequences. The overriding theme from these outages has been that while it is still possible for hardware to fail, the root cause of these outages and failures is usually due to some level of human error.

In May of 2017, an engineer wrongly disconnected a power supply at a data center near London’s Heathrow airport, causing British Airways’ London business to come to a screeching halt for a number of hours. 75,000 passengers were stranded on the ground and it is estimated that the error cost the airline well over $100 million. Though the engineer was authorized to be on site, he was not authorized to disconnect power. This event ought to provide a valuable lesson that things happen that are not anticipated because humans sometimes do the unexpected.

An article from Data Center Knowledge rightly points out that failures within data centers are primarily a direct result of people and/or process issues. But with a governance model that includes the right people in place who have been trained in critical awareness and site specific procedures, unexpected events can be minimized.

Our record of five nines is just one example that displays our commitment to honing these processes. It shows each individual staff member’s attention to detail and commitment to excellence. For ten years running, Digital Realty’s data centers have operated at an industry-leading 99.999% uptime. That means that our customers can rely on us to support their business and its objectives, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With human error and poor infrastructure management being the leading causes of data center downtime, I wanted to call attention to Digital Realty’s remarkable uptime record and point out the fact that this is not a coincidence. Though backups are always in place, our people are our first line of defense when it comes to our data center operations. Are you curious about how Digital Realty could become a valued partner for your business? Learn more about our data center solutions.

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