In Data Centre Operations, People Make the Difference

September 21, 2017
Steve Wencis, Director, Technical Operations

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

That fact is that data centre 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 centre operations.

There have been several high-profile outages in data centres around the world recently, with some fairly far-reaching consequences. The overriding theme from these outages has been that whilst 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 centre 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 Centre Knowledge rightly points out that failures within data centres 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 centres 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 centre 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 centre operations. Are you curious about how Digital Realty could become a valued partner for your business? Learn more about our data centre solutions.

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