The data center can have a wide array of foot prints. Centers have grown over the decades from small closets, operating in corners of office buildings, to large multi floor buildings with the only function of housing the computing equipment. Based on company size and needs, centers can range from large ware house size enterprise data centers to small cage footprints in a larger colocation center. With many highly advanced building monitoring systems being utilized by data centers today to operate, nearly all aspects of the center can monitored, and sometimes operated, by viewing one monitor screen. With this in mind my focus is on a topic that can easily be forgotten in this high tech industry, the human aspect. No matter how high tech or how much money we put into a program, they will never be all encompassing and eliminate the need to go out and visually inspect the various facets of the data center. I feel that over the course of time, however, we have come to rely on our technology and the advantages of physically looking at something have been neglected.
Taking the time to look at various components of a data center can often bring up issues before they become larger problems. At the current colocation center that I work at one has to walk across the raised floor to get to the power rooms. By going to the power room I can check to see that the freight elevator lobby and customer staging area are clean and picked up. I will notice if any customer on site has any issues that I can address and help them with. I can also check on the operation of all the CRAC units as I walk by. The benefits of walking the site you work at will soon become evident as soon as you start the practice, however, making effective tours a routine part of your day can be challenging at first without proper planning.
Have a plan. Think about what you need to look at and inspect. If you have a large site, break it up into separate tours. Chose specific times and days that you will go and do your tour. By having it a part of your schedule it is more likely to be done instead of forgotten. Making a tour route will give you direction as you walk the site and ensure all areas you need to look over get looked over.
Take some logs. Giving yourself a task and direction on a site tour will help ensure it gets done and also provide you with other useful information. Find information that can help you with operating the site that you cannot get from your building management system. A good example would be locally installed temperature sensors on the raised floor. You can then use this information to make improvements to the site.
Whether it’s a small enterprise center or a large multi building colocation center you work at, making site tours a routine job duty will have numerous benefits. Even with the most sophisticated monitoring systems available, the physical site tour is still unsurpassed.