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DCA REVIEW Operational


keep them running. The important thing to remember is that whilst design is important, it only happens once (usually!)- but the data centre will be operating every hour of every day for a couple of decades. That represents a huge amount of potential for problems to occur.

The DCA has recognised the importance of data centre operations and set up a specialist group to look at operational excellence. Data centres are complex systems comprising of many different classes of critical equipment, but there are many excellent examples of facilities that are extremely well run and that do not (or at the very least are doing everything possible to ensure that they do not) suffer outages. A typical characteristic of well-run data centre is that they have relatively flat operations organisations.

By that, I mean that the team that operates and maintains the data centres critical systems are all well-trained, well-skilled and well-motivated. The data centres that have one or two “heroes” who know everything and a team of untrained drones are the ones at risk. Another key characteristic is quality of documentation, backed up by robust processes. Running a data centre 24 hours

a day, 365 days a year, without unplanned outages, requires a very slick operational regime. The critical systems in a data centre comprise of a multitude of sub-systems, each of which will require some form of regular (if infrequent) maintenance. Having well thought out and understood processes for planned, preventative maintenance is vital for ensuring the resilience and security of data centres. The same goes for the processes that govern actions when things start to go wrong (crisis management), or for those things that just need to happen on an ad-hoc basis (change management).

Most professionals in the data centre industry understand that operational excellence can be achieved by all data centres, but that many operators have room for improvement. Historically, the focus has been on design and construction. The DCA is fully behind making sure that operations remains at the forefront of the data centre agenda. Many data centres are extremely well run, but most have had to learn how to do this from scratch.

The DCA will be trying to make sure that all data centre operators can benefit from the best practices built up over decades of

Keysource approved as auditor for DCA data centre certification scheme

KEYSOURCE, the leading data centre design and build specialist, has been approved as an official auditor for the DCA Data Centre Certification Scheme. The announcement builds on the work that Keysource has already done as members of the DCA in special interest and steering groups. Keysource has been a full partner of the DCA since 2013.

The industry-led DCA scheme provides a trusted quality mark which verifies facilities’ compliance and provides greater clarity for buyers and specifiers. It identifies and verifies four key areas of a facility, namely resilience, physical site security, energy efficiency credentials, and operational professionalism. The formal Certifications are made by independent experts, and projects are checked annually. The scheme provides transparent as well as affordable verification of data centres, in a way that can be easily understood by all stakeholders. Mike West, Managing Director at Keysource: “Our approval as auditors for the DCA scheme

fits perfectly with our ongoing commitment to designing and delivering highly efficient infrastructures in business-critical environments safely, and in line with industry best practice.”

Keysource already has a number of Uptime Institute Accredited Designers within the business as well as being an active endorser of the EU Code of Conduct, so is keenly aware of what it takes to design facilities to meet exacting industry standards.

Justin Busk, Head of Safety, Health and Environment at Keysource, added: “The approval of Keysource as auditors means we can play an active role supporting organisations as they prepare to enter this valuable Certification scheme. It’s a natural fit and valuable addition to our range of professional services, which include specialist consultancy for safety, health, environment and compliance. We are fully behind this joined-up Certification initiative.” DCA President Steve Norris said “I’d like to

experience. Inevitably, this will not mean dictating a single way of doing things, but sharing the characteristics of operational excellence so that data centre owners and operators can adapt the industry’s best practices to their own particular circumstances. There is also much to be learnt from the IT industry and other professional areas – surgeons, for example, followed the airline industry in adopting manual checklists and this has had a measurable impact on surgical outcomes.

The IT industry has ITIL, developed to manage service delivery, which has many useful features that could be extended into the engineering and facilities worlds. In 2015, the DCA will publish an agenda for its operational excellence specialist group. This will lay out the plan for how the DCA will help its members define its own plans for developing the skills, training programmes and knowledge sharing that will be required.

There is a lot to do in terms of encouraging operational excellence throughout the industry, but the good news is that many of the operators in the market are already running excellent facilities and are open to sharing their experience.

congratulate Keysource on this achievement, I know it is a demanding and stringent process we have laid down, I’m delighted that this highlights Keysource’s experience and expertise as one of the UK’s truly World Class data centre companies.”

DCA Chairman Adriaan Oosthoek added “I’m delighted Keysource’s commitment to quality throughout their organisation has been recognised by the DCA, Keysource brings added depth to the Certifications scheme which will in turn strengthen the data centres role in underpinning the growth and security of our digital world.”

February 2015 I 19

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