Oct 15, 2013

Stay cool: The data center design that prevents lost revenue, unhappy customers


Recently, my apartment building here in Atlanta experienced a water leakage issue. In order to fix it, the building maintenance sent a notification that they needed to shut off the water supply to the entire building for a few hours. What they failed to mention was that the air conditioning doesn’t work without the water supply. So that morning, I woke up sweating thanks to no AC and 90 degree temperatures. I’m told that the water and the AC will be back on in a few hours. But very quickly, “a few hours” turned into an entire day and the whole night as well. The problem wasn’t fixed by the next morning, either. So there I was, with no water and no AC, sweating in the hot, humid weather of Atlanta for more than 24 hours.

All types of equipment and systems require fixing occasionally, or need preventative maintenance so that they don’t break. I just wish that my building had a way to help me avoid that experience.

This type of frustration is similar to the pain that customers, employees and partners go through when business-critical services and applications go down. Even if your AC still works, you may break into a sweat when you start quantifying the pain in terms of dollars lost as a result of the outage. You can avoid that pain and lost revenue by choosing a data center for your IT equipment that is concurrently maintainable.

What is concurrent maintainability?
It is a design standard that keeps critical IT equipment running when one component fails or needs to be shut down for maintenance (tweet this). How does it work? By creating two parallel systems that work independently, with no single points of failure and at least two distribution paths. If a critical component in one system goes down, the other system can take over irrespective of where the fault lies.

data center design that prevents lost revenue
Concurrent maintainability means having at least two of every component in a system, connected in such a way that power or cooling to the IT equipment is never interrupted. This is much better than bypassing the failed/shut down components, which exposes the equipment to unconditioned power. Internap’s state-of-the-art New York Metro data center is a great example of a concurrently maintainable facility.

Components within a system rely on each other to function properly, which is why the AC in my building went down when the water supply was turned off. Concurrently maintainable design reduces the risk of this happening in your data center. Continuing with the analogy, it’s like having a parallel water supply, power feed and AC unit for your residence.

data center design that prevents lost revenue

Building another independent system may cost more, but it’s worth it when compared to the damaging effects of customer dissatisfaction and lost dollars on your business. Even though my apartment building wasn’t designed with concurrent maintainability, your data center should be.

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