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Best-in-class field service software can spell crunch time for data centre downtime

Kieran Le Peron
June 17, 2021
5 min. read

Outages remain a major concern for the data centre industry, despite improving technology and better management of availability. Around 70% of data centre outages are directly attributable to human error according to the Uptime Institute’s analysis of its abnormal incident reporting (AIR) database.   Bad operational practices are five times more likely to negatively impact a data centre than any other cause (Uptime Institute). Frequent or severe incidents can have a significant impact on a data centre’s capital expenditure and operational expenditure costs. According to UK-based one-stop data centre services provider Infiniti around 40% of system failures could have been avoided with regular preventative maintenance.   The Uptime Institute states that data centre operational excellence is in large part about maintaining discipline and consistency over time, as well as constantly adapting to changes in the environment, and that proper maintenance is the cornerstone of any data centre’s health. Performing preventive maintenance and having measures in place to address malfunctions, can improve data centre reliability.   Data centre maintenance involves keeping the components and environment of the data centre well preserved and in excellent health (Infiniti). Maintenance spans the hardware, building and hosted equipment. Field service management software can support companies that carry out data centre operations and maintenance (O&M) activity in delivering a best-in-class service, which helps to maximise data centre uptime, in multiple ways. Here’s how:

Optimise O&M across all elements of the data centre service level agreement (SLA)

Data centre SLAs address all the key infrastructure elements and service metrics, such as power, temperature and network availability and can offer a 100% uptime guarantee, focused on the critical services. For example, for power the SLA can include an uptime commitment for redundant power (A+B power), for temperature the SLA can include a commitment to maintain an average ambient room temperature, usually controlled using computer room air conditioning (CRAC) and for network bandwidth, the SLA may offer a guaranteed uptime on network availability to the data centre’s clients.   SLA metrics addressing uptime guarantees can be achieved through enhancing the productivity of field service teams of technicians and engineers that carry out various types of data centre O&M activity.  

Help technicians hit higher productivity rates

With mobile field service software managers and dispatch staff can easily organise and update the schedules of each technician. The software uses powerful data analytics to optimise schedules quickly, easing route planning, reducing overall travel time and mileage that minimises travel time between jobs, so that technicians can complete their work orders more quickly, which means any data centre downtime can be reduced.   Field service management software platforms include a mobile field service app that can be viewed on smartphone or other handheld device, to ensure technicians have access to map-assisted scheduling, with features such as a search function to find the nearest available field resource and simpler stock management for spare parts.  

Support SLA development to enhance delivery of service

Advanced field service management software can allow providers of data centre O&M services to track performance against SLA metrics in real time, providing insight into how to improve or enhance responsiveness of the field service team, helping to deliver a better service aimed at reducing downtime.  

Ensure data security

A key issue for data centre operators is data security. FSM software supports e-security system asset management, integrating with enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs), storing key information, by using APIs that always act passively. Since requests are initiated by the information system to the field service management software, risk of network violation is eliminated.

Standardise processes and deliver consistency in a changing industry

The data centre industry is constantly adapting to offer new network and storage solutions, which impacts the type of IT infrastructure deployed. Data centre facilities’ functionality spans provision of uninterrupted power, cooling, network and space resource to IT servers, storage, and networking equipment. Increasingly, data centres are viewed as mission-critical infrastructure because these facilities are so heavily relied upon 24/7 by businesses across various sectors, public sector organisations and other agencies.   However, maintaining this infrastructure effectively to minimise downtime and interruptions is made more complex due to changes, such as the shift from siloed IT services running on dedicated, specialised equipment to an architecture in which more IT functions run on standard IT systems, often distributed or replicated across many sites (Uptime Institute).   As a result, data centre operators and the specialised service providers that carry out O&M are facing challenges to expand their infrastructure and improve services for end customers.  

Give technicians the information they need to complete O&M tasks successfully

Advanced cloud-based maintenance software and job management software elements deployed in field service management solutions are designed to give field service teams easy access to any relevant information needed to complete work orders. Equipment maintenance software can be updated in real time with all types of new information and data, from documents, diagrams, maps, images, videos, previous service history, instructions and other information, so that engineers and technicians are empowered to successfully complete work orders in the shortest time possible and be on their way to the next site.

Choosing the right field service management software can help protect bottom line

In Uptime’s 2020 annual survey, 75% of respondents said their most recent downtime could have been prevented with better management or processes — another way of looking at the role of human decision-making and actions.   When third-party data centre service providers do have an outage, customers are immediately affected and may seek compensation and a full explanation leading to need for increased visibility, accountability, and improved service level agreements (SLAs), especially for cloud services, according to Uptime Institute.   Downtime that is the result of poor maintenance has financial implications for providers. Using top field service management software to deliver highly effective O&M programmes for data centres can help to maximise data centre uptime and provide resiliency for these mission-critical assets.