News

Data Center Services
September 29, 2006

By Staff
Appeared in Processor

If the perfect data center existed, you can be sure it would get by with a little help from its friends. This is where data center services come in. Many of the different services, offered by a myriad of companies, are critical in almost every small to midsized enterprise. But do you know what services are available and which ones are the right fit for your data center? Data center services actually help IT managers and CIOs do their jobs better, can save the company money, and improve productivity and uptime. Let’s take a look at the following types of services: data center cleaning, equipment disposal, design and planning, and power.

Services
According to Jason Roth, national training director for Sterile Environment Technologies (www.set3.com), data center cleaning is a necessary service. Roth says, “Data center cleaning services provide decontamination of microscopic particles that cause downtime to sensitive computer equipment.” He also notes that data center cleaning promotes uptime by reducing the risk of hundreds of destructive elements that cause dust fires, static discharge, head crashes, and other contamination control issues plaguing air-cooled servers. “To the naked eye, a data center is in great condition; however, equipment can be destroyed by contaminants smaller than we can see.”

Kevin Vickery, president of mission-critical services at ProSource Technical Services (www.team-prosource.com), says hardware manufacturers all agree that data center cleaning should be part of a regular maintenance program to provide the best possible environment for their equipment to operate efficiently. He notes, “A good preventive maintenance program will consist of twice to four times per year subfloor cleaning and quarterly to monthly equipment and top-of-the-floor cleanings.”

Morris Scott, vice president of DMD Systems Recovery (www.dmdsystems.com), says equipment disposal is another integral data center service, and many times IT personnel get saddled with peddling old equipment. Scott says, “This is something that they are not used to and can tie up valuable resources that could be used in other, more critical areas.” Scott says DMD has found that outright purchase works best, and prices for equipment should be reviewed each quarter. He notes, “Special items can be purchased at fair market wholesale value. We have found that this works best for reporting and protects your company from liability issues, as ownership is taken at the site where the equipment is picked up.”

Data center planning and design are two services that you should leave to the professionals. Designing and planning a data center can be a complex project, requiring a wide range of expertise. Christopher M. Johnston, critical facilities chief engineer at Syska Hennessy Group (www.syska.com), says his company serves well in this area. “Our involvement with various industry organizations and major network equipment manufacturers gives us insight into new technologies in development, so we can examine our design approach strategically and adjust to new technology trends.”

Powering the data center can also be a daunting task. Having the proper equipment is critical to avoid all kinds of electrical problems and overheating issues. MGE UPS Systems (www.mgeups.com), a power protection equipment manufacturer, is one company that prides itself in data center power service. MGE deals with the entire life cycle of power equipment, from design to commissioning to operation to refurbishment (or replacement). Part of the Liebert (www.liebert.com) business philosophy states that selling power equipment is only half of the protection equation. The company’s Web site states, “Having the ability to service it—wherever and whenever it’s needed—is vital to maintaining the systems availability of our customers.”

What You Need
How should you evaluate whether third-party services are the right choice for your data center? Roth says, “Confirm that the third-party service is continuing with the latest training, certifications, has the proper insurance, and can submit excellent contacts for recommendation. This provides a good start to selecting the right company in the decision process.” Speaking from the equipment disposal perspective, Scott says, “There are several factors to look at: How long have they been in business? Do they have liability insurance? Are they willing to provide you with references that you can call? Do they belong to trade organizations or a Better Business Bureau?”