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Overcoming Data Center Outages: Safeguarding Your Critical Operations

June 22, 2023

Unplanned data center outages can be more than just inconvenient – they can be financially devastating for data center providers and their customers. A recent survey revealed 60% of data centers reported outages in the past three years, with nearly half of those outages costing between $100,000 and $1 million and one in six experiencing a significant outage event incurring costs exceeding $1 million. To avoid such costly disruptions, data center managers must address the common reasons behind data center failures and implement proactive measures to prevent them.

Understanding the Common Causes of Data Center Outages

  • Human Error: The number one cause of data center downtime is human error. Poor data entry, inconsistent processes, facing too many changes at once that overload maintenance windows, and more all lead to avoidable errors. Careful planning and implementation and the right tools to ensure the recording of only clean, accurate data are crucial to prevent future complications.
  • Insufficient Backup Power: Power loss remains the leading mechanical cause of data center failures. Ensuring backup power reliability availability through regular testing and battery replacements is essential to ensuring service continuity during power outages and other avoid downtime during emergencies.
  • Changes Outside of Maintenance Windows: Making even minor changes without proper protocols can have far-reaching consequences, resulting in unexpected hardware failure, outages, and financial losses.
  • Hoarding Old Hardware: Holding onto outdated equipment well beyond its useful effective life increases the likelihood of failure across your entire system. Measuring your facility’s Facility Condition Index (FCI) and proper capital planning will enable regular hardware updates and utilization of technological advancements in the industry.
  • Cooling Failures: Keeping the data center cool is critical to its operation and uptime. Implementing backup cooling procedures and routine maintenance of cooling systems will help prevent overheating and equipment damage.

Proactive Strategies for Avoiding Overcoming Data Center Failures

Minimize Human Error:

  • Invest in software that standardizes asset classification and information across your entire portfolio and encourages only clean data entry.
  • Train regularly and utilize certification programs that can equip data center staff with the necessary skills and knowledge.
  • Digitize and optimize your maintenance processes using a platform that provides global and local standard operating procedures (SOP) and version control, ensuring everyone has the same clear step-by-step directions for complex tasks.

Prepare for Severe Weather:

  • Develop a comprehensive contingency plan for severe weather events.
  • Deploy procedures for maintaining and testing backup power supplies, redundancies, and other critical assets to mitigate potential power outages.

Prevent Equipment Failure:

  • Schedule and standardize preventative asset inspections and timely replacements to ensure optimal performance and reduce the risk of single points of failure.

Invest in an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS):

  • A UPS provides surge-protected power during emergencies and power failures, significantly reducing downtime and ensuring continuous operations.

Data center failures are detrimental to any business’s operations and finances. Managers must understand the common causes of data center outages and take measures before there is a problem to prevent them. By implementing proactive strategies to minimize human errors, prevent equipment failure, and more, administrators can safeguard their critical data center operations, ensuring continuity and resilience in the face of potential disruptions.

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