11 Steps To Effective Data Center Maintenance

Most data centers will say that they have a well-designed maintenance strategy, however many of them fall short.  This strategy should be one of the highest priorities because it can extend the life of equipment, reduce costs, and increase data center efficiency.  Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.  Data centers tend to put maintenance on the back burner to oversee equipment upgrades and carry out day-to-day operations.  Creating an effective data center maintenance plan is not only necessary but easy to do.

1.  Define the Goals of the Maintenance Program

The only way to develop an effective strategy is to know what needs to be accomplished.  The most common goals driving a data center’s maintenance program include reducing unplanned downtime, increasing equipment efficiency, and improving safety.

2.  Keep Everyone Involved

For a maintenance strategy to be effective every level of the company needs to be involved.  This includes everyone from upper management to new IT staff.  This ensures everyone is on the same page and that enough of the company’s budget is allocated to maintenance.

3.  Consider Manufacturer Specifications

When developing specific steps for a data center’s maintenance plan, it is important to consider the manufacturer specifications for each piece of equipment.  This will quickly provide substantial insight into what tasks need to be performed and at what frequency.

4.  General Cleanliness Standards Go a Long Way

Along with a detailed maintenance program, developing a comprehensive general cleanliness standard should be a priority as well.  Setting a standard of cleanliness has shown to help data centers improve airflow, minimize hotspots, and reduce safety hazards.

5.  There is a Difference between Maintenance and Regular Maintenance

Some tasks will not be necessary on a regular basis.  When data centers develop their maintenance program it is important to decide which tasks should be regularly addressed and which should not.

6.  Know How to Prioritize

Certain maintenance activities will always be more important than others.  It is imperative to prioritize effectively to ensure the most pressing maintenance tasks are always completed, even if secondary maintenance tasks must be delayed.

7.  Leverage Individual Strengths

Most data centers will dole out maintenance tasks on a first-come first-served basis.  Instead of taking this approach, it is important to determine if there are any personnel which are more qualified than others to complete specific tasks.  More qualified personnel are less likely to make a mistake and can complete the task faster.

8.  Don’t Slack on Documentation

Visible accountability is essential for carrying out maintenance plans over the long term.  Many data centers actually have maintenance plans; however there is no visible accountability.  This results in a slow decline in the adherence to the maintenance plans.

9.  Ask Questions Instead of Guessing

In most data centers, managers will need to gather information from infrastructure and application support teams in order to develop an optimal strategy.  These teams have additional insight on data center performance and will help identify which practices will provide direct benefits to the data center.

10.  Maintain a Solid Inventory

It is impossible to adhere to a maintenance strategy if no one knows what backup equipment is available.  Along with having backup equipment on-site, it is important to inventory the equipment currently being used.  This includes knowing the age, manufacturer, location, and condition of each piece of equipment.

11.  Don’t Forget About Safety

It is vital to emphasize the importance of safety when developing and deploying a maintenance plan in data centers.  Data centers carry a variety of hazards, most notably a lot of electricity.  There should be specific safety procedures for each task.

Brandon Wynn analyzes different cities in the United States to determine the best locations for data centers and colocation. He strongly urges companies to seek out geographically “safe” cities when selecting a data center.