Mr David Loman, President of Data Clean Asia, discusses data center maintenance and cleaning.
When it comes to understanding and maintaining your data Center, many internal and external factors come into play and we know how the task of maintaining your data Centre can be daunting and seem like a hassle so here are some questions to get you started on the path to choosing the right critical environment specialist . These may seem like basic questions, but the answers can hold critical information that will help you determine if this provider is one to whom you should entrust your most critical business assets.
1. Why should technical cleaning be a top priority for any data Center?
The equipment in the data centre represents a huge financial investment and protecting that investment should be no. 1 on your list. Keeping it clean, protecting the servers from dust and contamination should be a top priority. It is a common misunderstanding
2. What is a common misunderstanding when it comes to cleaning a data Center?
That the filters in the air-conditioners will provide enough filtration to keep the DC clean. This is a common statement from data centre managers. However, look at this from your own home. Your room AC has a filter but you still need to clean your home by dusting, vacuuming, etc. Dust from exposed concrete is very corrosive and is constantly coming off the ceiling and from the floor. This is just one of many ways the DC gets dirty and needs cleaning.
3. How often should your data center be cleaned?
This is an age-old question and it all depends on the room. Minimally, the DC should be cleaned once per year. However, every 3 months the room should be checked to see if there is dust accumulation. The simplest way is to look at the top of the black server cabinets. If they are dusty in just three months, then everything in the room is dusty and it should be cleaned. A new data centre should be cleaned at least every 3 months for the first year to eliminate all of the dust created during the construction phase. Even if there was a post-construction cleaning, there is still dust and debris that can’t be removed in just one post-construction cleaning.
4. What is the risk of using an untrained cleaning personnel to clean your Data Centre and what is the optimal time and manpower needed to thoroughly clean your critical environment?
Your data Center runs the risk of damage and downtime. Not only untrained but also wrongly trained cleaning personal can be a huge liability to a multi-million dollar DC. In addition to untrained people, pushing cleaners to clean faster than their ability can cause big problems in the DC. Having a 4-hour job but making your people do it in an hour in order to save money is a big concern and common practice among less qualified companies. Forcing people to work faster in a critical environment is just asking for mistakes and problem.
Depending on the size of your data centre and scope of work,there has to be enough manpower involved to properly clean the DC especially the underfloor area of the DC. Cleaning a data centre requires a lot more precision and attention hence rushing through the process will only increase the risk of human error.
5. Should you base your decision for your preferred cleaning service provider solely on price?
Many companies win over customers solely based on price. However, most of the time, basic cleaning standards are not met. Though they claim that have experience, you need to dig deep and understand that there is a significant difference between a company that has been cleaning data centres for many years and those that have recently transitioned from general cleaning into data centre cleaning . Many times, these companies lack the experience and usually end up servicing your data centre solely by trial and error.
The old saying “haste makes waste” applies in all aspects of the service business especially when working with expensive sensitive electronic equipment. In order to clean a room fast, corners have to be cut, work is sloppy and most importantly, things can get damaged. A simple slip of a mop could mean an outage and in the data centre business, outages MUST be prevented at all cost. Quality work costs a little extra but that little extra could be the difference between a catastrophic event and a smooth running data centre.
6. Why is it crucial to use a cleaning specialist to clean your Data Center?
Many inexperienced cleaning companies or In house janitorial services are typically not trained for this type of cleaning / decontamination work. Common janitorial cleaning chemicals, equipment and wax may make the data center look great now – but they will create chemical and physical transformations at microscopic levels causing corrosion, rust, static, overheating and hundreds of other problems leading to eventual downtime.
8. What should you be aware of when selecting a qualified vendor for cleaning services in a data center?
Find out if their processes have been certified by an ISO body. Research and read up on testimonials to know if they have a history of truly satisfied clients. Lastly, check if their equipment is certified to be used in a controlled access environment and if is it well maintained
11. Is having product knowledge and awareness of data center equipment advantage when engaging a cleaning specialist?
Its imperative that the data centre cleaning company understands the entire environment of a well operating data centre. Otherwise, they are just a cleaning company and not a partner to the customer. Some customers need to be told or advised on problems noticed during a cleaning session. For example, informing a customer that they have a serious hot spot problem and a HV tile would help fix that problem.
Mr David Loman, President of Data Clean Asia
|7. What should you be aware of when selecting a qualified vendor for cleaning services in a data center?
Find out if their processes have been certified by an ISO body. Research and read up on testimonials to know if they have a history of truly satisfied clients. Lastly, check if their equipment is certified to be used in a controlled access environment and if is it well maintained.
9. What are contaminates and their effect on your equipment and data center?
Dust, rust, zinc whiskers, metal shavings, water leakage, corrosive gasses, etc are contaminates that can affect sensitive electronic equipment such as servers and storage devices. Though the data centre itself might not be damaged, however, if there is an unnoticed water leak or evidence of contaminates , an experienced cleaning company would find it and report it before it becomes a serious problem. Therefore it is important to Practice regular inspection of your data centres to minimize contamination
10. Why is it important to have a multinational company maintain a data center?
A multinational company can offer consistent services to company with data centres all over the world. Consistency is important when managing data centres around the globe. It also allows the company to have and to share a global data base of experience and solutions .
12. Is a 24/7 Scheduling & Emergency disaster recovery service crucial to any data center?
This is extremely critical to your data centre. You should also check if your appointed service provider has the capability to respond, support and resolve your disaster immediately. In a disaster situation, You can’t wait till the next morning or the following day, you have to get your facility up and running as soon as possible. Having a company that offers 24-hour emergency service and disaster recovery is crucial to the operation of your data centre. It’s called a disaster for a reason and if you have one in your data centre, you need someone there immediately to clean up the mess.
Every data centre has its unique operations, equipment and personnel circumstances and it is necessary to find out what solution and system best suits your critical environment. No one wants to be blamed for losing millions of dollars because their critical systems and equipment went down. Always ensure that your appointed service provider prioritizes preventive and predictive maintenance over corrective maintenance. Needless to say, a trusted and well communicated relationship with your service provider is really key to ensuring that your data centre is operating and performing at its optimal .
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