Supporting the modern, agile data center

Posted: June 25, 2020

Data centers form the cornerstone of the ever-expanding global digital economy. While information security is of paramount concern, maintaining high levels of reliability can make or break a data center business – and indeed, and their customers’ business.

According to The National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., 93% of businesses that have lost availability in their data center for 10 days or more have filed for bankruptcy within the space of a year. Hence, data center operations have a comparable criticality similar to that of industrial operations, including refineries, power plants, other large-scale infrastructure operations.

Data center solutions require capabilities to mange disparate sources of data, integrate many 3rd party operations systems, and aggregate information from IT and OT systems, all to enable enterprise visibility, workforce collaboration and efficiency. There are several key aspects of the modern data center that are particularly important to ensure the smooth, undisrupted running of business operations.

To maintain high reliability factors, data centers must include appropriate hardware and software redundancies to eliminate single points of failures throughout the system, as well as constantly undergo regular installation and hardware modernization processes. According to consulting firms IDC and Gartner, data centers older than seven years are considered obsolete. To manage this change efficiently and extend the life of assets, common data modeling, global naming and hardware abstractions are very important. Additionally, detailed operating procedures and workflows have been established to make sure operators follow the proper steps during both normal operations, and, more importantly, during an emergency event.

In 2018, the Uptime Institute identified the aging workforce as one of the main factors affecting system reliability: It appears that data center staff are aging faster than the equipment. The industry must take steps to prevent any operational knowledge drain and ensure that these operators do not become a single point of failure in themselves. Fortunately, data centers can learn from other industries, such as refineries and utilities, that use integral training programs to institute a culture of continuous learning, collaboration tools and operational excellence.

For over 20 years, AVEVA has pioneered and delivered robust and successful operations systems for the refinery and utility industry. Some of the components that are ready to be implemented in Data Centers include:

  • Unified Operation Centers: A single pane of glass to provide centralized visibility of operations. This acts as a platform for integrating systems, sites, processes and people.  A Unified Operations Center solution provides full capability to connect, collect, visualize, operate, analyze, act and integrate data points to make the correct decision.
  • Predictive analytics:  Detecting anomalies of major assets while in operations or in advance using unsupervised learning (AI/ML) allows data center operators to reduce any potential unscheduled downtime.
  • Simulation and Training: Accurate representation of major components including electric loads and cooling systems. This simulation should be robust enough to allow for training of normal operations as well as emergency events. The use of microlearning tools enhances knowledge retention and ensures that operators are well equipped to respond to any emergency conditions. Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) would further enhance realistic training for operators, and the use of predictive analytics can assist in the maintenance of vital equipment in Data Centers, thus lowering the risk of downtime due to mechanical malfunctions.

When data center operators are thinking about ways to train the workforce and capture operational know-how to facilitate and enhance reliability and operational excellence, a Unified Operations Center solution can accelerate the training of the next-generation workforce and overall efficiency. To learn more about Unified Operations Center, please visit AVEVA’s website.


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