If somebody spends € 100 million on building a data centre, there is no doubt the data centre will function perfectly on paper. At least with regard to the applicable requirements and guidelines. However, you only know if a data centre actually functions and performs as it has been designed to do once it becomes operational. It is specifically not about the certification and the technical requirements, but the uptime.
A high-tech, state-of-the-art data centre must meet more than just the technical requirements. It is mainly the operation, the way in which the data centre is managed and maintained, the way in which inspections are held and how the equipment settings are optimized and adjusted, which determines the uptime. And that is, ultimately, what it is all about. No number of certificates, upon which the design is based, can guarantee uptime.
Providers of high-quality data centre services must look further than the guidelines set by the industry or manufacturers. This is not only in their own interest. After all, they know better than anybody else the best way of guaranteeing uptime. At Interxion, we use our maintenance programme to see how critical a certain component is, what the chance of failure is and what the impact will be if something does not function correctly. The manufacturer of a component, such as an air conditioning unit, only looks at the individual component and does not see all the various components in the data centre as a whole. By accurately looking at how the systems work, suitable maintenance plans can be drawn up, which can prevent faults and unnecessary risks when the maintenance is performed.
Commissioning and maintenance
When delivering a new data centre, Interxion uses the level 5 commissioning principle. This principle makes us look much further than the usual guidelines and certification by checking, inspecting and testing the components and systems throughout the entire construction process in five steps. This starts from the moment that a component leaves the factory and continues through to the integral acceptance test, which takes place just before the data centre becomes fully operational.
Once the data centre goes live, an extensive maintenance programme based on a detailed FMECA study (Failure Mode and Effect Criticality Analysis) is started. This methodology originated in the aviation industry in the nineteen forties and nineteen fifties. When carrying out maintenance, we critically look at the risk and the impact of systems breaking down and we also take into consideration the various scenarios that arise if a component becomes faulty. By doing so, we ensure that the entire data centre does not shut down. By regularly checking all the critical components, the maintenance programme can be adjusted to the actual condition of the systems and any unnecessary risks are prevented. All of this forms the basis for achieving uptime.
The importance of people
Besides the thorough testing of all the systems in our data centres, uptime also depends on people. A technically perfect data centre can still fail as a result of the wrong action or intervention by somebody.
Training, education and certification are essential in controlling the human factor. Although external certification can contribute to improving knowledge and increasing awareness when working in a critical environment, it is the internal processes that are able to guarantee that no mistakes are made when maintenance is performed. Interxion uses various processes which guarantee that the work is carried out correctly and which ensure that the correct feedback is given if any deviations are observed. The risk of a mistake is minimized by accurately planning all of the maintenance activities and by recording everything in a maintenance management system. Furthermore, in the event of an external audit, this system enables Interxion to easily prove that all the maintenance tasks have been carried out correctly.
Uptime is at the centre of the services we provide. Uptime is achieved by running an excellent operation, which subjects the state-of-the-art data centre to extensive testing, which carefully draws up a maintenance programme and which uses well-trained employees to perform the maintenance work. With these critical success factors, uptime is achieved day after day, also long after a data centre’s certification plaque has been hung up on display.