Networks Europe Issue 13 January/February 2018 - Page 15

TEST & MEASUREMENT By Robert Neave, CTO & Co-founder, Nlyte Software In the years to come businesses will require services from faster and more complex data centres to support their customers The need for more complex services certainly holds great opportunities for data centre providers. However, they still need to make sure they deliver their services under regulations in a competitive market. To guarantee great service quality, they must test their infrastructure to its limits, ensuring data centres remain as risk free from failure as possible. One basic but fundamental element they need to test and consolidate is power. Indeed, failures in power management can have sweeping effects. In the last couple of years, data centre provider Global Switch has faced multiple power issues. Furthermore, as the much-publicised BA data centre outage in 2017 demonstrated, sometimes you just need to ensure no one pulls out the plug or flips the wrong switch. A proactive approach By approaching power chain integrity with a proactive mindset, organisations can best mitigate the chances of suffering a power outage. By minimising this risk, they can remain functional, reputable, and profitable. First, businesses should document their power chains from start to finish. This means analysing where power enters, through to the UPSs, PDUs, and out to all elements of rack-mounted equipment. With a grasp over the power chain, data centre managers can understand the potential impact of an outage should a certain piece of equipment fail, or be taken offline. In addition, businesses must be cognisant of their equipment. They must know the maintenance status for their power chain devices, bearing in mind when each is reaching the end of its life cycle. In this way, they can efficiently maintain their power chain before an old piece of equipment or one with a known issue causes an outage. Make a roadmap with simulations Power failure simulations are a great way to minimise risk in the data centre. Data centre operators can virtually switch devices off, without affecting the real production environment. This ability allows organisations to establish a carefully thought out action plan to recover services should the worst happen. Too often, data centre operators assume that their power chain and backup systems are foolproof and have neglected fail-safe tests only to find their organisation making headlines for the wrong reasons. Simulations enable organisations to locate likely pinch points in their data centre. Pinpoint weaknesses Traditionally, security has never fallen into the remit of the facility manager. Rather, it has always been something that the IT department has taken care of. However, now that data centres have stronger and more powerful connections 15 with the outside world, they lie vulnerable to easier attacks. There is a clear meeting between security and power issues and data centre managers should not ignore it. To safeguard against such vulnerabilities, organisations must shore up their security measures. Such precautions include changing passwords regularly and ensuring that outside contractors only have access to devices that they need, and certainly not anything that can shut systems down. Organisations should also invest in a proven power management solution that can be realised with a data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) solution. With these tools, IT and facility personnel can run their data centres as efficiently as possible. This allows stakeholders to keep improving overall operations and simultaneously identify vulnerabilities to keep the power chain risk-free. For many organisations, a power outage is the worst- case scenario. Not only can it affect the day-to-day in the short-term, it can also have a long-term influence on the business’ reputation. Customers who read that a data centre has suffered an outage will be less likely to subscribe to its services, as past performance is sometimes their only evidence to make future predictions. Reputation keeps customers coming back for more. If that is hampered, it will do as much harm to future profits as the downtime itself. In the end, mitigating risk is all about keeping watch over the power chain and planning for the worst. With such an approach, organisations can be assured that their data centres are fail-safe. n