Published in the Winter Data Centre Management Magazine, our Head of Design; Stephen Lorimer looks at resilience and how the industry mindset needs to change.
A common definition of ‘resilience’ is ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties’. When applied to the data centre sector it is more commonly accepted as: the ability of an IT infrastructure to continue to operate, for example following an issue such as power outage, equipment failure or human error.
There is a general misconception that all data centres should be highly resilient. In fact, I lose count of the times that customers have started initial meetings by requesting a “Tier III or Tier IV facility and, above all, absolute protection against any data loss.” Quite often by the end of the initial engagement they realise that they are already achieving the redundancy they need within their IT layer and can normally operate safely with a lower resilience classification.
Historically organisations have often made the mistake of designing highly resilient data centres without properly considering why and whether or not they actually need them to be highly resilient. As a result they have ended up with, at best, facilities that have been both expensive to construct and continue to be operationally expensive, and unnecessarily complex, to operate.
At the heart of this problem is the fact that decisions about the resilience of supporting M&E infrastructure are often made without any proper consideration about what level of availability the IT service is actually required to deliver. To do this involves taking a step back and looking at the wider IT strategy – an approach that is endorsed in the EU Code of Conduct which clearly states that organisations should “deploy resilience in line with requirements.’
This failure in approach can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common one we see is that organisations do not engage with a specialist. Whilst in-house teams are often extremely competent, data centre design is rarely their ‘core skill’ so the end result may not always meet and sometimes contradicts the company’s IT objectives.
For those occasions where design and build is the best option we, as an industry, need to put more of a focus on ensuring that data centres are ‘designed for operation’ and the team responsible for maintaining and running the facility is engaged from the outset. As an organisation we encourage different stakeholders, to be part of the process from the outset, as we feel that this delivers the best results. This early engagement is key as not having all the stakeholders involved may mean that not all impacts are properly considered and addressed as part of the design…
2016 has been a very big year for Keysource. We have started working with some amazing new clients, won some top awards and become part of Styles&Wood Group Plc!
We kicked off the year by extending our higher education portfolio, once again proving that our knowledge of the University sector can deliver real benefits. March was a bumper month for us as we secured contracts with the Metropolitan Police and Southport & Ormskirk Hospital. We were also accepted as a member of the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Certification Service, which enabled us to provide more opportunities and qualifications for our staff.
In April, we were extremely pleased to have been chosen by Chayora to design nearly 1.8million sq ft of white space for a nationwide network of data centres throughout China. We also won a RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Award for a third year in a row, this time receiving a Gold award.
Julia Small, RoSPA’s Head of Awards and Events, said: “To win an award at such a highly-regarded event as the RoSPA Awards is a great achievement for Keysource. It recognises their commitment to maintaining an excellent health and safety record and raises the bar for other organisations to aspire to.”
To support our continuing growth, we opened new offices in the centre of London in May. We were also chosen by a leading pharmaceutical company to design and build a new critical data centre in the midlands, as well as securing the Data Centre Solutions New Design/Build Data Centre Project of the Year for our work with Jaguar Land Rover. Meanwhile, we won a key contract providing facilities management for Leeds City Council in July.
As we moved into Autumn we entered our Fundraising Month. Over the course of September, the Keysource team took part in the formidable Nuts Challenge, the Dragon Boat Race, the London to Brighton Bike Ride and hosted a Macmillan coffee morning. As a result, we raised an incredible £4000 for a variety of charities. Autumn also saw the start of a new chapter for Keysource after the Limited company was acquired by Styles&Wood Group Plc as part of their diversification strategy.
The year has ended as it began, with an exciting mix of contract and award wins. We added Staffordshire University, the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter to our growing University portfolio.
Howard Whiteley, Interim Director of Digital Transformation at the Staffordshire University said: “Keysource has provided us with excellent advice throughout the past six years, as we update our IT strategy we are confident that Keysource will continue this, supporting us to implement a best-in-class solution for the University.”
We also won our third award of the year, picking up the award for Public Services Digital Delivery at the Datacentre Dynamics EMEA Awards 2016 for our work on the Metropolitan Police’s data centre estate. One of our engineers; Tom Blundy, was also a finalist in the Young Mission Critical Engineer of the Year category.
Mark McLeod, Director of Service Delivery for the Metropolitan Police said: “This award recognises Keysource’s effectiveness and skills in supporting the Metropolitan Police Service’s IT transformation.”
As we draw towards the end of 2016 we would like to thank all our staff for their hard work, and to our clients and suppliers for helping us to make this a brilliant year. We look forward to a prosperous 2017!