Magazine article Journal of Property Management

A Balanced Approach to Data Reliability

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

A Balanced Approach to Data Reliability

Article excerpt

While a balance sheet is the best way to gauge a company's financial strength and vulnerability, few know the best way to size up a firm's data center reliability. Assessing reliability becomes even more critical to the bottom line during a real estate slowdown as pressure mounts to cut back on facility maintenance and operations budgets. A firms inability or unwillingness to examine and calibrate the components of operational reliability will leave it vulnerable to costly downtime as trained staff is stretched to capacity.

Unfortunately, management rarely thinks to look beyond the equipment to the engineering, processes and people that keep Web sites and computer networks up and running 24/7. Couple that with the sometimes-competing interests of various departments or `siW-corporate real estate, planning and design, construction, risk management, information technology and operations-- and there's a high probability that a firms IT infrastructure will shut down during a power outage bringing business to a halt and severely impacting the bottom line. A new tool now is available to help companies identify the best strategies to reach their targeted levels of reliability and to avoid costly outages and downtime. It's called the Critical Facilities Balance Sheet.(TM)

Uncovering the Weakest Link

The Balance Sheet takes aim at all silos within a firm preventing any one department from directing reliability spending and thus increasing uninterruptible uptime. It does so by taking all the design and operational elements of a new or existing critical facility and comparing them to industry benchmarks for achieving targeted reliability.

These benchmarks, created by studying 50 million square feet of data centers worldwide, look at each component of reliability-IT infrastructure, power, HVAC, testing, operations, security, maintenance, controls and disaster recovery-to discover the weakest links in reliability preparedness and the most likely place for an outage to occur. By taking a Balance Sheet approach executives can identify where a firm's data center is on target, where the firm is overspending on equipment or power and how to correct the imbalance.

With a Balance Sheet approach, questions are asked about every conceivable task or piece of equipment used to maintain the facility that supports information systems. Executives are then presented with a broad perspective of operations based on industry standards and a more accurate picture of risk. Most companies today are fully sensitized to the need for utmost reliability, but they just need expert guidance on how to prioritize spending and keep making progress.

Reliability Benchmarks

So how does a firm decide how much to spend to achieve uninterrupted uptime? The highest benchmark of reliability allows for only half a minute a year in downtime-- typically where only the top-of-the-- line Wall Street trading firms, banks and cable operators are aiming, but it's often cost-prohibitive to achieve. The following chart compares reliability targets with average lengths of downtime:

There's no reason for a business to give up its vision of optimal reliability, but to get closer to its target, it is important to prior0itize spending on each component of reliability. The following step-by-step approach works for any size facility with any level of reliability from back office operations to the most sophisticated Wall Street trading floors. …

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