Smart Operators And Data Center Metrics

Modern society will soon be built on the cloud, and the cloud is built on the data center.  One cannot emphasize the importance of these facilities enough- or the potential losses that can be accrued if something goes wrong. It should thus go without saying – the best operators are those who pay attention to data center metrics. After all, if they don’t the ins and outs of how their facility operates, how are they going to rectify any problems they might come across?

If they don’t understand where their system’s headed, how can they prepare for the future?

“Data center efficiency goes beyond knowing if servers are still up,” writes Chris A. Mackinnon of Processor, “these days, data center managers are accountable for energy usage, energy efficiency, compliance, regulation, and a great deal more. Performance must be monitored and trends must be predicted to ensure that the data center is always up and ready for capacity increases at any time.”

The problem with the modern tech industry is how rapidly it’s changing- how quickly everything’s moving forward. Simply kicking back and taking on problems as they crop up just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Even a minimal degree of downtime could utterly cripple a center and its servers. While it’s true that you can’t really prepare for everything, you should still prepare for something- you’d be surprised how many pitfalls you can avoid simply by knowing the stats.

At the end of the day, good operators have a plan for whatever problems they feel are likely to arise. Smart operators, on the other hand; use metrics to predict those problems and tackle them before they even become problems.

There’s also the matter of productivity. If you understand your facility’s vital statistics, it becomes that much easier to implement a set of standards and guidelines that’ll improve both the overall effectiveness of your center and the work-efficiency of your employees.

It should go without saying that those are both things you want to do.

You need to be careful in how you analyze the statistics, however.  A set of clearly defined, well-designed metrics are a godsend for any operator. On the other hand, disorganized, poorly defined, or incomplete metrics could very well spell disaster, for several reasons:

  • You could end up improving on areas that don’t require improvement, while overlooking potentially critical problems with your facility.
  • Goals that aren’t properly defined are frustrating, both for you and for your employees.
  • Frustrated employees work much less effectively.
  • Since these employees work less effectively, efficiency goes down the tubes.

When efficiency goes down the tubes, well…It all sort of goes downhill from there.

A well implemented set of metrics, on the other hand:

  • Helps improve the overall functionality of the data center.
  • Makes things far easier for IT.
  • Helps operators understand what works, and what could use improvement.
  • Put the variables associated with a data center’s operation into individual categories, and allows operators the freedom to analyze each variable only if absolutely necessary.

Of course, even with metrics, there’s a downright staggering volume of information to process.  There’s a reason a lot of SAAS providers have started tapping into the BI market- having a platform to organize and display them makes things significantly easier.

Energy efficiency, hardware effectiveness, employee efficiency, business value, data rates and uptime are all of vital importance to the data center. It’s not just a matter of energy efficiency anymore- virtually every factor needs to be considered, and virtually every aspect needs to have a metric associated with it.

While there’s no easy answer to which metrics are the right ones- it largely depends on your facility and what you’re attempting to do with it- it goes without saying that if you want to truly thrive, if you want the technology to be truly effective and the facility to have real business value, you can’t just let it run as it will-you need to implement data center metrics, either way.