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Part 1: Data Center Assessment Can Prevent Downtime By Identifying Weak Spots In Design, Equipment, And Operations
Part 2: Look For Critical Facilities Design Experience, Knowledge When Choosing A Data Center Assessment Team
Part 3: Primary Objective Of Data Center Assessment Is To Identify Previously Unknown Risks
By David Boston
May 2014 -
Data Centers Article Use Policy
The most significant factor in choosing the team that will perform the site assessment is experience. Critical facilities systems design and configuration knowledge is essential. Actual experience in operating critical facilities, not just designing them, is another important criteria. The team should include mechanical, electrical, and facility operations specialists. The more assessments performed, the more observations and recommended solutions the team can bring to the assessment effort.
An external assessment team can offer breadth of knowledge and experience. An internal assessment team can be very effective at identifying what they know to look for, but most will have seen far fewer facilities and issues. An exception would be when an organization has hired someone who previously conducted multiple assessments while working with an engineering company.
When screening external firms, ask for team member resumes (verify they are for the individuals planned for the assessment); customer lists; contact information for customer references; and description of items typically included in assessments.
An effective assessment report will generally include:
You should require the assessment team to provide a summary update on initial findings before they depart from your facility.
Once the assessment has been arranged, you must schedule time for selected staff members to escort and work with the assessment team. Assign those with the most experience and knowledge on a given system or process to work with the appropriate assessment team member. Prepare key support providers, such as your electric utility's customer engineer and your design engineer of record, for potential phone calls from the assessment team.
Next, organize and set aside relevant documents, such as as-built drawings and current one-line diagrams, procedures, training and orientation materials, organization charts, annual objectives, facility work rules, the master plan for the computer room, etc. Also include commissioning records, short circuit coordination studies, O&M manuals, design intent statements, and incident reports.
Assessment findings will generally fall into one of these categories:
1. Systems risks: lack of redundancy, single point of failure, limited capacity, etc.
2. Human factors risks: undefined ownership, lack of procedures or training, incorrect procedures, insufficient staff size or shift coverage, outdated documents, ineffective or absent safety policies.
3. Site risks: proximity to highway, airport, railway, combustible materials, hazardous waste, regional weather hazards, etc.
4. Commendable practices: robust design, creative design solutions, fault tolerance, concurrent maintainability, planned growth potential, carefully chosen site location, clarity of ownership, comprehensive procedures and training programs, well managed documentation, etc.