How To Learn From In-House Data Center Experts
From practicing preventive maintenance to classroom training sessions, data center operators should have a variety of opportunities for practice and training.
To date, several data center owners have implemented similar practices. They use scheduled preventive maintenance events to permit each team member to gain “hands-on” training, under the guidance of the team’s subject matter expert, for every system isolation activity — instead of having the same team member isolate a specific system each time preventive maintenance is scheduled. This ensures all become confident with every planned critical operation.
Monthly classroom training sessions are held separately to review emergency response procedures as a group. Under the guidance of a subject matter expert, pairs of facilities technicians then simulate the same emergency responses in front of the equipment later that week. The facility manager or assigned training coordinator create the quarterly written tests. Those failing to score 90 percent are provided further instruction and allowed to re-test until they pass. Peers are asked to provide input on annual reviews, to vouch for their team members’ competence at critical processes. Some companies create and award framed certificates for multiple levels of accomplishment, including recognition of an individual’s readiness to train others.
When constructing a new facility, a few data center owners have intentionally built 30 to 60 days of practice time into the project schedule, after the completion of the system testing (commissioning) effort. These individuals have truly pioneered a practice that should become universally accepted by critical facilities owners in the near future. Remember that the commissioning process was initially adopted by only a few critical facility owners. Today, it is considered a requirement by all who take continuous operation objectives seriously.
Recognition that human error accounts for the majority of incidents has justified the substantial investment in training and practice time by those who manage the other critical operations described earlier. Adding one to two months of paid operator practice time to a new data center facility start-up schedule may seem like a substantial investment, but it will pale in comparison to the cost of just one downtime event that could have been avoided. Because many organizations will never willingly shut down their infrastructure systems once operation begins, this will be the only time for system operators to gain the site-specific experience each individual needs.
David Boston (email@example.com) serves as director of facility operations solutions for TiePoint-bkm Engineering, where he provides assessments, staff plans, and the development of procedures and training programs for critical facility clients.