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April 5, 2011 -
Today's tip from Building Operating Management: When evaluating locations for data centers, be aware of people issues.
Many factors come into play in the decision of where to locate a data center. One important set of issues that can be overlooked has to do with the people who will keep the data center operational. For example, the location of a data center determines the pool of potential employees that a facility executive will have to draw from. Densely populated areas like the Tri-State region around New York City typically have the largest number of experienced data center facility engineers and managers. But a big city location doesn't necessarily make it easy to find and retain qualified staff. One reason is because the large number of data centers makes it easier for experienced professionals to change jobs.
Data centers in other parts of the country have challenges of their own. One of them is that vendor support for mission critical items like UPS systems may be lacking in the area. If that's the case, the facility executive may need to develop in-house expertise in that system - something that might not be needed in a major urban center where large data center owners can expect very quick response from local vendors.
Is there is a vendor service organization that can support the equipment? If not, are there contractors in the area that can either do the job completely or at least fill in until the vendor can get there?
Global operations magnify the challenge of ensuring that qualified people - whether in-house, outsourced or provided by vendors - are available to keep the data center running. Pfizer has hundreds of data center facilities scattered around the world, some of them operating in remote locations with minimal staff. If a data center in a hard-to-reach location runs into a problem, the sheer distance and travel logistics involved may delay the response from an outside organization contracted to provide support for the data center.