A productive, efficient datacenter is crucial to daily business operations. Managing a datacenter to its maximum potential requires a strategy that addresses a range of issues, including growth, compliance , consolidation, security , migration and business continuity.
Considering the diverse responsibilities they are entrusted with, datacenter managers must be talented in several areas, including technology, resource management , cost control, security and environmental protection . A manager must also possess innate planning abilities, solid people-handling skills and an ability to take stay cool and collected when things go terribly wrong , as they inevitably will from time to time.
Make sure your consider the following issues when evaluating or deciding upon a datacenter manager.
It's almost a cliché to observe that technology evolves rapidly and incessantly. Yet it's a fact that datacenter managers must closely monitor technology advancements and be ready to recommend the adoption of new systems or approaches that promise to help their customers make money or cut costs. Trends such as virtualization , SANs (storage area networks) , Web services and cloud computing have all arrived over the past few years to test the mettle of datacenter managers.
Less glamorous than state-of-the-art systems but at least as important are the datacenter's infrastructure underpinnings. Equipment racks, power and lighting systems and environmental controls are all vital datacenter resources that must be carefully planned, efficiently deployed and constantly tended. Managers also need to hire and supervise skilled datacenter staff members.
A datacenter needs to keep pace with business growth. One of a datacenter manager's most important jobs is to monitor business activities and to anticipate the need for additional IT services. On the other hand, managers must be careful to not overspend on equipment or facilities that may not be needed for several years, if ever.
Keeping business operations on the right side of regulatory mandates has become a crucial datacenter responsibility over the past few years. Recent government actions, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act , require companies to maintain increased vigilance over internal controls, customer privacy and data security . This means that datacenter managers and staff members, working in consultation with upper management, must consider the compliance implications of virtually every activity they undertake.
Unlike most other key business sectors, datacenters usually aren't able to become profit centers. This fact requires datacenter managers to work hard at keeping costs down while continuing to deliver vital IT services. Evaluating the costs and benefits of in-house versus outsourced services is another key responsibility managers must handle.
Even minor changes to datacenter facilities can lead to costly and challenging migration work. Significant lead times are often needed in order to successfully alter, relocate or expand datacenter operations. Datacenter migration is one of the most difficult tasks performed by an IT department, often requiring the strategic involvement of senior management and staff members in multiple departments.
A datacenter manager's ultimate goal is to provide IT services 24/7 regardless of external conditions. This means recognizing and preparing responses to business-continuity threats, such as floods, earthquakes, high winds and power interruptions. Business-continuity preparation requires creating a detailed plan that documents emergency technology resources, backup restoration procedures, staffing strategies and a blueprint for resuming operations both on-site and at a remote location should a move become necessary.
Keeping the datacenter safe and secure against both digital and physical threats is a fundamental management responsibility. Digital protection requires systems to be protected by firewalls , anti-malware applications and other types of security devices and software. Managers also need to ensure that all software platforms and applications are regularly updated with the latest security patches. Physical security includes the use of locks, alarms, surveillance cameras, motion sensors, fire-suppression systems and other protection tools. To minimize the possibility of employee theft and vandalism, managers need to keep a close eye on internal procedures and practices and perform background checks on all new hires.
As businesses become increasingly green , upper management expects its datacenter to reduce energy use, recycle hardware and engage in other environmentally friendly practices.
Managing a datacenter is not unlike juggling knives. When the task is performed flawlessly, it's a glorious sight to behold. But when something goes wrong, the result can be horrific.
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