Facility managers must ensure that data centers are operational, safe, and functioning efficiently. Since data centers are the power source for many modern businesses, businesses depend heavily on facility managers to keep operations running efficiently.
A facility manager differs from the data center administrator regarding the responsibilities for maintenance and troubleshooting. Administrators and facility managers typically perform different duties within the data center itself; however, they need to work in tandem and must efficiently communicate with each other to ensure the data center continues to operate smoothly.
The job of the facility manager plays a crucial role.
Facility managers supervise the data center’s structural housing, including HVAC, security, space allocation, and other mechanical functions. The management responsibilities should, therefore, include:
- Environmental health and safety in the workplace;
- Personnel management for facility employees, including hiring, training, and onboarding;
- Emergency preparedness protocols and responses for the facility;
- Processes for managing change within the facility itself;
- Energy management systems; and
- Financial management of the facility.
Facility managers must be skilled and adept project managers who can manage resources, prioritize tasks appropriately, and plan efficient work, and this is particularly true among those who oversee colocation data centers with multiple clients using their facilities. Managers must know how to handle the competing demands and priorities for resources and adjust the existing resource allocations and protocols in rapidly changing situations.
Facility managers need specialized knowledge
Facility managers in the data center need to collaborate and coordinate together with IT managers to guarantee that their complex ecosystems continue to function smoothly, even in the event of complications and challenges arising. To this end, processes in the facility should not conflict with administrative work and vice versa. For instance, security protocols should allow for enough flexibility to allow admins to enter as needed to manage and support their infrastructure; yet, the protocols should remain tight enough to limit their use to a specific area. Meanwhile, HVAC systems must be set to the appropriate level to support the infrastructure within the data center. This demands that facility managers and administrators must share information regarding their requirements.
Facility managers should also have knowledge of data center design guidelines, industry best practices, and new technologies. They should be aware of the different types of infrastructure present within their data center, such as servers and virtual machine storage, SANs, storage, and networking, with specific knowledge regarding how their physical environment could affect this infrastructure.
Facility managers frequently utilize facility management software to assist with managing the infrastructure of their data centers, thereby allowing them to monitor specific data related to the facility, such as cooling or power consumption. They can also aid in helping admins of data centers to examine their infrastructure more thoroughly.
The differences between the administrators and facility managers of data centers
The facility manager is responsible for the entire data center, from the perimeter outside of the building through to the individual rooms that house the infrastructure. They directly work with each of these areas to ensure the overall maintenance and support of the facility. Moreover, they integrate various management systems for monitoring the use of the facility via dashboards to control the environment and security of the facility.
While facility managers are accountable for maintaining and monitoring the HVAC systems that regulate the conditions within infrastructure rooms, they do not typically manage any repairs or maintenance that could affect the software or hardware located there. As such, if the temperature inside the server room was too high, they would attempt to repair the cooling system; however, they are not usually able to take over the repair of servers that cease to function due to the extreme temperature. Instead, they should collaborate with data center administrators and other facility experts to arrange repairs promptly. Facility managers can also assign staff from the facility to study the cause of the problem and arrange for this cause to be repaired.
Facility managers don’t determine the layout and connection between infrastructures in the facility. However, they must be aware of how design affects the use of facilities to ensure that electricity consumption, environmental, and electrical elements are all maintained.
The IT administrators’ job is to ensure the uptime of data centers infrastructure. With this in mind, they should collaborate closely with facility managers when necessary to ensure that things run smoothly. In a data center or a collocated facility, facility managers should hence consider the location and assist IT teams with increasing the uptime of the infrastructure.