The New Normal — Best Practices for Data Center Operators
How the COVID-19 pandemic is changing and enhancing a Data Center Operator’s protocols
These are challenging times for data center operators who typically plan and anticipate nerve-rattling events such as power outages, natural disasters and all types of catastrophic events. Now, our new normal for mission-critical data centers has pushed many seasoned veterans into uncharted territory.
As we try to maintain business systems with increased remote workers as well as company bandwidth and security concerns, the stress on data center operators has become paramount in their planning. The numbers tell the story. According to VPN vendor Atlas, mid-March VPN usage in the U.S. grew 53% while Italy, where the outbreak is two weeks ahead of the U.S., saw an increase of 112%. Atlas chief operating officer Rachel Welch stated, “We estimate that VPN usage in the U.S. could increase by over 150% by the end of March.”
In response, research firm Uptime Institute has created a best practices guide with tips and recommendations from its network of data center operators and partners. Fred Dickerman, senior vice president for Management Services at Uptime Institute, stated, “As a result of the pandemic, tech dependency is increasing; the number of teleworkers is skyrocketing; online retail is surging; business-to-business communications are taking place digitally, and social interactions are moving online.”
Dickerman continued, “All of that is going to drive more network use and more use of the essential infrastructures that we’re responsible for maintaining.”
Here is a review of Uptime’s best practices for Data Center Operators:
– Adapt existing response plans to COVID-19.
Basically, don’t recreate the wheel. Use existing emergency plans and adapt them to your new normal.
If your existing plan uses an Out-of-Band solution such as the Lantronix SLC 8000, you’re already set up to handle most events. Review your failover and failback procedures to ensure that if an outage occurs, you have a mechanism to transfer data safely. As a refresher, check out the Lantronix application note: Out-of-Band Management (OOBM) Using an LTE Cellular Gateway for Failover/Failback.
– Create tiered COVID-19 response plans.
Best practices call for a three- to five-level contingency plan. According to Uptime, with tiers of escalation ranging from taking reasonable precautions to worst-case scenarios such as lights-out operation or even a complete shutdown, a plan should clearly identify the actions to be taken at each level and the circumstance that would trigger implementation of the next level.
An Out-of-Band solution, such as the Lantronix EMG8500, is an intrinsic part of any contingency plan. It allows you to mitigate and remediate, even when the main network is down, by giving you a secondary route to your infrastructure. Also see Lantronix’s EMG Product Brief.
– Restrict travel.
Create reserve data center teams. It is essential to make sure the staff doesn’t travel between data centers in order to reduce the risk of transmitting an infection from one site to another.
If you are using an Out-of-Band solution with a robust SaaS ecosystem, such as the Lantronix ConsoleFlow™, cloud, or on-premises hosted management software, you can monitor all your connected devices remotely. ConsoleFlow’s native iOS® and Android™ mobile applications provide users with an added level of convenience.
– Make the case that your data center is critical.
Another benefit of having a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan is the emphasis it places on data center operations as crucial. It is important to enlist your management to ensure your procedures are followed and to showcase the benefits of secure data center operations. Uptime has estimated that downtime during an unusual event such as the pandemic costs your company and your customers much more than during a traditional downtime event.
If you presently do not have an OOBM solution in your data centers or remote sites, this is the time to assess your exposure and develop plans to share with management. For a better understanding of the benefits of OOBM, check out Lantronix’s white paper: Building a more Resilient Network with Out-of-Band Management.
This is a watershed moment for data center and remote site operations. We will all come out of this “new normal” with a better understanding of how to keep ourselves and our network infrastructures safer. Please reach out and let us know how Lantronix can assist you and your team.
Stay Safe and Healthy!!
(1)Network World – Best Practice for Data Center Operators
(2) Network World– Coronvirus Challenges remote networking