Should You Care About A Global Data Centre Footprint?

Data Centre Footprint

Colocation infrastructure that extends around the world enables the easy delivery of the security, space, power and bandwidth needed to keep big businesses running smoothly. For many, the location of data centres is hugely important for geographic diversity and redundancy, IT asset protection and equipment failover. However, the question always comes up: “why does it matter that a provider has over 50 data centres around the world if I need just one rack?” A fair question that deserves a full answer.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, having facilities around the world mitigates risk. How? Through knowledge sharing. Working to two types of incidents; the ‘abnormal incident’ and ‘avoidable error’ means that appropriate processes are put in place to ensure ‘one offs’ remain exactly that and not repeated time and time again by those that simply have not had a chance to learn from colleagues around the world.

Humans will always make mistakes. The difference between one person learning from their mistake, and an entire global operation learning, is huge. When an ‘avoidable error’ is recorded and shared, not as a reprimand, but as a method of knowledge sharing, processes and procedures can be put in place to benefit everyone. The lesson can come from the other side of the world or around the corner – it doesn’t matter. Essentially, everyone learns together and develops at a much faster rate as a result.

When it comes to ‘abnormal incidents’, patterns are spotted immediately. A facility of ours had a fire alarm break point fail. It was considered to be a ‘one off’ and recorded as an abnormality but shared with 55 other data centres globally. When the same fault occurred in a facility in Asia, the issue was quickly escalated and investigated fully. This led to a total product recall from the manufacturers and complete replacement of the faulty points across all facilities. What could have been neglected as an isolated incident, which could have evolved into a serious problem, was rectified without causing a minute of disruption.

Having a global operation also affords the luxury of having a team of people that specifically look into such issues. A lack of time or resource is never an issue. The flip side is that innovation is also shared globally. If a team member comes up with a great idea that works, then two-three weeks later it can be implemented across the world. If innovation happens anywhere, everyone benefits.

One of the most important advantages to global knowledge sharing is of course value for money. Power costs have gone through the roof. Back in the day, small efficiency improvements wouldn’t have been anything other than best practice – you wouldn’t reap a huge benefit. Now, those little efficiencies have a real, tangible impact on the bottom line. So much of the data centre is driven by what the engineers do on the floor and it’s sharing of little modifications and best practice that really make a difference to the bottom line.

Data centre design is key to fostering such an environment. When you have a Ferrari, you want to make sure it’s looked after. Having fellow owners and enthusiasts to bounce ideas off of benefits everyone. And let’s not forget the importance of healthy internal competition. Engineers take real pride in there work and sharing their expertise with team mates.

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Andy Huxtable is responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of strategic initiatives to grow the global CenturyLink Technology Solutions collocation business with a particular focus on the EMEA region. The position requires a keen understanding of the data centre business and the ability to leverage CenturyLink's value proposition, including managed hosting, cloud and network services to drive the product’s success.