Hector Gallardo, senior account manager at Plenum Cleaning Services (www.plenumcleaning.com), says:

Implementing a data center cleaning program on a quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis as preventative maintenance is as essential as preventative maintenance on hardware and equipment. There are countless types and amounts of contaminants that can hinder the operating efficiencies of the hardware and equipment as well as the high pressure laminate access floor within a data center and often times can result in hardware malfunction and costly system downtime.  In addition, improper maintenance on high pressure laminate access floors as well as vinyl composition tile floors with in a data center will result in costly damage and premature aging.

Decontaminating a data center in accordance with ISO Standard 14644 (Class 100,000 .05 micron particles per cubic foot of atmosphere) has the following benefits:

1)      Elimination of harmful contaminants and debris that can clog the cooling airways on hardware and equipment that can result in hardware malfunction or thermal shutdown

2)      Elimination of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and airborne particles with a size of 0.12 microns or larger resulting in improved air quality and density

3)      Reduced static electricity in the data center

4)      Improved hardware and equipment operating efficiencies

5)      It prolongs the life of the high pressure laminate floor, vinyl composition tile floor, hardware and equipment

6)      It improves aesthetics

Data center and IT managers should care about the data center cleaning because they can reduce or eliminate potential costly downtime associated with thermal shutdown or system malfunction due to dust and debris in the cooling airways, exhaust fans and circuit boards as well as static electricity. 

Data center cleaning should rank high on the priority list because it’s an essential preventative maintenance function that can eliminate potential system malfunction and costly downtime as well as increase the performance and lifetime of the high pressure laminate floor and equipment.  A professional data center cleaning company is an extra set of eyes that will inspect the data center, especially the plenum as they provide the service and report any potential hazards such as heavy rust, bare wires, uncovered electrical junction boxes, frayed cables, zinc whiskers, etc.

The biggest challenges for data center and IT managers in regards to data center cleaning include:

1)      Differentiating between janitorial services and data center services

2)      Justifying the costs

3)      Locating an experienced professional data center cleaning company

4)      Understanding the benefits of properly maintaining the data center by performing scheduled preventative maintenance cleaning services

The data center and IT managers can overcome these challenges by consulting an experienced professional data center cleaning company that can answer their questions, provide them a cleaning demonstration and customize a cleaning schedule to meet their business and budgetary needs.
The best advice that I would give a data center and IT managers that have a plethora of similar solutions to choose from would be to:

1)      Ask and check for customer references

2)      Ask for a cleaning demonstration (hardware, equipment, access floor, plenum, cable trays, etc.)

3)      Ask for a Scope of Work

4)      Ensure that the data center cleaning company is not using un-trained temporary employees

5)      Ask for a customer satisfaction guarantee

6)      Ask as many questions as you feel necessary

Additional Information

There is a significant difference in janitorial cleaning and data center cleaning that includes the type of equipment, materials, cleaning technique and insurance.  As a result, the pricing is significantly different because of the amount of labor hours involved as well as the cost of the equipment, materials and insurance.  In order to mitigate risk, professional data center cleaning companies should not introduce liquid or machines that require liquid to operate in to the data center.