Many of you know what I’m talking about when I say that facilities personnel are from one culture and IT personnel from another. The facilities culture walks around touching things, taking readings, using their senses to discover problems. Facilities personnel are mechanical and electrical experts in their respective trades who want to be in the field, not at a desk. On the other hand, IT personnel stare at screens, write code, make their discoveries at the keyboard, trust digital metrics over manual readings, and deplore time wasted in physical inspections, wanting everything to be digitally monitored.

The Demands of the Data Center Have Changed

In yesteryear, IT and facilities teams operated independently. Today, they must function as a single unit to deliver data center services. Therein lies the problem.

This change has occurred because the demands on the data center team have changed. It used to be that the service was to keep the data center facility operational or “up.” Efficiencies and capacity management were a secondary priority, and in many companies, there was no one responsible for the tier two items. However, this is no longer the case. With the rising cost of energy and increasing environmental concerns, running an efficient data center with carefully managed capacities is now as important as keeping the data center up.

These new demands require digital tools to monitor systems and produce analytics. Thus, IT personnel become integral members of data center operations teams and the culture war ensues. Both cultures must reach consensus because both skill sets are needed.

Who Must Make the Biggest Change?

Change must occur with both IT and facilities teams, but IT personnel will ultimately endure the biggest change in terms of their culture. Why? Because this is a new domain for IT personnel. They will have to understand generators, utilities, HVAC units, PDUs, UPSs, BMSs, data center redundancy designs, circuit loading, humidity, temperature management, etc. On top of understanding these mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems (MEP), IT also needs to learn how they interact so they can understand how each IT server impacts these systems. Understanding and monitoring the interplay of IT and MEP systems is required to run an efficient data center and manage infrastructure capacities.

Ultimately, the integration of IT and facilities personnel and processes in the data center will not only improve energy efficiency and capacity management, but reduce carbon footprint while maintaining uptime.

About the Author

As the VP of InCommand at Serverfarm, Eastman overseas the development and delivery of all InCommand services. For the previous 15 years (1999 – 2014) Eastman was the Sr. Manager, Global Data Centers for a multi-national Fortune 300 enterprise where he was responsible for the IT infrastructure and capacity management of 50 company owned and co-located data centers in the US, EMEA and APAC. In this role Eastman was also responsible for data center global strategies, designs, capacities, projects and construction including co-location negotiations and contracts.