2007-10-18

How the Data Center Views FM

This is SO far off the mark of reality...

It wasn't so long ago that the facilities management (FM) team stalked the corridors of office buildings with greasy blue coats and large bunches of keys. That image is now as out of date as carbon paper and typing pools: Today's facilities manager is more likely to be found in a white short-sleeved shirt behind a 21-inch flat-screen monitor looking at CAD drawings and updating an asset database in a high-tech basement lair.



Well, you know, because... I don't wear white, short-sleeved shirts, first of all (overall, I think we FM'ers are a handsome and stylish bunch).

Secondly, and most important... I do NOT have a 21" flatscreen... I have a 20" AND a 19" (Facility Managers scavenge, ok we don't have big budgets like the data center does).

Seriously, the above quote is the opening paragraph of an article for those IT guys that manage servers, etc and tells what an asset their Facility Manager can be to them.

Although, it does make the assumption that a facility of any reasonable size has a working CAFM system in place.

A facility manager can help with a number of environmental factors, purely because he has a complete overview of a building and its current and planned future uses — something IT staff probably lack. "Obviously you don't want the IT department creating a data center when there are kitchens on the floor above because of the danger of leaks," Janus points out.

But the real issues are power and air conditioning. Air conditioning is the number one consumer of power. Servers, as anyone who has worked in a data center can testify, generate a great deal of heat. The high density racks that are becoming increasingly common in today's data centers consume vast amounts of power, and a similar amount of power is needed to dissipate this heat. That makes the planning and layout of the data center, and the provision of power and air conditioning equipment, crucial.

This falls clearly under the FM purview.

How can FM help? In an organization of any size, it's likely that the facility managers will have a computer aided facility management (CAFM) package at their disposal. Among other things, a CAFM will usually store CAD floor plans of the building and a database of assets. For the data center, this will likely include plans showing the layouts of racks. In many cases, the database will hold the location of each server, the applications running on these servers, and information about the departments that "own" each application, where relevant.

Software tools can also carry out calculations to work out the amount of power that must be supplied in a given area of the data center, and the corresponding cooling capacity needed to remove the resulting heat. Information like this is clearly invaluable for the IT department because no matter what IT strategy is in place, the available power and cooling capacity presents constraints. The only way the IT department can be free to install and run the hardware it wants is if FM has already put in place the power and cooling it requires. And the only way for FM to know the IT requirements is for the two departments to communicate regularly.



:-/

It's okay, I'm not bitter... one day, that WILL be me.

I do support any effort to break down divisions and foster communication and sharing between different 'information kingdoms', which is a huge hurdle for any Facility Manager. We each have our specialized skills, knowledge and resources that help our buildings, systems and companies function.
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