Data Center Transition Operations Plan: A Critical Strategy

Data center transformation and transition is inevitable at the current pace of growth. Evolving a data center to meet business demand is a natural expected result. It must be complemented by highly efficient procedures so that risk mitigation is carried out at the pace of activity (demand balance and change management).

In order to ensure a successful transition project, you need a plan. Lack of familiarity with the process can lead to mishaps or a reluctance to change. This is not through negligence but because we do not have the experience to know what might happen if certain needs are not met. As the experience grows, organizations will learn their own truths about how best to support their business models. But until then, here’s a phased approach that dramatically reduces risk, every time.

Remember that an operations advocate is critical to the success of the process at every stage of planning and implementation. Someone (or a team) who deeply understands the integration of systems, technology and human activity in the data center; enjoy the benefits of maximum uptime, efficiency and profitability.

A roadmap for transition operations

This repeatable four-phase approach leads to a result that relies on continuity and sustainability to ensure the safest, most reliable and efficient operations for the data center lifecycle.

Phase 1: Evaluate

● Consider your current situation and what is needed to identify gaps and risks. Mitigate risk by defining how to manage existing infrastructure (virtual and physical). Do a full review of the existing operation to establish a baseline and determine any gaps that need to be addressed in the plan. Documentation is essential.

● Rank your workforce and current staffing model. Ensure specific roles and responsibilities for each position. Also identify contracts and subcontracts. Spending quality time on the Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed (RACI) model to ensure absolute clarity will help drive the process part and ensure that the entire ecosystem of organizations supporting the function is aligned.

● Make an inventory of assets. Specify the remaining warranties and lifecycle status.

Phase 2: the plan

● Ensure that a comprehensive lifecycle management plan is in place for all material and equipment. Determining the future to eliminate unnecessary hardware investments is as important as ensuring alignment with the budgeting process.

● Secure membership. Estimate the capacity for current needs / standards but also stakeholder expectations.

● The implementation schedule should be fully documented to include budget forecasts and processes to ensure budget execution. Make sure you measure your success with Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as well as establish a reporting rhythm.

● Always analyze your operating procedures and make the necessary changes for your new plan. Procedures that need to be changed should be subject to the same change management and information sharing requirements to ensure staff awareness and compliance.

● Implemented and evaluated the required programs:

  • Training program – review or develop an in-depth training plan which ensures that all team members (new or old) are trained and up to date on all required functions and that all staff are informed of changes through retraining and training. ‘repetitive exercises (especially emergency procedures).
  • Maintenance schedule – dissect historical records of preventive and predictive activities (either internally or outsourced) and ensure that the maintenance schedule is in place to allow planning and coordination with change management policies.
  • Energy management programs – assess current governance tools and procedures and seek timely efficiency improvements to protocols and procurement.

Phase 3: Execution

● Stick to the documented schedule – meet the deadline for contractual requirements.

● Transparency is essential – share what has been accomplished, what activities are in progress and what will follow. Listen to key stakeholders to make sure the plan still meets their assumptions and expectations.

● Flexibility is essential as business requirements can change depending on market conditions and the right balance between careful planning and transparency will ensure efficient execution.

Phase 4: The final transition

● Measure your success – use the plan’s KPIs to make sure you have achieved your goals.

● Reflect on continuous learning and improvement – document what could have been done better for the next time and what was done well to build a stronger plan for the future. Using your current project to improve future projects is essential for making inevitable transitions in the future.

● The end is really only the beginning – the incoming team must be fully capable and trained to perform the agreed processes and procedures.

A plan is never the same – Evolution is critical

The transition process should be updated with each project based on lessons learned. The transition process should also be included in every Request for Proposal (RFP) when submitting new operational teams.

Finally, creating an inclusive and transparent work culture is critical to the success of the entire process throughout the lifespan of the facility.


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