The Stack Archive

Business continuity and data centre trends from a Nordic perspective

Fri 13 Feb 2015

lucas-coromatic[1]Lucas Cardholm, vice president at Coromatic Group, a speaker at the forthcoming Data Centre World expo in London, looks at business continuity and data centre trends from both a Nordic and global perspective.

Recently I have seen business continuity climb significantly in management’s agenda. In the past it was one of those topics that would crop up the day after an incident; only at that point would companies begin to prepare ahead for disasters. Now I see a stronger awareness of the issue, with greater transparency and publicity. This media attention around privacy issues and corporate intrusions, whether public or private, has really driven business continuity’s standing.

There is evidence that many more organisations are improving their infrastructure to make it more robust. For many years, the process has just been a necessary evil; but now companies are pro-active in their continuity strategies – They have seen and heard the horror stories about how much an incident can cost!

Government compliance will also drive this trend. If you are running hospitals or mobile network base stations, or any critical facilities you need to be able to operate seamlessly, you cannot simply rely on the grid to provide you with power. Regulations have now been put in place regarding this, and these will inevitably move the market forward.

The Nordic market

The Nordics has a very high level of IT maturity in regard to technical infrastructure. We have a broadband penetration covering more than 90% of the population, even though the population density is miniscule compared, for example, to France or the UK. It is a very large area, with few people, but we still have very good coverage.

There is also a great willingness to be early adopters in the region. In the Nordics there is a culture of open-mindedness towards new technologies. Companies have already hit a few mines, which means that maturity is relatively high. The Nordics has an informed market, both in terms of vendors and customers.

Utilisation and cost present a challenge, however: the region is heavily taxed. We are taxed on anything to do with manual labour, including service technicians and engineers, so it’s necessary to be very clever in order to be cost efficient. If you look at UK or American models for data centre operations, there are a lot of specialists in a lot of layers who are all very good at what they do in a small niche. Where a British setup might use eight people, we might use four people to achieve the same result. Here, you need to be multi-skilled in order to maintain relevancy.

Power and efficiency

Top investments are generally seen in companies willing to ensure reliable critical power, irregardless of whether or not they rely on cloud solutions; it’s a matter of extent. It may or may not be business-critical, but everyone has online storage and file sharing solutions, and therefore everyone is counting on reliable internet access. Even within your own office building, if you weren’t able to access the network, you wouldn’t be able to work.

Another key investment area has been energy efficiency. However, this is still not a top priority among CIOs, due to the eons-old challenge of delegating responsibility; is it to be handled by the real estate team, the facilities team, or the IT team?

The IT team can close down their zombie servers and achieve greater energy efficiency when it comes to IT equipment, but who is responsible for the cooling of the data centre? The IT team will not usually let facilities management take care of this inside the sensitive operations areas. Managing the responsibility is a ‘grey zone’. Energy optimisation and green IT is definitely on the social conscience, but if actual savings are not clear on the budget, there’s no incentive to increase spending. Energy efficiency is on the agenda, but it’s not at the top.

Data centre managers should ensure that they are members of the EU Code of Conduct. It’s voluntary, is based on best practice, and it drives good behaviour. The issue goes beyond focused technical design, and regards how you actually operate and think.

It’s advisable to start monitoring and reporting your power consumption; you may think that paying the electricity bills will keep the matter in focus, but these bills generally go to the facilities people, with the data centre paying its share of the corporate overhead. It is very important to measure how much you actually spend.

Compliance

Many of the changes in compliance that we’ve seen recently have been centred around information management, involving information security and privacy. There is also a clear focus on the physical side of the data centre, such as access controls, and mirrored sites. These regulations don’t give technical solutions, but ensure means to protect data from physical limitations.

I note a rise in security awareness, particularly due to the concerns around the Ukraine unrest, and regarding the Eurozone crisis. Over the past 6 – 12 months the Eastern European situation has driven increased attention towards security, the location of data, and who is storing it.

Misconceptions

C-level managers often believe a priori that data centre operations meet their requirements for business continuity. The data centre does not have to be below their expectations – it may even be higher; but management needs to ensure that its preconceptions are matched by the facts about a data centre’s continuity readiness, which often differ from management’s assumptions.


Lucas Cardholm will be speaking at Data Centre World 2015 on the 11th-12th March at the Excel centre in London. Click here for more information.

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