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Data Centre Planned Preventative Maintenance

Question, why do you have your car serviced regular? 

The answer is to ensure it runs smoothy and reduces the risk of it breaking down and incurring an expensive and unexpected repair. Maintaining Data Centre’s and the critical space that supports these buildings are just like maintaining cars. ASHRAE realized that all Data Centre’s should be cleaned and maintained to a specific air cleanliness level, and the air cleanliness should be measured against ISO 14644-1 (ISO 14644-1 is the International Standard for Clean Rooms and Associated Controlled Environments).

ASHRAE’s Recommendation

ASHRAE’s recommendation to the IT industry was to have a facility that would have an air cleanliness rating of ISO Level 8 as a minimum, this standard would be achieved through correct air conditioning filters being installed and removing all visible traces of contamination. The ultimate aim behind this statement and drive was to reduce dirt, dust, carbon, construction debris, calcium carbonate, metallic, paper dust, synthetic fibers, human and non-human organic fibers and other often unseen sources of contamination from Data Centre’s as they are leading causes of internal corrosion and equipment malfunction in computer systems.

Preventative Data Centre Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance is Key

The reason for a clean IT space is very clear, at the heart of the worlds digital activity are everyday services and applications that have become staple in all our lives, collectively, these produce unimaginable quantities of user activity and associated data, to let systems become at risk from downtime due to contamination is unacceptable in this modern day, especially when simple steps can be taken.

For example, this is what happens every 60 seconds in the modern world we live in, Microsoft Teams connects 100,000 users, 6 million people shop online, Facebook Live receives 44 million views, YouTube users stream 694,000 videos, Tiktok users watch 167 million videos, and the stats are ever growing. In 2022, we will begin to see autonomous vehicles on our roads, technology will be taking over human judgement, and everything dedicated to making this a reality must be checked, checked, and double checked.

End users of everyday applications should have the confidence that tech facilities have implemented planned preventive maintenance cleaning regimes to stop unexpected outages.

Implement a Routine

When implementing a planned preventative maintenance routine for Data Centre environments, it’s vital that the correct service partner is selected. You should ensure cleaning providers have knowledge of using the correct power points, the fire protection and warning system(s) needing to be isolated, the correct lifting of Data Centre floor tiles and a general good understanding of the Data Centre environment and awareness of its functions.

The following criteria points should be evaluated:

  • Experience Profile – Should have vast experience of delivering Data Centre cleaning.
  • References – References should be obtained to vet performance/ability of the cleaning provider.
  • Training, documentation, and proof – All cleaning operatives should be fully trained in Data Centre cleaning and understand the environment they work in (including all risks).
  • Accreditations – the cleaning provider should have gained the correct accreditations to engage in Data Centre cleaning, (quality management for example).
  • Back-up, reporting and supporting systems – the cleaning provider should have clear reporting systems in place, air quality statistics should be backed up in reports for the client.
  • Health & Safety record – the cleaning provider should have a good Health & Safety record of working in Data Centre environments, all cleaning operatives should also be trained in delivering toolbox talks and completing dynamic risk assessments when onsite.
  • Sufficient insurance cover – the cleaning provider should have sufficient insurance cover for working/operating in mission critical spaces.

Planned Preventative Maintenance Cleaning Example

To give you an idea of what some of the large technology companies have implemented in terms of Planned Preventative Maintenance cleaning, Sun Microsystems/Oracle recommends in their site preparation guide, the following cleaning schedule: “Bi-annually decontaminate the subfloor void and air conditioners; quarterly decontaminate the hardware and room surface”, HP recommends in their site preparation guide that “twice a year, remove any contamination found underneath the raised floor and clean raised floor perforated panels”.

The DCA Ani-Contamination and Filtration SIG would recommend that a yearly deep clean of the Data Centre be undertaken, this should include cleaning all plenum voids (floor & ceiling), and all fabrics of the room, including the removal of contamination from internal facias of the IT equipment.

Remember, plan, plan, and plan again to keep these vital services online now, and for the future!

Author: Gary Hall

Operations Director, Critical Facilities Solutions LTD