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Ten ways to enhance your data centre

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As all Australian industry becomes more automated, data centre management is becoming more important. Below are ten ways you can improve your productivity.

10. Plan for non-technical needs when disaster strikes

Your DR strategy requires more than just a backup centre and power supply.

If a major disaster hit your site you also need to ensure access to food and medical supplies for your staff: no-one can work on reinstating services if they’re sick or hungry. 

Cyclones hitting factories and mine sites isn't an unusual occurrence in Australia. 

9. You can make a big difference in a year

It isn’t quick to plan out a data centre or significantly alter one, but that doesn't mean the process has to take years. 

A six-point action plan from Gartner Infrastructure  outlines goals you can set for the next week, three months and year to effect major changes.

*On a weekly basis a company should:
- Assess all projects and their relationships and look horizontally
- Prioritise based on risk, reward, and long term impact

*In the next 90 days a company should:
- Look again at capacity planning - without presumptions
- Assess staff skills based on breadth of knowledge and value to the business, not just value to IT

*In the next 12 months you should:
- Review opportunities to converge networks, infrastructure, and skill sets
-Establish the impact on other business plans

8. Legal issues are individual

For every company claiming that US laws don’t apply to companies outside the United States, there’s another suggesting on-shore hosting is the only option for them. The lesson? There’s no single answer; whether being onshore matters will depend on your company’s specific circumstances.

7. Uniqueness is overrated

Striving for a unique solution in a data centre is often a waste of time.

IT Departments often still reject the idea of commodity services.

As IDC’s Spencer Izard explains: “Commodity is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing".

"What you’re doing is often not unique there and you need to focus on the layers that are.” 

6. Change is not just about money

Cost management is essential for any IT project, but decisions in the data centre shouldn’t be driven solely by budgets. 

There are ten major factors to consider in making decisions are corporate culture; co-location security concerns; the accessibility of a data centre's site; any contractual concerns; if there is a lack of facilities expertise; regulatory concerns; the expected length of projects; the deployment timeframe; the   perceived size of capital investment; and the cash flow model preferences.

5. Run metrics weekly

Data centres can produce a huge volume of data of their own in the form of metrics.

The easiest way to keep those under control? 

Generate weekly reports; those can easily be repurposed into longer-term strategic documents.

4. Building your own cloud is challenging

Private and hybrid cloud have their place, but do require significant investment.

This checklist of questions below can help you before embarking on your own cloud-building activities , and can help clarify if it’s the right choice for your organisation.
Remember to ask:
- Do I have the budgets
- Do I have previous experience in data centre construction?
- Can I match what’s on offer from existing providers?
- Will the investment have a long enough lifespan to pay itself off?
- Can I specify how a cloud-centric data centre will differ from my existing centres?
- Are my planned workloads suitable for the cloud?
- What business or technical challenge am I trying to solve?

3. Manage with modern technologies

Many data centres have ageing infrastructure and are still useful, but modern management systems make a big difference.

From tablets to integrated scripting platforms, there are lots of ways to automate and enhance your management processes.

2. Match the needs to the business

We’re constantly told IT needs to serve business needs, not technology goals, and that applies in the data centre as well. 
There are a number of simple rules to follow: 
- Strive for simplicity
- Don't rely excessively on frameworks
- Get management to specify what it wants
- Deliver, don't deliberate
- Make signature ready recommendations

1. Learn from others

Data centre design is not a new discipline, so you can learn from the experiences of those who have gone before.
There are number of steps you can take to ensure you don't get in the same messes as them
- Understand your purpose
- Set suitable measurement metrics
- Don't think of any architectures other than X86
- Choose the appropriate form factor
- Concentrate on major challenges
- Work out where responsibility lies
- Don't assume modular centres will be reused
Start with this list of common mistakes to avoid, then learn how to supercharge your strategy.

This article originally appeared in full on Lifehacker

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