As data center operators look to leverage the benefits of a growing expanse of available performance data accrued from infrastructure monitors, a few key questions need to be addressed. Where does this information go?  How does the organization make the best use of the new found details of equipment status and performance?  Who manages the data, analysis, and recommendation process?  How does the information impact decision making, processes, and policies?  In essence, what do they do now?

As data centers contemplate their approach, they must also assess the capabilities and skill sets of the personnel they make accountable for managing the collection, reporting and interpretation of the data. These same individuals are also likely responsible for integrating changes to various operational processes and policies impacted by the availability of data insights.  If these were dedicated roles, these responsibilities could make a lot of sense. However, in all the data center companies I have seen, these responsibilities have been layered onto facility engineering and operations staff that have critical full-time roles maintaining infrastructure equipment.

Look to Outsource to Experts to Increase Efficiency

With all the specialized labor within the data center, it seems quite logical that data center operators would look to outsourced firms specializing in monitoring and analysis to handle these responsibilities and turn the data collected into insightful and actionable recommendations.  Not only does this align expertise with responsibilities, but frees precious data center resources to focus on core infrastructure and operations.

Not unlike the proverbial Swiss Army knife, these jack of all trade operators can take on the burden of monitoring, for at least a little while and with some level of effectiveness.  But just like the all-purpose tool, they won’t be nearly as efficient as a more specialized resource or the right tool for the job.

Realize the Full Value of Monitoring

The value of monitoring firms boils down to focus and perspective. Similar to the technical specialists throughout the data center, monitoring firms typically specialize in their area of focus. This helps provide a depth of understanding and knowledge that part-time users cannot match.  Systems are tailored to handle collecting, storing, analyzing and reporting on the data.  Perspective is enhanced via access to numerous clients’ data and a volume of situations, circumstances and variations that single customers or locations simply don’t see. These benefits are the basis of their expertise and potential value to data center operators.

For data centers that have decided to make the investments necessary to access and collect key performance data, it makes much more sense to enlist an expert to manage and analyze that data and extract value and actionable insights.  Otherwise, they risk devaluing their investment by relegating data management across teams or individuals with other critical priorities.