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Uptime Institute offers tips for protecting mission-critical data centers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Get advice on safety and optimum operation directly from experienced data center professionals

In response to the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, IT infrastructure advisory group Uptime Institute assembled a working group comprised of specialists, customers, and operators of data centers for the purpose of collecting information and advice toward mitigating the effects of the spreading coronavirus on key corporate operations.

TThe findings have been published in a report entitled “COVID-19: Minimizing critical facility risk.” The report offers fundamental measures and advice on operations, as well as recommendations on where to start in terms of reviewing operations comprehensively from a strategic perspective. Highlights of the report are as follows:

Fundamental measures

Among the working group’s proposals are those following conventional wisdom—they encompass everything from hygiene and isolation to assessing possible living vehicles for transmission and moving from one location to another. The group further proposes means for expanding on existing security steps.

  • Alternate personnel: Provided staffing is adequate, the group suggests implementing discretionary isolation. For mission-critical jobs that are served by multiple people, it recommends posting one at the location and having the other quarantined, and then changing positions twice a month.
  • Teleworking: If personnel at the location are to be alternated, a home-working strategy becomes paramount. Depending on the size of the organization, this could potentially be expanded in scale to team-level location presence and teams working from home, again switching places two weeks later.
  • Reconsider access point traps: If security is particularly important, the group suggests looking at other ways to achieve the needed level of security, as person traps would need to be re-sanitized after each individual entry.
  • Mandate advance approval for all visitors to locations: Consider requiring 48-hour notice for all visits, as well as the completion of a health-related form, the contents of which are re-confirmed upon arrival at the location.
  • Check temperature prior to admission to location: As a basic screening procedure, everyone attempting to enter the facility should be required to submit to a temperature check.

Advice on operations

Given the current unique environment, remote working schemes and staff levels should be thoroughly reviewed and adjusted as needed to ensure all key aspects of operations can be covered safely.

  • Look at different degrees of operation (ex. 100%, 80%, etc.) and determine minimum staffing levels.
  • Shift all possible duties and services to a remote framework.
  • Make full use of cloud computing capabilities.
  • Review agreements with vendors from the perspective of operational continuity.

Move to the back burner

It is also imperative to look at which prospective plans and projects should be stowed away for the time being.

Industries are in circle-the-wagons mode, and there are likely many exciting, medium- to long-term plans, projects, or technologies that are forecast to require considerable direct human involvement might best be shelved temporarily.

  • Projects that need people constantly on location to ensure progress
  • Any endeavors that would require staffing or new work processes outside the scope of fundamental operational procedure
  • Fine tuning of software issues that do not absolutely require immediate attention
  • Review any existing security-related infrastructure modification plans for short-term viability

Uptime Institute also has a webinar that provides valuable information to supplement the findings of the report.