By Vincent Renaud, PE
Principal, Blackdog CFS
My view has been shaped completely by the Military. My father is retired from the US Air Force and formed my thinking early – attention to detail and the need for organization. As I went through the military, this has served me well and applies extremely well to data center design and operation.
Every detail needs to be looked at and any assumption validated. Do not leave anything to chance or to someone else. If you leave it to someone else - like a wise person once told me – trust but verify.
When I was in my first project management position working on a data center, I did not understand the importance of the details associated with such a facility. I was strictly focused on cost and schedule – the two things that I was asked to focus on (and that many in the industry focus on). Later, when I was assigned to operate a data center, I became fully aware of the important relationships between the planning, design, construction, commissioning, and ultimate data center operations.
As the one in charge of operations, I wanted to have a big say in how the facility was designed and constructed as it impacted my operational scheme and ability to achieve continuous availability goals. I found that those who haven’t operated a data center simply don’t know the impact of shortsighted designs or short cuts in construction. Many engineers and tradesmen do not know the challenges of having to show up on site to deal with a UPS that shut down in the middle of the night. They don’t know what it is like to run to the electrical room when the lights flicker or go out due to a power outage. They don’t know the diligence it takes to successfully provide for continuous availability. From that point, I became a champion for the operator and the adoption of High Reliability Organizations.
After all, when the designers, constructors, and consultants all go home, it is only the operator left to make the site run!