Maintaining a clean environment is one of the most important things we can do when it comes to keeping ourselves safe from disease. If you are a cleanroom manager, or if you work in a densely populated environment (like an office building) or in a critical environment (like a pharmacy or a data center), then you already understand the crucial importance of cleaning protocols. Today, the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have made us all understand the limitations of our normal cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
Cleanroom environments are unlike any other. They come with challenges and requirements that are specific to their construction, classification, and purpose. Not only do you and your cleaning crew need to have a thorough understanding of the regulations specific to the controlled environment, but so does everyone who enters the room. You need to establish a clear set of rules to follow to limit the amount of particulate in the room, the disruption of particles, and general contamination.
Keeping cleanrooms contaminant-free is a fundamentally crucial goal. When contaminants enter a cleanroom, it can cost a significant amount of money to remediate the facility. In extreme cases, the cost of a fast-spreading fungal, viral or bacterial infection can be human lives.
With so many responsibilities being faced by data center management today, consistent facility cleanings can easily go overlooked. Here's why regular maintenance is a good investment for your organization and a must for any data center.
Cost Benefits of Regular Data Center Cleaning
With a global scale of 138.9 billion USD in 2020, the data industry has become one of the most prolific markets in the digital era today. Data has become such a precious resource because of the benefit it brings to successful business decision making. Still, for it to have any value, it must manage it effectively. Doing so is no small task, as data center managers have their hands full with the number of responsibilities it takes to ensure the successful maintenance of the facilities which store the 21st century's most valuable commodity.
To appreciate just how vital data center management is, we'll take a look at all it entails, as well as one critical element that often goes overlooked: regular data center cleaning. As we'll see, a data center manager's job is a critical one, and although they face many technical duties, neglecting this aspect of facility management is a financial risk they cannot afford to take.
What is Data Center Management?
As with any commodity, data must be stored, maintained, and protected to uphold its value. That process looks different for a digital resource like data, so preserving the worth of these 1s and 0s takes a particular skill set.
Enter data center management. Charged with the task of maintaining the integrity of all stored and incoming data, these digital stewards face a number of IT and technical challenges, including:
- Upgrading hardware and operating systems.
- Managing data distribution.
- Optimizing storage capacity.
- Guarding against cybersecurity and hacking threats.
- Working within the financial constraints of the data center.
- Ensuring data center best practices.
A job description as challenging as a Data Center Manager requires a combination of technical and administrative expertise. When the cost of downtime and facility maintenance, coupled with that responsibility, data center management's importance that leaves no detail overlooked quickly becomes evident.
Unfortunately, one aspect of DCM that is often neglected amidst all the security protocol and OS upgrades is thorough data center cleaning. It may sound trivial at first, but failure to implement a maintenance regimen that adheres to all data center cleaning standards can be very costly. It can have a severe impact on an organization's bottom line.
Why is Regular Data Center Cleaning Important?
Today's servers are made from electrical circuits built on the micro — and sometimes nanoscale, making them more efficient and fragile than ever. The smallest dust particle or contaminant could potentially shortcircuit entire servers, resulting in expensive downtime and perhaps resulting in the loss of massive amounts of data. Because of that, DCM's must carefully clean these data centers following the strictest guidelines, and much investment goes into ensuring their optimal performance. Here are a few statistics to explain just how much is riding on the maintenance of these facilities and how much it costs when something goes wrong.
- The average data center outage costs $8,851 per minute.
- The average data center outage time is 83.6 minutes, at a cost of $740,357 per outage.
- 11% of all outages are caused by inadequate duct and air conditioning system cleaning — 10% more than those caused by weather.
- The cost of electricity for a standard 150,000 square foot data center is $100,000 per year, much of which is used for cooling.
- 60% of available cooling is wasted due to bypass airflow, resulting in wasted electricity expenditures.
- A thorough cleaning could reduce the typical data center electric bill by up to 20–25 percent.
- The International Standard for Clean Rooms, Clean Zones, and Controlled Environments requires a maximum particle count of 3.52 million particles per square meter that may exceed 0.5 micrometers.
The high data center cleaning standards that must be met show that this type of maintenance requires a technical skill that matches the servers they protect. We've compiled a list of cleaning procedures that should be practiced in any data center. Still, the takeaway from the above numbers is twofold: First, that a data center outage is a severe financial burden to be avoided at all costs, and second, that consistent data center cleaning to prevent those outages is an investment worth making.
When it comes to cleanroom cleaning solutions, ensuring you pick the right products is crucial. You need to know which solutions will meet your cleanroom standards to remain compliant with regulations. For different materials, you’ll need different solutions. For different types of cleanrooms, you’ll need different solutions. For different stages of the cleaning process, you’ll need different solutions. Remember: cleaning and disinfecting are not the same. Both are necessary, and both require different types of cleanroom cleaning solutions.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many higher education facilities are being prepared for a return to full-time, in-person classes after a period of virtual or hybrid learning. Now is the perfect time for educational facility managers to reconsider classroom cleaning and disinfecting routines to help students, faculty, and staff feel safe coming together once more.
Having a repeatable and scalable data center cleaning checklist and procedure is important for many reasons. For one, having clean facilities is just part of good operational practices. Additionally, because data centers are sensitive, controlled environments, their cleanliness is important to their functionality. If dust and debris collect on or inside of your data center equipment, that equipment could fail, putting your customers’ data at risk. When the data you are charged with protecting is put at risk, so is your company’s reputability, reliability, and bottom line.
Keeping data centers clean is an important part of keeping them up and running. Allowing dirt, dust, and other debris to build up on the plenum beneath the floor that blows cool air upward, the flooring itself designed to eliminate static electricity, and other features that keep the data center functioning puts the entire facility at risk for malfunction and downtime. When your data center goes down, your customer information is at risk as is the reputation and security of your company as a whole. You should adhere to the following data center maintenance best practices to minimize risks and operate your data center efficiently and cost-effectively.
Cleanrooms are designed to prevent particle entry, purge and filter air, provide different areas for different levels of cleanliness, and isolate spaces and air pressure as needed. However, the design of the cleanroom is not enough to keep it clean. Having a cleanroom cleaning procedure in place is incredibly important for any organization that manufactures goods in a controlled environment.