Data Center Production SupportYou have just spun-up a new datacenter.  Doing it right, you engage vendors, VARs, consultants, your staff and anyone else that can bring experience and expertise so you reduce risk.   Equipment is installed, telecommunications are working, everything is cabled, “Green lights” are flashing all around.

When do you turn-over the data center to your production support team?

This is a critical question defining both the speed of adoption as well as the level of distraction for production support teams.

Handing over a newly built datacenter, yet to be tested, can create a lot of support work for a production support team.  Assuming the team is supporting other systems in production, this subtracts energy and mindshare from the people keeping everything running.

Turnover of a full-tested data center creates feelings of someone else’s problem being “thrown over the wall.”  The production support organization becomes disenfranchised from the outcome and might sit in judgment of the engineering team and vendors tasked to build the datacenter.

We believe the optimal solution is as follows:

  1. Have the production support team participate in vendor/VAR selection.  After all, they will be the ones dealing with the vendors long after you have built the datacenter.
  2. Engage the production support team during the design process.  A datacenter should be designed ease of maintenance, problem resolution, and growth.  Let the production support organization take ownership for defining things like monitoring, location of equipment, procedures for replacement of faulty equipment, location and method of cabling, etc.
  3. Production Support “Ownership” of the datacenter should start with testing.  It is the job of those doing the testing to prove to those supporting it that it is ready for production.  Testing needs to include the following:
    a.     Use of existing or new runbooks for support of the new environment
    b.     Testing of processes and procedures used in the support of the datacenter (i.e., disk drive fails, autodials vendor, and vendor needs to be able to get on-site to replace and dispose of disk).
    c.     Monitoring, alerting, and escalation procedures
    d.     Delivery and disposal of equipment
    e.     Reservation and tracking of “Remote Hands” activities (if procured through a colocation or cloud vendor)
    f.      Vendor response time for maintenance activities is clear and works.
  4. Ask the production support team to provide daily updates of the health of the new datacenter

Entering a datacenter buildout project with an understanding the new datacenter is not in production until your production support team has full ownership and responsibility will save time and aggravation during a migration. It also creates a more inclusive environment.