Sometimes it is difficult to know where the responsibilities of IT departments should end. Electricity supply, for instance, is the responsibility of facilities management, but, if it is interrupted, it soon becomes an IT problem.
For data centres, the treasure chest of corporate information, securing the premises and the power supply are important in ensuring the business assets are properly protected. But should IT then be responsible for mopping the floors?
The relationship between IT and FM has become more important as power consumption increases, and data becomes more critical to the running of the business. If the two teams don’t work in tandem then the consequences can be dire.
Yet the relationship can become strained, with each side failing to see the other’s point of view, business demands and technical challenges.
Even a seemingly straightforward server expansion can have a knock-on effect for FM. How much capacity the IT team adds will affect power consumption and cooling requirements. If the need for some headroom is not communicated clearly, FM may have designed in limitations based on early assumptions, to get the most energy efficient layout. Here, developing a modular approach to server deployment within data centres is an attempt to crack this problem.
But to make it effective, it is important to form strong relationships with FM professionals, who have to understand a whole range of factors - from hiring cleaners, maintaining power supply, and building maintenance - to keep business running, without damaging its reputation, at ever decreasing costs.
In order to promote this kind of understanding, and more a multi-disciplinary approach to managing data centres, the 7x24 Exchange has been formed in the US, with a chapter operating in Europe.
Joint working with colleagues is important, but don’t let that blind you to a simple truth. Data centres should not be a joint responsibility with anyone. When it comes to ensuring the business can access its data quickly and smoothly, the buck stops with IT, so this department should have ultimate control.