There are some component failures you can’t necessarily mitigate against. Human error accounts for 22% of all data center outages – a number that has changed little over the past three years. That indicates that either no one’s bothered to make any progress, or that progress simply cannot be made.
As the saying goes, no matter how hard you try to idiot-proof a system, an idiot will eventually find a way to break it.
The simple fact is that people make mistakes. That’s inevitable. And in the case of data center operations, one mistake can quickly snowball out of control into a complete outage (it happens more often than you’d expect).
Maybe an employee’s operating on too little sleep and too much caffeine. Maybe someone wasn’t properly trained by leadership. Or maybe they’re simply a bungler, and it’s a miracle something like this didn’t happen sooner.
Whatever the case, here’s five ways your own employees can bring your data center to its knees – and how you can mitigate them.
Coffee, Meet Server
There’s a running joke in my circle that whenever a popular service is experiencing connectivity issues, it’s probably because someone spilled coffee on the server. The sad truth is that it does happen on occasion, absurd though that may sound. A beleaguered admin enters the server room, cup of coffee in one hand, laptop precariously balanced in the other.
One thing leads to another, and suddenly the server rack takes a hot bath.
How can this be prevented? Easy – enforce a strict zero tolerance policy. No food or drink on the server floor. Anyone who disregards the rules gets reprimanded.
The Electrical Rat’s Nest
I’ve seen far too many data centers that are just a mess of tangled cables, with no rhyme or reason as to which is which. Not only does this present a fire hazard, tangled cables can lead to unscheduled downtime, trips and falls, and a whole host of other problems. This is both a matter of laziness and a top-down managerial failure – and it needs to be addressed.
How can this be prevented? Get your cables organized. Just do it. No excuses.
Not For Personal Use
It can be tempting to use a data center machine as a personal desktop. After all, even the computers in a top-grade data center tend to be pretty powerful. Thing is, that puts the entire facility at risk, potentially exposing it to all manner of viruses (in addition to being a huge waste of time and drain on resources).
How can this be prevented? Again, put your foot down.
Free Access For Everyone!
You’ve doubtless heard the expression “too many cooks spoil the broth.” That applies to more than just cooking – it also applies to security. If you give everyone free access to everything (and that includes bringing too many people through your facility on tours), eventually, you’re going to suffer a breach or a failure somewhere along the line. That’s just probability.
How can this be prevented? No one should have access to anything they don’t absolutely need in order to do their jobs. No exceptions.
“What Does This Button Do?”
Early this year, a data center operated by Verizon was brought down, grounding flights of the low-cost US airline JetBlue. The cause? A maintenance issue – which could be anything from improperly-installed hardware to someone disconnecting something they shouldn’t have.
How can this be prevented? In all honesty, the majority of human errors that directly lead to outages are more a problem of leadership than a blunder by employees. You need to make sure everyone in your facility is properly trained, or you’ve only yourself to blame when an outage hits.
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