their standards, called in professional cleaning specialists to provide a full deep clean of the whole facility. The results not only brought the data centre in line with warranty and company standards but increased power utilisation efficiency (PUE) by almost 1.3%. That may seem like a fairly small percentage but when you consider a facility larger than a football stadium, where 60% of its total budget is consumed by energy requirements, you start to realise the affect professional cleaning can have. Professional data centre cleaning may still be seen by many as a non essential cost, rather than at the forefront of risk management, but it is this frame of mind that has the potential to cause severe problems in years to come. As a multinational business services company recently discovered, when its server popped due to zinc whisker contamination – ignoring the problem is simply short sighted and potentially far more costly. Regular use of a professional deep cleaning specialist has many benefits and is a highly cost effective way of maintaining business continuity and improving return on investment of costly capital equipment. It is important to remember that not all contamination is visible to the naked eye and even in an environment which looks clean, damage could be occurring. Particle count devices are often used to measure contamination microns per cubic metre in line with ISO standards. Larger, professional, more accurate devices are able to pull in a full cubic metre of air from several points around the facility and calculate the contaminate count based on an average of all the information. This information can be used, along with other tests, to determine the level and varieties of contamination existing in the facility. As well as dust, both corrosive and inert, there are many other different types of contamination which only a specialist will be able to identify. From zinc whisker fragments, which occur on bare metal surfaces coated with zinc in the galvanisation process, to contamination caused by construction or refurbishment and even vermin. Although a general cleaner may be able to see many of these, it requires a specialist with the appropriate equipment and training to
fully remove each and all contamination types. The value of professional facility cleaning is today still grossly underestimated and it is unfortunate that it will likely take a major failure, before many organisations regard the service as key to business continuity and the long term efficiency of their facility. As facilities and data centres continue to grow exponentially and become even more vital to a business’ operations, the risks from contamination rise proportionately and it is those who ignore those risks who will see their businesses suffer in the long term.
Top tips for risk prevention: • Only use professional data centre cleaning companies Choose a company which uses only a permanently employed, highly trained team – who have also been police checked to work in secure environments. Ensure any materials its employees use are specifically designed for the purpose and are chemically inert. Strong chemicals and water have the potential to cause corrosive dust, which could contain ionic chemical compounds like sulphur and chlorine salts, which, when wet, become corrosive or can create short circuits within equipment.
• Ensure all relevant staff are properly trained and adopt best practice Simple ideas, like creating a check list to be performed on set days each week, can have a big affect on contamination levels. These should include: •R emoving all visible debris before leaving the facility each night •C onducting a weekly spot check or white glove check to ensure dust levels are at the required level •E nforce a policy of over shoes being worn at all times inside and removed upon exiting the facility •M aking sure tack mats are in use at entrances and changed regularly •C hecking underside of raised floor panels for a bronze sheen – a sign of Zinc Whiskers. •C hanging Hepa filters in air conditioning systems on a monthly basis
• Minimise exposure between professional cleans Having strict rules on what can and cannot enter the facility will help to limit the level of contamination between professional visits. Banning all food and drink stuffs, as well as removing all packaging outside the facility, may seem like simple and obvious tips but rarely are they enforced as strictly as they should be. Limiting the number of personnel who have access is another important rule, if there is no need to be in there, don’t be. Removing all unnecessary equipment and work stations will also help stop people feeling it is acceptable to remain inside.
Spring 2010 edition of Risk Manager Magazine