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What are top operational availability risks in data centers?

Reasons for operational downtime range from the mundane to the extreme. If your organization wants to keep its mission-critical workloads running, here are three areas to monitor.

A number of factors can pose a risk to a data center's operational availability, but three are the most pervasive:...

power failure, human error and data center-level failure.

Make sure you're aware of these elements that could cause major problems for your organization's data.

Power failure

The need for a reliable power source is one thing that even the most advanced computers have in common with the much more primitive systems from many decades ago. There are contingencies against power failures, but they may not always be adequate. Backup generators can run out of fuel. Batteries can die. It is even possible for a backup power source to malfunction.

Human error

While this operational availability risk is probably the most common, it is also the most difficult to mitigate. Human error can come in many different forms, as the following examples describe:

  • An incident in which a secretary entered a data center to give a member of the IT team an important message. While there, the secretary accidentally hit the safety shutoff that cut power to the entire data center.
  • An administrator improperly configured failover clusters, causing operational availability risk. The configuration error prevented workloads from failing over in the event of a node failure. Unless failover clusters are periodically tested, a configuration error may not be discovered until a node-level failure actually occurs.

Data center-level failure

This is not the type of event that happens on a daily basis, but, when a data center-level failure does occur, it causes major problems to operational availability. Today, mission-critical workloads are usually run on systems equipped with full hardware redundancy. Since no single point of failure exists within the system itself, the data center can become the single point of failure. An event such as a fire or a hurricane could easily impact a data center and bring down mission-critical workloads.

Next Steps

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This was last published in February 2016

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