Are you putting your IT security at risk Too many are, according to 8 Solutions managing director, Amit Mehta Working in business continuity or risk, there are many things you simply don’t want to hear, “a server has gone down” is probably one of them and maybe the one you dread most. For some, a server packing up, even for a short time, would be a disaster, for others it would merely be a big inconvenience. But, regardless of the severity of the problem it causes, you would need to know how and why it happened. You will have a responsibility to get to the bottom of the issue and find out exactly what caused it. Warranties would be called upon, assessors could be brought in, answers would be needed and blame assigned.
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. Now imagine the warranty provider has assessed the facility and deemed your warranty is void due to levels of contamination which exceed those laid out in your agreement. This might seem like an extreme scenario but in reality, a large number of facilities, both large and small, are currently running this risk. Warranty invalidation is just one area that managers need to consider. The risk of contamination due to insufficient professional cleaning could already be having a serious affect on many areas of the business. Rising power consumption and soaring costs, increased downtime and falling overall efficiency are all serious issues which can be caused by contaminates infesting a facility, data centre or comms room. At this year’s Ashrae Winter Conference, in Chicago, IBM’s senior systems and technology group engineer Joe Prisco, published a white paper
on precisely this topic. As he described, any type of contamination can cause serious problems but he started his talk with the biggest culprit, dust (or chemically inert dust to be specific).
Chemically inert dust is by far the most common cause of problems; produced by the obvious sources like dead skin cells and clothing fibres but also from some slightly less obvious places, like cardboard packaging and even ink residue from printers. If left, this type of dust can have serious consequences, clogging server intakes and affecting their ability to regulate temperature; meaning more power is needed to cool the servers and keep air flowing, increasing your power bill and affecting your bottom line. In time, these issues only get worse and if not addressed will eventually result in server failure, potentially invalidating your warranty in the process. This is becoming an even bigger issue as servers become increasingly more powerful, requiring more air to be circulated for cooling. This results in fans and air conditioning systems working even harder to compensate, in the process spreading dangerous contaminates further and increasing electricity consumption. These issues are equally prevalent in facilities of all sizes, from smaller office based comms rooms to the largest data centres - contamination does not discriminate towards just one group. To use a recent example, one major UK telecoms company, who acquired an existing data centre that wasn’t up to
Spring 2010 edition of Risk Manager Magazine