How best to recruit within the Data Centre market. Are we doing it right?

To properly answer this question, we need to rewind a little bit. I’ve been in the recruitment industry now for the best part of five years and Data Centres specifically for the majority of that time. Like most recruiters out there I would consider myself an extrovert. I like to think I am personable and easy to talk to. However, one thing that is not as commonly found (in my experience) is I am a critical thinker and a very reflective person (and not just in terms of my rather large and shiny forehead).

I come from a customer service/management background working for companies that encouraged creative thinking in solving problems and a major part of that has always been reflecting on the past. One thing that has really challenged me during my time recruiting is how difficult it is to do this. A combination of the fast-paced nature of this industry giving you little time to sit back and take stock along with the fact that asking for feedback on the recruitment process itself is for some reason a seemingly taboo subject.

In my time I have tried a number of different ways of recruiting – contingent (multi-agency), exclusive (sole agency) and over the last 12-18 months retained (partnership working). I’ve been thinking about whether we are going about recruiting for our sector in the right way. So, let’s break it down.

Below are my top 5 tips (in no particular order) for companies and even my fellow recruiters on how best to recruit in this market.

1. Know your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

However, you choose to set up your recruitment function the most important thing is making sure you deliver a consistent and appealing message to your given talent pool. Everyone wants to be part of a story and yes, a job move might not be as exciting as a character arc in a superhero movie, but everyone wants to see themselves going on a journey and achieving their potential. Almost every Data Centre company I deal with are embarking on a period of significant growth so get that message out there. Ask yourselves where you see the business in 3-5 years and what this particular position you are looking for will do to help get you there. Even if right now your particular company or site are going through some challenges share those and make the talent pool aware of what you are going through and why, usually (and hopefully) it is to get to a better place once through it. The companies that I most enjoy working with and that are most successful in recruiting top talent have this nailed down.

2. Refine your process, then refine it some more and some more… (you get the point)

The marketplace is becoming an increasingly competitive one. With an only growing need for more Data Centre professionals there is nothing that will lose you more candidates than a lengthy and pointlessly drawn-out process. An interview process is often a window into seeing how a company operates. What does yours say about you? What would it say to a candidate if your interview process is long winded and filled with pointless additional stages and unnecessary tests? With the emergence and increasing normality associated with video interviewing it is now easier than ever to have a quick and simple process. The days of 5+ interview stages over many months should (in theory) be over.

3. In-house vs External

I’m sure the expectation here would be for me to bash any in-house approach but having worked within both systems I won’t be doing that. I have come across some excellent in-house recruiters and recruitment functions and also continue to hear horror stories of poor practice from other agencies that operate in the Data Centre space, so this is never going to be a clear-cut answer. In my experience no matter your set up, things are generally smoother if you have someone internally dedicated to recruitment (and by dedicated to recruitment ideally, I don’t mean someone who has a huge amount of other HR responsibilities with recruitment added on at the end!). Given the size of the industry now, the volume of roles that are often looked for and the hugely competitive marketplace with a diminishing pool of qualified candidates I do not see any way to function without the need for specialist external support in some capacity moving forward.

4. Contingent v Exclusive v Retained

When I first started out, I worked extensively in the contingent way. Roles were given out to multiple agencies with the belief that the more agencies that worked a role the more access you would get to the market. It has been clear to me that this doesn’t work in Data Centres. All that ends up happening is mixed messages sent to the marketplace and agencies squabbling over candidates. I quickly transitioned to working with key clients on an exclusive basis. This often came from the point of being a trusted contact who they knew would deliver and most importantly had access to candidates others didn’t due to our specialising in the market. Whilst this worked well there was still no guarantee of success and it felt like something was lacking.

I then undertook some training on the Retained model. I’ve utilised that way of working ever since for any roles that are more challenging (senior hires, multiple needs or historic needs that had proven impossible to fill). The feedback from my clients has been amazing. The sector as a whole does seem to be moving away from contingent for the most part and I think that is for the best. Those that are still recruiting contingently I know are finding it harder than everyone else. 

5. Supplier vs Partner

For me this is the area that I have seen the most change in my time and where I can see the future of the Data Centre recruitment shifting towards. Clients I work with and new companies joining the market no longer want just a supplier. They don’t just want an agency to come in and simply fill some jobs. The industry needs more than that. It needs specialists who can help guide and support their clients through growth with up-to-date market information. It needs more discussions to be had around bringing new talent into the industry, looking at the next generation and improving on our recruitment of a diverse workforce. It needs recruitment partners not suppliers.

This way of working lends itself to building stronger relationships with trusted partners who can access the full talent pool and have the knowledge to push back if what the client is looking for isn’t out there right now. If we want to continue to grow and improve as an industry and sector, we need to work smarter and that can only happen with collaboration and movement in this direction. 

Summary

Overall, it feels like things are moving in the right direction. As with any growing industry it is going to take time to get things right. I am having more and more conversations with clients about the future which can only be a good thing. As always within the Data Centres market the future is looking bright.

Hopefully you found something useful to take away from this article. I’d love to get your opinion, whether you are an internal recruiter or manager within industry. Let me know what you think and where you see the market heading in terms of its recruitment strategy. 

Written by Ben Palmer, Sector Lead FM & Operations

Contact him Here

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”​ –Richard Branson

I wrote a short post on retention last week and it received a lot of interest so I thought I would go into a bit more detail in an article.

If you are an employer within the data centre sector then you need to thinking about retention. The market is moving fast and the war for talent is well and truly in full swing. A quote I like regarding this is as follows;

“Start the retention process when the person is still open to staying and not after they’ve already told you they’re leaving.”

We have all been there – A key employer resigns because they have a better offer elsewhere and you then start the process of trying to keep them. At this stage it is normally too late.

I am sure you all spend hours working on your customer retention strategies, but do you spend time working on your employee retention strategy?

There are a number of companies that focus heavily on retention and as a result they retain a high percentage of their staff, but what are they doing?

They increase the flow of communication – How can you know what your employees are thinking if you don’t ask them? You need to create an open way of communication at all levels of your organisation. What is important to a CEO may not be important to an engineer, every level needs the opportunity to communicate. When you have the feedback, discuss the ideas, and feedback back to your employees about what you will implement and by when. Communication is critical!

“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.” Timothy R. Clark

They ensure each individual employee has a career path – Don’t assume that all employees are happy in their current role. Ensure all levels have the opportunity to develop, whether that is to develop at the level they are at or to develop to the next role in the career ladder. As soon as you promote someone you should put them on a development plan to reach the next level. The majority of people need a goal, they need something to work towards and as an employer you should ensure every single person has that opportunity. Manage this correctly and you will limit the amount of people that leave to achieve the next step on the career ladder.

Tied in with a career path is learning & development – Everyone should have the opportunity to develop knowledge within their role. A number of organisations offer in house or external training courses to ensure employees have access to development opportunities.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” –Richard Branson

They recruit well – Having a defined recruitment strategy will improve retention. Have a structure to your process and recruit to your company values, not just the skills required for the role. Recruit people that match your company values and sell them your company vision, tell them why people want to work for you and therefore why they should join. And if they don’t fit your values, don’t recruit them no matter how great they appear on paper.

They recruit via direct referrals – If you can recruit like minded people that are recommended by your existing employees you will improve retention. If you can push direct referrals you will notice a large impact on employee retention.

They focus on employing a diverse workforce – I have worked with a number of clients recently that have been focussing on recruiting diverse talent and establishing a diversity & inclusion strategy. It is a well-known fact that diverse workforces have a better retention rate. You can also gain fresh ideas and views that help to improve your company culture. Go big on diversity and look to other sectors for diverse talent.

“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” Ola Joseph

They have a defined company culture that is built on company values – This can’t just be writing on the wall, you need values that mean something and values that create a unique culture. A team working together will always have greater retention than a group of individuals. Work with your employees to define your values and let that create your culture. What makes your company great? And what makes a great employee within your company

“Treating employees benevolently shouldn’t be viewed as an added cost that cuts into profits, but as a powerful energizer that can grow the enterprise into something far greater than one leader could envision.” Harold Schultz – founder and former CEO of Starbucks

They regularly review remuneration / packages – It is easy to forget to review existing employees’ salaries and packages but it is essential that you do. As talent is becoming more in demand packages always increase. You can easily lose a key employer simply because you left them on the same pay scale as when they joined the company two years ago. Make sure you regularly review based on market conditions.

They give recognition – Dont undervalue the impact of employee recognition. Celebrate the small wins as well as the big wins. Share the success with all levels of your organisation, make everyone feel a part of the journey.

 “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.”

And finally they are flexible – If you are not offering flexibility right now then you are in trouble. Make sure employees have the option to work from home if required (if possible for the role) and ensure you offer flexibility on shift patterns. Flexibility also comes in with employee remuneration – are you offering everyone the same package or can they choose what is most beneficial to them? As always ask your employees what they want and work with them to find a solution.

A retention strategy needs to be unique to your organisation, it is not a one size fits all approach. Engagement with your staff is the first step on the road to developing a strategy. So why not start today by asking your employees how you can improve your organisation?

And if you are an employee, take your ideas to your employer. Offer solutions and not problems. If they don’t listen, then there are plenty of companies out there that will. 

You cant stop employees leaving unless you have a plan to make them stay”

Top tips to improve diversity & inclusion in the data centre industry..

I recently decided to take a look at the key learnings from my conversations on the Inside Data Centre Podcast and share them in the hope that they offer value to people in the DC sector.

Diversity and inclusion has been a topic on a number of my podcasts, and for very good reason, but what have I learnt?

Check out the below list for 7 tips on how the data centre sector can improve diversity and inclusion..

Talk about D&I – We don’t talk about these issues enough and the only way to try to solve them is to discuss with others. Be open with your colleagues about D&I and create the framework to have open discussions on the topic.

Create role models – Highlight the role models in the industry to let everyone know what can be achieved. We all rely on role models for inspiration and guidance, those people that have walked the path will have a much greater impact on the younger generation that is facing the same challenge.

Take your message to the target audience – Don’t expect people to come to you. It is imperative that you take the message to the people you want to listen. Identify your audience and go to them.

Industry collaboration – We are greater together. This isn’t a challenge one person or one company can solve. The whole industry needs to unify to ensure that diversity and inclusion is a high priority for everyone.

Provide ongoing education – Does everyone in your organisation understand the benefits of having a more diverse workforce? Do they understand that D&I is a real challenge within the sector? Make sure everyone has access to education on the topic.

Analyse your recruitment strategy – Have you provided unconscious bias training? Review your whole process from marketing through to hire. Utilise the technology available to improve your strategies and process. 

Provide the opportunities – We have to offer the opportunities in order to improve D&I. Let people into your organisation to see how you work and what the industry can offer, and then give them the opportunity to be part of your business. 

What do you think? What more can we do to enhance diversity and inclusion in the industry? It would be great to hear your views..

5 Top tips for anyone looking to work in the data centre industry..

I wrote this as a post last week and I had a lot of messages about the topic so I thought I would make it an article so more people can benefit from the advice.

A lot of people ask me what are my main learnings from my guests on the Inside Data Centre Podcast so I thought I would share some of my top tops that I have learnt along the way.

First up are my top 5 tips for anyone looking to work in the data centre industry

1) You don’t need to be an engineer to work in the DC sector. This is a common misconception from those outside the industry but there are a broad variety of careers available in the sector, and high demand in all of them. Whether you work in HR, Finance, development, data analytics, construction, etc, there are plenty of opportunities available across the globe. 

2) Try and experience a variety of roles when you first start your career. If you can get a broad understanding of all aspects of the industry it will benefit your long-term career. If you worked in design and then moved to site you will understand the process from both view points. 

3) Research is important to understand the sector and demonstrate your desire to work in the DC industry. Listen to podcasts, read articles, attend events (online..).. Knowledge is key to success and it also demonstrates a genuine interest to start a career in the sector. Employers are looking for people that are motivated to make a genuine difference. 

4) Reach out to people in the industry to ask for advice – most people will be more than happy to help. The industry is full of great people that want to help, you just need to ask. If you need some advice ask an expert, just do it in a way that shows an appreciation for the other persons time and effort. You will be surprised by how many people are happy to help. 

5) Do it!! What are you waiting for? 

I ask everyone the same question at the end of the podcast – ‘If you could give one piece of advice to those looking to work in the sector what would it be?’. 

I do the hard work; you just need to listen to the answers..

What are your top tips?

Focus on the solution, not on the problem.. Solving the data centre talent shortage.

Talent and how to attract it is becoming a more frequent topic of conversation as the data centre industry expands. The Uptime Institute has today released the first global staffing report : ‘The people challenge: Global data center staffing forecast 2021-2025’. The report highlights the challenges we face over the next five years (link at the end of the article).

The question for me is not what are the challenges? The question needs to be are we each doing enough to overcome these challenges?

I am lucky that in doing my day job and the ‘Inside Data Centre Podcast’ I talk with people across the globe about the sector and the challenges we face. Below are some of my take-aways from these conversations regarding how we as an industry can help manage the increasing talent challenge.

Branding

If you have never heard of the data centre industry, then you are not going to choose a career in the sector. This is something we can all help to overcome, spread the message of data centres to schools, colleges, work colleagues, friends, etc. Share content on social media, tell everyone what the industry is and why you should want to work in it. And when someone asks what you do for a living be proud of the industry and what it represents.

Diversity

Let’s be honest the industry is dominated by middle aged white men (like myself!) and we need to attract a more diverse workforce. The workforce is also all likely to reach retirement age at the same time; we need the next generation take over the reigns. We need to attract people from minorities and encourage them into the industry. Fresh ideas will only help take the industry forward. Look to other sectors and industries for this talent, open your doors to those that want to explore the industry and encourage new ways of thinking. If they can’t come to the industry we need to take the industry to them.

Retention

We spend hours talking about attraction but have you ever worked on retention? Keeping the best talent in the industry is essential. Not only because we need the people, but we also need the knowledge. Sharing that knowledge is imperative or we risk losing it. Create a great culture, make people feel valued, be open to new ideas, and encourage flexibility.

Education

There needs to be more data centre specific education programmes. Whether that is for those entering the industry or those looking to gain cross sector training, we need some kind of education to upskill these people. I regularly get contacted by people asking to recommend courses, which is easier said than done! Work with the educational providers to produce sector specific education programmes.

Networking events

I don’t mean the ones where we all get together and talk mega-watts and have a few drinks. I mean events where we talk about these challenges and work out how to solve them as a community. We are stronger together and the talent challenge is one we all have to face in the coming years.

 Are you looking for the impossible?

Sometimes I have to be honest with clients and tell them that what they are looking for doesn’t exist and that they need to adapt their criteria. Asking for 10 years data centre experience eliminates a large portion of the workforce. We need to think outside the box, we need to look to other sectors, and we need to be flexible.

We can do more…

There are many things we can all do to help manage these challenges and as I said on a recent episode of my podcast: if we all help one person to join the industry, we will achieve our mission. So what are you waiting for?

You can download the Uptime Institute report here – https://link.uptimeinstitute.com/jBrI0225R005B0o0AZ80n00

Is there a skills shortage or are we not looking hard enough?

Is there a skills shortage or are we not looking hard enough?

Yes, there is a skills shortage. Whether you are talking about the construction, engineering, or IT element of the data centre sector there is definitely a skills shortage. In a recent survey (see below) by Business Critical Solutions 90% of respondents anticipate a decline in the supply of staff and 70% believe that this decline will be accompanies by a rise in demand.

https://www.bcs.uk.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/77975-IX-Consulting-Data-Centre-Report_SUMMER-2021-screen.pdf

But this skills shortage is not specific to the data centre sector. According to government research in the UK 186000 skilled engineers are needed annually until 2024 to plug the gap (this will never be achieved!) and almost 20% of the current workforce are due to retire by 2024.

So, when you have a shortage across all associated sectors where do you look for staff? And how do you manage the problem?

There is obviously no defined answer to the questions, but a number of elements that you can implement to manage the solution.

Lets address the elephants in the room…

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Not everyone can transfer to the data centre sector.

It is not simply a big shed full of M&E services. Data Centres are complex facilities that are designed and built at the cutting edge of engineering. They are built at pace and the clients are demanding. You need to have certain skills to be successful in the sector. Sometimes the role is urgent and data centre experience is simply essential for the role, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Not all clients are flexible enough in their approach.

Are you recruiting or skills or are you recruiting for attributes? Do you need someone with 5 years data centre experience, or can you consider someone with 2? Can you look at someone from a similar critical engineering sector? Is it essential they have data centre experience?

What can you do?

Candidates that want to work in the sector need to highlight their relevant experience when applying for roles. You need to reach out to those in the sector for advice and guidance. You need to read about the industry, attend events, immerse yourself in the sector. The right attitude can take you a long way.

Organisations need to adapt the recruitment process. Are your job descriptions/adverts too specific to the data centre sector? Are your interviews skills based or focussed on attributes? Do you have a diverse interview panel? Are you looking for skills in other sectors? Do you have an internal training programme to educate people about the sector? Have you established an entry level training and education scheme? Do you have a unique proposition?

So what is the answer to the question?

The answer is yes there is a skills shortage and yes there is a shortage of people looking outside of the sector for skills. You cant solve one without the other, as always a challenge is better solved with collaboration.

The long term solution is investing in training and development, and increasing the exposure of the sector so that data centres is seen as a career of choice.

The short term solution is being agile and adaptable. Look for great people and find them a role, don’t simply look for people that match a job description as it is very likely you will never find them.

And collaborate as an industry to come up with long term solutions…

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Who are DataX Connect?

We are excited to announce the launch of DataX Connect! Over the last 14 years, Highfield has achieved some incredible milestones and accomplishments within the Technical Engineering and Construction recruitment market and we continue to do so. However, in response to the Data Centre sector rapidly expanding. We recognised that there was an opportunity to ensure that our overall positioning in the data centre sector needed to be more specialized. It is an opportunity for us to work uniquely within the sector and in turn ensure we provide an exceptional service to both clients and candidates. Subsequently, through thorough communication within our company we decided to rebrand our Data Centre team as DataX Connect.

Why now?

The success of the industry has provided opportunities across hundreds of countries, including the UK. The forecast growth rate is 17% annually and in 2019 $170bn was spent on the industry. It is providing countless employment opportunities across the world, and we plan to work with leading data centre organisations and connect them with the best talent in the industry. We understand the challenges faced when recruiting talent, retaining staff, and job seeking in the data centre market. We offer much more than simply a recruitment service.

Despite the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought, the move to digitization has accelerated, stimulating investment in building data centres across the world. For us, we saw this as an opportunity to be innovative and a chance to position DataX Connect as a global data centre recruitment specialist.

Why change from Highfield Professional Solutions?

The rebranding process was carried out with the intention to communicate clearly exactly what we do in the sector. At Highfield, we have had a great success with securing leading clients. We want to build upon our strong, trusted relationships with our clients and candidates and provide an even better service that adds real value to their recruitment process.

Becoming a specialist in the sector and operating in specific markets, our knowledge and experience ensures that we find the best possible solutions for clients and candidates. We work globally to connect employers and professionals together. To do this effectively, our rebranding process has enabled us to create bespoke recruitment solutions that are flexible, agile and adaptive to your needs.

New website & Logo

The design of the new website will allow our current and perspective clients and candidates to find useful information about the markets we work in as well as the recruitment solutions we offer.

Additionally, we built the website with the thought in mind that we wanted to provide as much value to people within the sector, as well as promoting the industry as best we can. We did this by creating a Media page which informs you on everything you need to know about Data Centres including: the history, growth forecast, challenges, finding vacancies, perks and opportunities as well as videos introducing our team members. Not to mention, we have blog content, an industry newsletter and a weekly ‘Inside Data Centre Podcast’ created by our Director, Andy Davis. He interviews people in the data centre sector and discusses their career, as well as what advice they can share with anyone looking to work in the sector. The response and feedback has been incredible, click here for his latest episode with Matt Gurr.

Our goals

The outcome of the rebrand is to become a global market leader in data centre recruitment. The new logo and website helps us to showcase our expertise and dedication to providing the best service to our clients and candidates. For us the opportunities will be endless. By becoming a niche brand we can create more opportunities for not only our staff, but for people around the world.

We are excited to announce the launch of DataX Connect! Over the last 14 years, Highfield has achieved some incredible milestones and accomplishments within the Technical Engineering and Construction recruitment market and we continue to do so. However, in response to the Data Centre sector rapidly expanding. We recognised that there was an opportunity to ensure that our overall positioning in the data centre sector needed to be more specialized. It is an opportunity for us to work uniquely within the sector and in turn ensure we provide an exceptional service to both clients and candidates. Subsequently, through thorough communication within our company we decided to rebrand our Data Centre team as DataX Connect.

Why now?

The success of the industry has provided opportunities across hundreds of countries, including the UK. The forecast growth rate is 17% annually and in 2019 $170bn was spent on the industry. It is providing countless employment opportunities across the world, and we plan to work with leading data centre organisations and connect them with the best talent in the industry. We understand the challenges faced when recruiting talent, retaining staff, and job seeking in the data centre market. We offer much more than simply a recruitment service.

Despite the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought, the move to digitization has accelerated, stimulating investment in building data centres across the world. For us, we saw this as an opportunity to be innovative and a chance to position DataX Connect as a global data centre recruitment specialist.

Why change from Highfield Professional Solutions?

The rebranding process was carried out with the intention to communicate clearly exactly what we do in the sector. At Highfield, we have had a great success with securing leading clients. We want to build upon our strong, trusted relationships with our clients and candidates and provide an even better service that adds real value to their recruitment process.

Becoming a specialist in the sector and operating in specific markets, our knowledge and experience ensures that we find the best possible solutions for clients and candidates. We work globally to connect employers and professionals together. To do this effectively, our rebranding process has enabled us to create bespoke recruitment solutions that are flexible, agile and adaptive to your needs.

New website & Logo

The design of the new website will allow our current and perspective clients and candidates to find useful information about the markets we work in as well as the recruitment solutions we offer.

Additionally, we built the website with the thought in mind that we wanted to provide as much value to people within the sector, as well as promoting the industry as best we can. We did this by creating a Media page which informs you on everything you need to know about Data Centres including: the history, growth forecast, challenges, finding vacancies, perks and opportunities as well as videos introducing our team members. Not to mention, we have blog content, an industry newsletter and a weekly ‘Inside Data Centre Podcast’ created by our Director, Andy Davis. He interviews people in the data centre sector and discusses their career, as well as what advice they can share with anyone looking to work in the sector. The response and feedback has been incredible, click here for his latest episode with Matt Gurr.

Our goals

The outcome of the rebrand is to become a global market leader in data centre recruitment. The new logo and website helps us to showcase our expertise and dedication to providing the best service to our clients and candidates. For us the opportunities will be endless. By becoming a niche brand we can create more opportunities for not only our staff, but for people around the world.

Can They Contain The Strain? The Data Centre & The Pandemic

Even though data centre staff are deemed as ‘critical workers’ – footfall traffic at the sites has been scaled down massively. As it stands, most facilities have enough tools and ‘remote hands’ services in place to allow their customers to manage and monitor their infrastructure remotely.

Being Prepared

In response to the pandemic, we have found that organizations have fallen into three camps; those who can quickly adapt and who are geared up for remote working; those who feel unprepared for the change; and, of course, many who simply can’t comply, including care workers, hospital staff and those that work in providing crucial data infrastructure, such as data centres.

Nevertheless, whatever camp they fall into, it is essential and necessary to remain productive and profitable, even when staff are not physically in the building.

Staff Meetings Go Virtual

Chief Revenue Officer from a North Carolina-based colocation provider, Patrick Doherty says that all staff that are non-essential are now working from home. For meetings, they are using video conferences, as well as one-on-ones to make sure employees feel connected.

However, for sales staff it has been more challenging, as they would normally visit potential customers along with data centre tours. Although, Doherty quotes that they have adapted and instead, created virtual video tours. Current and potential customers can see inside, at the same level of detail as they would during a physical walk through. Despite the crisis, he says, there is still a demand for tours.

Remote Data Centre Management Tools

For colocation providers, experts say they are generally in good shape – this is because the providers previously had systems in place for remote monitoring and teach support requests. To meet customer needs, they are using online data centre infrastructure management customer portals for remote monitoring and IT support according to a report by Uptime Institute.

Promotion of colocation’s remote-hand services – these cover IT equipment moves and additions, changes and maintenance, troubleshooting of power, IT, router, firewall, and shipping and receiving on customers.

Equinix

On March 23rd Equinix closed its data centres in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Following the COVID-19 protection measures, they have said that all visitors, customers, customer contractors and non-critical Equinix vendors will not be permitted to enter the IBX facilities.

The decision to restrict data centre access was said to be “made in accordance with our business continuity plans to minimize the risk of impact within our data centres while maximizing our ability to operate and maintain our services on behalf of our customers”.

Additionally, Equinix have stated that “In the event a complete lockdown is required, Equinix is prepared to maintain the necessary on-site staffing levels required to support continuous operations”. Measures have been taken whereby no more than five people per party are welcomed – everything visitors touch are frequently swabbed with various destroying liquids.

The company’s optimum goal is to make sure facilities do not become infected and their employees are healthy.

Complete Remote Automation

Andrew Bishop CEO of Nuco Technologies runs automated data centres in the UK that can be remotely controlled right down to the door locks. Amidst the coronavirus, he is keen to promote the benefits of this type of operation.

One of the company’s Tier 4 data centres in Milton Keynes is completely remotely run, with staff operators using an IP phone accessible from the main switchboard. Any customers that need to visit their racks are carefully tracked, he says “We can just activate a fob and they can access the data centre. Our systems track them through the centre and when they leave, we expire it.

For the few staff that are working within the facility, they have to implement a new cleaning regime, for example, if someone accesses the data centre, the workers will then have to clean all of the door handles and surfaces to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Scalability Boosts Cloud Platforms

As the crisis has placed a premium on speed and scalability (according to 451 Research), for some requirement, cloud platforms will become more attractive. As a result of the virus, we can expect some web applications to dramatically increase with traffic, while others might dwindle to near nothing. For this changing demand, scalable cloud applications should be able to grow shrink dependant on the demand. For those who are in the suffering from lower hits, the scale down can save them cash. However, for those experiencing surge, the cloud lets websites continue to perform under pressure.

The COVID-19 crisis will eventually subside, though, it’s impact will be with the industry for some time. Sami Badri, senior equity analyst at credit Suisse says “virtual connectivity is a must. It’s no longer a debate. It’s now a case of survival, relevance and productivity. You’re starting to see permanent shifts”.

Future Workforce

Existing experiences have shown us that those who were early adaptors of virtual run businesses, or encourage remote working, are the ones reaping the benefits. Coronavirus has undoubtedly changed people’s attitudes and behaviours. The Data centre strategy, will after this, become even more critical in ensuring the infrastructure is powerful, safe and reliable for people to work wherever they want, whenever they want.

What’s Next?

The industry is trying to work out new ways in dealing with the pandemic as lockdown is not sustainable for the industry. Whilst data centres such as 4D Data Centres have 85% of their staff working from home. There are only few going in to keep the data centres open and to make sure all the facilities are kept running – but it’s really the bare minimum.

Many data centre operators have confirmed that remote working methods will continue even when the crisis has passed. Customers have been stopped from making any visits to their computer systems in their data centre unless urgent.

Allan Bosley, information managers at Ark Data Centres, said ‘We are still understanding the impact”. He goes on to say “It would be very difficult to make decisions about the medium and longer terms.’