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Should one person lead data center facility management?

Dogs and cats, Edison and Tesla, oil and water, IT and facilities. Some great entities are destined to butt heads. Is it ever possible to unite them?

In an ideal world, having one person in charge of facilities and IT would make sense. Unfortunately, that isn't...

possible in the real world. 

The facilities person is not just in charge of data center facilities management, but the organization's other buildings and plants as well; the data center is just one part of this portfolio. The facilities manager doesn't have enough time or resources to focus on the data center in the way that is required -- nor will he/she have the desired expertise on specialized IT-related facility operations and requirements, or the IT equipment itself. 

It's better to have an IT team member responsible for the data center as a facility. This leader would report to facilities and IT

This person should have just enough knowledge on the facility and IT equipment to act as the go-between for the two groups, and make sure any change or issues raised by either team are fully communicated to the vested parties. For example, if the facilities department is re-routing a power feed, perhaps the data center could use a termination to cover a requirement for high-density equipment. The IT team might want to replace standard rack-mounted systems with a converged/engineered infrastructure platform; maybe it is time to review the cooling systems in the data center facility to accommodate this restructuring of IT equipment. Having one person to see the issues from both sides eliminates hassles.

The biggest issue when uniting data center facility management under one leader is making sure this person doesn't "go native." Since they will likely spend more time in IT, they may become more IT-focused, losing the skills and external viewpoint they need to view things from the physical site point of view. Make sure the person spends a significant amount of time with facilities and goes to facility-focused events.

This was last published in November 2014

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