Through our Critical Facility Operations service, Schneider Electric manages data centers of all sizes around the world. In talking with some of the Critical Facility Managers (CFMs) who are responsible for data center operations in these facilities, it’s clear they share at least four attributes.
Before diving in, though, it’s important to draw a distinction between “critical” facility management and “facility management.” A traditional office building, school, or retail store will have a facility manager who takes care of the building, making sure HVAC systems are functioning well, the roof doesn’t leak, the lights stay on and so forth – all certainly important for the comfort and well-being of the building occupants.
But the stakes are far higher in a critical facility such as a data center. Many customers have zero tolerance for downtime, so plans must be in place to deal with everything from routine upgrades to widespread power outages without missing a beat.
Meeting those kind of demands puts a lot of pressure on the people who operate data centers. In hiring Critical Facility Managers, here are four traits to look for to ensure the manager will excel at the job.
Four Traits of Highly Effective Data Center Managers
1. Dedication: Running a facility that operates 24x7x365 is “not just a 9 to 5 job where you punch in, punch out,” says Carlos Santiago, a Schneider Electric CFM. “You are responsible for the operations of a facility, of someone’s business – the core of their business.” He and his team perform walkthroughs on every shift, visiting every room of the data center three times per day to ensure all is well. That kind of attention to detail pays off. “In the 5 years my team and I have been maintaining this data center, we have had zero downtime,” Santiago says. “I honestly take a lot of pride in my work and that’s what I try to instill in my team.”
2. Aversion to risk: CFMs are big on documentation, to ensure everything is done properly the first time, with “no surprises,” as CFM Jim Moriarty puts it. “When you have a written plan, it’s a lot easier to be successful,” he says. It’s not unusual to have subcontractors on site in a data center – whether electricians, mechanical companies, plumbers or security experts. The written procedures apply to them as well, “to make sure everything is done the way we want it done,” Moriarty says. “The Schneider Electric Critical Facility Operations solution reduces risk. That is our main goal, to mitigate risk.”
3. Deep experience, and a deep bullpen: All CFMs go through an extensive training program that provides them with the knowledge and experience they need to succeed. That training pulls from the years of experience of the CFMs who have come before, and all they’ve learned about effective data center operations. But the support doesn’t end once a CFM is assigned to a facility. “They didn’t just leave me out here on an island; I can call for any assistance at any time,” says CFM Donald Matzker. Every CFM has the “full weight of Schneider Electric behind them,” he says, including vast experience and support from quality systems and safety professionals, as well as the knowledge built into the programs and processes they follow. In fact, every client site is audited by a team of experts to determine areas for innovation based on Schneider’s experience operating best in class facilities around the world.
4. Transparent, customer-first attitude: Schneider Electric CFMs understand how important their data centers are to their customer’s business, and never lose sight of it. “It’s important to give customers what they deserve. They expect 100% uptime and we don’t expect to give them anything less,” as Matzker puts it. At the same time, the CFMs routinely keep customers apprised of what’s happening in their data center – and why. “We bring a peace of mind to our customer; it’s that simple,” Matzker says.
Dedication, aversion to risk, deep experience and a transparent, customer first attitude: those attributes are good to have for any employee, but essential for a CFM.
Access Free e-Book on Data Center Facility Operations
I encourage you to check out this short video to hear more of what our CFMs have to say. We’ve also captured some of what we’ve learned about critical facility management in a free e-book, the 12 Essential Elements of Data Center Facility Operations. Download it now to learn more about the policies and procedures our CFMs follow every day to ensure their data centers don’t go down.