The world of work has irreversibly changed as businesses around the world have realised the relative ease and convenience of remote working. However, these businesses have also realised the importance of their IT infrastructure in achieving a successful shift of workspace.

“We have seen technology empower companies to fundamentally change the way they operate on a daily basis, providing flexibility and scalability across industries previously constrained to the formal office environment,” explains Jonathan Duncan, secure power vice-president for Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric.

However, as this technology trend has surged, so has the demand on networks and data centres. Data centres have had to manage a massive shift and surge in capacity requirements, while ensuring their employees, vendors and customers remain safe and healthy. Balancing safe operations with a booming demand presents a challenge to the data centre and a danger to those relying on it.

“This increased demand presents a concern for operations. Business continuity comes under threat when IT infrastructure can’t meet the new capacity requirements. With the shrinking South African economy currently in the spotlight, we know that there is no business that can afford downtime due to unreliable data centres,” says Duncan.

“Data centre operations and maintenance teams must be prepared to do what it takes to ensure their IT infrastructure is available and fully functional for those relying on it.”

The power of unreliable technology to halt productivity is clear the moment that internet connectivity is lost. Looking at the larger scale, the effect of deficient data centres and networks can be monumental for those reliant on them.

Data centres need to ensure they can rise to the challenge with the right mix of technology and expertise to maximise uptime and foresee critical issues before they become a problem.

Microsoft cloud services have soared by 775%, Zoom video conferencing has reported a ten-fold increase in online meetings, and online gaming usage has gone up by 75%.

“With this prominent rise in demand for digital infrastructure, data centres are clearly a growing sector. It is critical that this growth can be sustained and supported, and we believe this comes down to the reliable supply of not just technology, but skilled human resources too,” says Duncan.

No matter how well designed and implemented a facility is, things can still go wrong. Data centre teams need to be prepared, and this preparation begins with developing Emergency Operating Procedures (EOPs) for all higher risk failure/fault scenarios.

“The procedures should define the precise step-by-step procedures for safely and quickly isolating the fault and restoring service,” advises Duncan. “Clear escalation procedures should notify and bring in the right people with the right skill set at the right time.

“Having people who both truly understand the contents of the EOPs and who are capable of quickly and efficiently carrying them out is critical to being able to restore service safely and as quickly as possible.

Companies who struggle with adequate response to natural and man-made risks to their data centre and network operations should seek the assistance of critical facility operations subject matter experts.

“By implementing the best practices developed over the many years by Schneider Electric, organisations can protect their business continuity and ensure continued operations while successfully undertaking remote working,” concludes Duncan.