The growing importance of data across sectors and rising demand for information trading is pointing towards an expected boom in the number of data centres across the world. Data has been termed the ‘new oil’, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the world’s ever-growing reliance on digital infrastructure as we continue to shelter at home and online.
Data centres sit at the heart of many businesses and – as with all mission critical facilities – failure is not an option. “Data is everywhere in business, whether it’s education, finance, telecommunication, retailers, or social networking services, and that data needs to be stored somewhere reliable and safe,” explained Tony Despirito, BGIS’ Vice President – Business Development in Critical Environments. “Data centres require highly resilient infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted services that enable operations and systems to function efficiently, effectively, and above all continuously.”
BGIS has significant experience, scale and reach in this area, having provided data centre management services since its beginnings in 1992. Through internal development and a series of acquisitions, the organisation has become one of the largest providers of data centre operations services in North America. BGIS’ acquisition in 2020 of Schneider Electric’s Critical Facility Operations division significantly bolstered its capabilities, particularly around white space or that which is occupied by IT equipment, including server cabinets, storage, network gear, racks and power-distribution systems.
“What makes BGIS’ data centre offering unique is our ability to do more with less,” said Tony. “Since we can service both grey space (which includes critical support systems such as chillers, generators and switch gear) and white space, our suite of critical operations services is the most comprehensive in the industry. From commissioning, operations and maintenance, energy audits and project management through to decommissioning and even migrating to the cloud, BGIS’ service offering spans the entire lifecycle of a data centre environment.”
This comprehensive capability is applied to the more than 300 data centres and 600 MWs of data centre capacity BGIS services globally for a diverse range of private and public enterprises. The team of more than 850 specially trained engineers, technicians and facility managers have supported clients with an array of projects, including testing related to the acceptance of new systems, upgrades to IT equipment and critical support systems, and even the design and build of their data centres, including retrofits and expansions.
“In Australia, our team have been managing large-scale CAPEX projects for a major telecommunications client since 2006, which includes full data centre builds, generator installations and substation upgrades,” said Tony. “One such project saw a 75% reduction in the energy consumption of the client’s computer room air conditioning (CRAC), which is a terrific sustainability outcome.”
Technological advancements in recent years has seen more and more data centres move to virtual networks rather than physical servers, and it is not uncommon for modern data centres to have a varied mix of entry-level to enterprise class servers, resulting in a complicated environment in which IT managers must have rapid and secure access to the infrastructure they are managing from wherever they are, at any time.
“We cater to the multi-cloud environment in which we now live and manage all types of data centres, including enterprise data centres, colocation, edge, cloud and modular,” explained Tony. “As the size and scope of data centres increases, the importance of monitoring can’t be overemphasised and visibility from a remote location is imperative. In 2017, we launched our remote command centre (RCC) offering, to provide continuous monitoring and immediate support for our clients. This is a service we are now applying to data centres, and it’s especially valuable in the midst of the pandemic, when businesses and society as a whole need mission-critical infrastructure more than ever, but on-site work is not always possible for health and safety reasons.”
While the true impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the data centre environment won’t be realised for several years to come, early indications are that data centres will continue to occupy a central and increasingly indispensable place at the heart of many organisations. The ability to monitor those critical systems remotely and apply human resources on-site will still exist, highlighting the need for balance in the ‘people, process and technology’ equation.
“Many enterprises will be updating their business continuity plans to further define operations during a pandemic or similar shutdown environments,” said Tony. “Data centres are at the core of our client’s business operations, and they cannot function without access to a data centre, either on-site, at a colocation company or on the cloud. Based on BGIS’ platform, tools, knowledge and years of experience in operating and maintaining a range of critical environments, we are ideally suited to support businesses’ data centre requirements well into the future.”
Tony Despirito, Vice President – Business Development in Critical Environments
Cloe Maxwell, Communications Manager – BGIS APAC