One of the main benefits touted by many managed service providers is that their clients need not worry about maintaining their own hardware. For many businesses, this is an incredibly attractive offer: Having the vendor take care of upgrades and ensure network components work frees up considerable time for their internal IT team, allowing the clients' employees to focus on other mission-critical activities.
Have you ever wondered what best practices go into hardware maintenance on the service provider's side? As a decision-maker currently using managed services or looking to migrate there, it is worthwhile to understand how this maintenance is performed. So let's look at how service providers maintain the components that ensure your services are up and running.
A team of experts
First and foremost, it's important to note that managed service providers staff their workplace with IT experts, educated and knowledgeable to ensure hardware components are operating optimally. These staff members have been specially trained in best practices for maintaining hardware.
For smaller organizations without an in-house IT team, adopting managed services can prove much simpler. Hiring individuals with the specialized skills to maintain on-premises hardware can be a painstaking process, not to mention expensive. Instead of funneling capital into such an initiative, it is often much more cost-effective to leverage the services of a vendor with an expert team in place.
Ensuring the proper environment
When looking at the big picture, maintenance includes not only the actual servers and network switches, but the data center facility itself. The lack of a proper environment in which to operate could cause damage to these sensitive machines, making the maintenance of the data center just as important as that of the servers.
One of the biggest facility concerns is ensuring the proper temperature and airflow in a data center environment. Servers and other components create a considerable amount of heat, which, if not removed, could cause hardware to overheat and fail. These are the best practices vendors use for facility maintenance:
- Deploy blanking panels to block off empty spaces between server racks, helping to stimulate airflow throughout the room.
- Seal in under-floor cabling with floor grommets to prevent unnecessary loss of cool air.
- Position air ducts so that outlets are above the front of server racks and the return channel is above the rear of the rack.
- Utilize hot and cold aisle rack layouts to help remove excess heat and prevent hot spots from forming.
Deploying a preventative maintenance program
Electronic Environments also noted that preventative maintenance has become much more commonplace in today's data centers, especially as researchers have found that 90 to 95 percent of all unplanned outages come as a result of improperly managed hardware.
"Preventative data center maintenance is one of the key approaches to protecting a facility through detection of potential points of failure before the deficiency initiates a system-wide malfunction," Electronic Environments contributor Kim Otte wrote. "Neglecting to maintain equipment or implementing improper data center maintenance procedures are two of the biggest reasons why mission-critical equipment fails."
The majority of preventative maintenance focuses on the key components that are at high risk for failure, including batteries, capacitors and fans. When these items are maintained at regular intervals, there is a dramatically lower chance for malfunction.
Refreshing servers: Deciding when it's time for an upgrade
Managed service providers are also in charge of deciding when servers have become outdated and the facility is in need of new hardware. As this can be an expensive endeavor, it is beneficial to have a vendor with an expert team responsible for this decision.
This is just one of the benefits of using managed services. Instead of worrying about maintaining and managing the hardware yourself, utilize the services of an industry-leading service provider like Hostway.