Managing Data Centers and People is Different, Right?

The heat of summer reminds me that the critical infrastructures that we rely on to move data are fragile and require levels of management. But these systems stored in our data centers are just machines and the people that we have to manage them are very different than the systems themselves, requiring diffent styles of management.

Well, yes and no. Interestingly there are some parallels found between managing technical people and managing the systems that empower technical people. Listed here are some that seem relevant.


Data Centers control environments:

For those that have never been in a data center, imagine rows of refrigerator sized racks that house computers. This concentration of computing moves a lot of data, but it also produces heat. Data centers are cooled by large systems that distribute cooling directly to the front of the racks and whisks the heat away from the back of the racks. This controlled environment is similar to a good managers role for his people.

Your employees should be shielded from the heat of the administrative pressures found in the offices. Your job is to control this heat and steer your data center resources towards effectively computing ways out of the trouble spots. If your employees are taking heat from other areas without support from you, they will fail.


Data Centers are monitored and provide metrics:

Ensuring that power, heat and in most cases humidity are controlled, any good data center constantly monitors these variables and notifies managers when variations are out of the norm. Good employees will tell you when they need support, but only when they supported enough to do so. Your job as a manager is to open the door and walk through it, not just hope that your employees will find you.

Walking into your data center will also provide you with metrics that you cannot get via monitoring, which is identical to reaching out and engaging your people. Be present, if a cooling fan has is starting to make noise before failure or a member of your staff needs to blow off steam regarding a problem, get involved or the problem may grow much bigger without your knowledge.


Data Centers are the heart of a cyber infrastructure

And so are your employees. Help them help the people that need them instead of imposing meaningless meetings or go nowhere projects that drag them down. Computing time is expensive, but it’s cheap compared to non-supported people.

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