18 June 2020

Shining a light on business resiliency

Written by Nathan McBride - Head of Facility Management

2020 has been a wild ride so far for many of us. But like most things, if we look at it through a different lens, it can reveal a silver lining and we can learn from it. Businesses around the globe have been forced to rethink their digitalisation strategies, with the reliance on critical digital infrastructure taking a quantum leap forward in the space of three months. We don’t know when or what the next significant external disruption will be, but inevitably, it could be just around the corner and ‘being prepared’ is the motto on everyone’s mind.

The digital age heralds significant technology and business opportunities, but that comes hand in hand with unprecedented competition, rising customer expectations and their need for something businesses wouldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago – immediacy and resilience.

Today's data centre services customers need certainty around the power, security and connectivity that keeps their critical infrastructure available 100% of the time. This level of trust in operational resilience provides organisations with peace of mind and a stable environment to advance the digital transformation agendas that will drive their innovation as well as improve productivity, reduce costs and provide outstanding experiences for their customers.

The things that truly make a difference, take greater effort. But in the end, it generally means the payoff was well worth the time spent. Part of NEXTDC’s core beliefs is that going the extra mile and making the effort for our customers is worth it. When it comes to the critical infrastructure that drives business, this effort boils down to resilience. The most commonly recognised stamp of approval for data centre resiliency comes from independent data centre standards body, Uptime Institute (UI), whose certification program embodies the need for resiliency.

The pinnacle of Uptime certifications is Tier IV, which signifies critical infrastructure being certified as being completely fault tolerant. To achieve Tier IV certification, the experts at Uptime Institute spend weeks putting data centre facilities under the microscope, carrying out hundreds of tests, trying everything they can to break a critical path. It’s only once we have completed this stringent process with a 100% pass rate that the coveted Tier IV status is achieved.

Tier IV essentially means that customers are guaranteed that no failure on any piece of infrastructure within the data centre will impact on the availability of their systems. If a diesel generator, fire suppression or cooling system has an issue it can be handled and supported all whilst maintaining 100% operational uptime. This is the effort we believe is paramount for your organisation, importantly, it’s the reason why we’ve built Australia’s only national network of Tier IV certified facilities.

Once UI certification is achieved, the job is far from over. In fact, the journey is just beginning. The hard work to ensure our services are uninterrupted continue in alignment with the stringent UI standards in order to deliver on our 100% uptime guarantee continues every single day. How do we do that? In order to best support our customers, our industry leading facilities teams, award winners in their own right, regularly put our critical infrastructure through its paces to ensure it’s ready to stand up when we need it the most.

A great example of this is our annual Dark Site Test. Dark site testing involves turning off the grid connected electrical supply that powers each facility and vigilantly monitoring the electrical infrastructure to ensure that there is no impact on our customers at any time.

These intensive tests run for more than six hours to ensure we accurately simulate how our infrastructure will perform during the most adverse conditions, all while continuing to deliver 100% uptime. Our facility teams are the best in the business, and they take these processes seriously. Running rigorous tests like these under National Change Management planning is what differentiates NEXTDC’s data centres, which continues to instil confidence within our customers that the critical digital infrastructure that supports that drives their business forward will withstand any major incident.

Putting our own infrastructure under the microscope is an imperative part our operational standards, so we can confidently stand behind our brand promise and deliver the superior levels of resiliency our customers and partners demand.

These full system shutdowns are elaborate and are carried out with discipline and precision, however they’re performed in conjunction with ensuring the facility is kept running optimally and customer requests continue to be managed seamlessly. Despite our facilities running in full island mode with all major utility supplies completely isolated, you would never know the difference.

At the end of the day, if your data centre is not independently tested, certified and continuously monitored, then it’s highly unlikely it will be able to support your continuous business operations during a disaster, or anything else that comes our way in 2020 and beyond.

This is one promise we take great pride in. We are privileged to stand beside our customers and support their business 100% of the time. If you’re looking to improve business resilience to ensure your business is prepared for whatever lies ahead, I recommend having a chat with one of our specialists.