This article was previously published in Forbes Voice.

Many large technology products come with a handbook when purchased. For example, if you buy a new large-screen television, the box in which it comes typically includes a handbook on how to set it up and what features it includes. Similarly, when you buy a car from a dealership, it includes a handbook on troubleshooting issues with the vehicle.

Purchasing, deploying and maintaining IT infrastructure require an extensive capital investment and detailed operation. However, many companies don’t have any sort of handbook or guide on risk management for that IT infrastructure and may not be aware of how much of a role data center operations play in reducing and managing some of that risk.

Fortunately, the data center industry has the guidance of the Uptime Institute, an unbiased advisory organization focused on improving the performance, efficiency and reliability of business-critical infrastructure through innovation, collaboration and independent certifications. The Institute’s Management & Operations (M&O) Stamp of Approval offers existing data centers third-party validation and validates the rigor and effectiveness of a facility’s management and operations.

Uptime Institute recently published an executive handbook, “Risk Management for IT infrastructure,” which examines important issues in data center safety, operations and compliance. Written by Julian Kudritzki and Matt Stansberry, it provides guidance on avoiding data center capital project failure and applying efficient IT principles to address sustainability risks and IT resilience during a natural disaster.  The handbook also argues that effective governance requires industry certifications.

Part of the handbook analyzes the importance of Uptime’s M&O Stamp of Approval, assessing and evaluating both operations activities and management as equally critical to ensuring data center reliability and performance. According to a recent survey in the book of M&O Stamp of Approval award winners:

  • 80 percent said the M&O assessment had a positive material impact on their business;
  • 70 percent stated the organization will see an ROI for the M&O assessment;
  • 100 percent said M&O improved their internal processes.

Kudritzki and Stansberry also point out in the handbook that, when the M&O Stamp of Approval is administered across an entire portfolio, it ensures consistency. CenturyLink is a perfect example of utilizing Uptime’s data center operations guidance. As the authors point out, “CenturyLink’s commitment to achieve M&O Stamp of Approval across the board shows it is willing to hold itself to a uniform set of high standards and operate with transparency.”

Addressing potential risks within a data center is essential to ensuring customers enjoy maximized uptime, optimized IT infrastructure and secure data. Cyber and other malicious attacks are bound to continue, and hackers will come up with new ways to try to access valuable enterprise and customer data. In addition, data centers benefit from proactive and consistent planning, testing and preparation. Developing a strategy to address risk management within a data center may be time-consuming but is necessary to avoid costly outages and data breaches.

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