PlanNet’s Michael Fluegeman was quoted in SearchDataCenter’s, Integrated systems test prevents data center downtime.

The article goes into detail the issues that colocation providers have with preventing downtime. “An explosion knocks out power near an Equinix and Internap data center in Los Angeles. Lightning strikes near a Google data center in Germany. A chilled water pipe fails in a CenturyLink data center in New Jersey, affecting New York Stock Exchange data displays.”

“All these incidents have occurred in recent weeks, showing the types of surprises that cause data center downtime and infrastructure failures.”

This is where the integrated systems test (IST) becomes essential. Where among other functions it validates that emergency power, mechanical and monitoring systems operate as designed and built. Questions arise on whether this type of test can be performed on an active data center environment.

Michael Fluegeman, a professional engineer and principal at PlanNet, said he encounters similar questions about whether to perform a complete integrated systems test in a live facility.

“The naysayers say it is a lot of risk,” Fluegeman said.

But if the IST is planned, rehearsed and closely watched, the risk is low, he said. And the risk is far less than the risk of a data center failure coming at a business-critical time.

“Usually it is a 3 a.m. on a Sunday or some crazy time like that,” Fluegeman said.

Fluegeman, pointed to the purchase of a data center as a good time to conduct an IST.

For example, Fluegeman had a client that had purchased a five-year-old data center that had been largely unused. It didn’t have any known failures, “but they really didn’t know what they had.”

Often, individual tests of components and subsystems are performed first. That helps detect any problems where equipment from different vendors isn’t interacting well.

“A number of things may not be right and when it is all happening at once, it may be hard to figure out,” he said.

It all leads up to a larger “pull the plug test.”

“That tends to be the final one where everyone wants to watch,” Fluegeman said.

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