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Data center operations best practices checklist

These tips and advice from independent experts will guide you to better data center operations and the right management tools.

Stability, agility and efficiency reign as the top data center IT infrastructure goals. Stable data center operations mean less time "putting out fires" and more time implementing new platforms or optimizing existing ones.

Data center operations best practices range from simple incident monitoring to complex tasks such as mapping network connections and removing underutilized servers.

These 10 expert tips cover best practices to manage IT assets, load server resources onto rack space, configure infrastructure, handle IT support and execute other daily data center operations.

1. Regulate rack-level capacity

Servers vary greatly in power draw and utilization, factors that affect how much power each rack consumes. Here's how to estimate the power draw in a rack so you can insert new equipment, plan space for additional servers and arrays or rebalance power loads.

2. Work your IT infrastructure tools

IT infrastructure monitoring tools provide insights into capacity use, bottlenecks, access attempts and much more. To use them effectively, start with a reasonable and achievable project scope, and follow these integration tips.

3. Focus on configuration management

Implementing configuration management tools requires buy-in from IT infrastructure and development teams, but the payoff in stability and fast updates is worth it. Facebook shares the ops best practices learned in its three year conversion to Chef configuration management.

4. Obey security best practices

The best data center operations best practices implementation means nothing if unauthorized personnel or unknown people can access corporate information via the data center. Keep these crucial systems safe from would-be attackers or thieves.

5. Benchmark servers accurately

For the most efficiency, data center IT and ops staff should benchmark server performance. Vendors can tell you core counts, but the real return on investment depends on your workloads.

6. Lock down IT assets

Do you know what OS and application licenses will expire this year? How many items are on the network? The available server capacity in each cluster for high availability? Data center operations run more smoothly when all IT assets are managed properly.

7. Keep up server racking best practices

Common problems arise among data center racks, whether it's from dense equipment configurations or a lack of space for cabling. Well-organized and spaced data center racks enable better IT ops, so take the time to correct and prevent common mistakes.

8. Embrace and standardize change

Change is a constant, so make change management consistent. Establishing a change management process is a crucial data center operations best practice, supported by various tools. Change management means back-end stability, which pays off in the form of IT flexibility and agility on the front end.

9. Manage the entire infrastructure

Myriad tools manage servers, network connections and storage arrays. Other tools track and adjust data center cooling, power distribution and energy efficiency. With data center infrastructure management, one tool could rule everything from raised floor to RAM, but should you expect that to work practically?

10. Add in professional help

No IT operations team can handle every bug, hardware problem or other issue that comes up in the data center. Learn the best kind of professional and vendor support for your organization so you're not alone when problems require outside help.

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This was last published in December 2015

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