Technology is great, but it’s all about the people

by Jim Kennedy
10 September 2012

Often, when we take potential customers through our data centers and show them our patented technology, they remark at what incredible technology we have designed and implemented. My first response is always this: it is a result of the people we hire to design, build, and operate our data centers. My two priorities in anything we do are availability of the customer application and outstanding customer service. These are enabled by technology, but driven by people. As demonstrated by numerous studies in the data center industry and from my previous life in the nuclear industry, people remain and are still the leading cause of downtime in data centers (more on that in follow-on posts).

First, hire the right people and then give them the tools to succeed. One of the best things RagingWire has done is give our employees and our clients a clear definition of our data center design: "Fix one, break one, concurrent with a utility outage." In other words: we are designed for concurrent maintainability and fault tolerance during a utility outage, including power or water -- this philosophy resonates through RagingWire's design, construction, and operations groups, and even in our concurrent engineering sessions with our clients. The philosophy is driven by the people we have at RagingWire.

Many people in the industry have tried to treat the data center as commoditized real estate. It is unequivocally not real estate; it is a product which at the end of the day delivers availability of a service and an application to our customers. As people try to commoditize and treat data centers as real estate, they lose focus on availability and product delivery and therefore they outsource design, construction, and operations - driving down service and quality. Data centers, the product that we provide, and the availability of the service is not a commodity that can easily be white washed between providers. There is an amazing amount of technology and innovation being put into our data centers and the product is backed up by incredible people dedicated to the availability and uptime of that product.

RagingWire has made a conscious decision to hire and in-source the life cycle of the data center. We design what we build, we build what we design and we operate what we design and build. And we provide these resources to our customers to ensure that when they build out, their IT environment is as hardened and redundant as possible and that their hardware, network and application level architecture is designed in conjunction with our data center design. The people, enabled by the technology, are the cornerstone of how we accomplish this with our clients and provide 100% availability of their applications and services.

Whenever we search for potential technology vendors, RagingWire always interviews the provider’s team and makes an evaluation of the people behind the product. You can take the greatest technology in the world, place it in the wrong hands and end up with a product that no one wants. Similarly, the right people can make all of the difference, especially when given incredible technology and tools.

The next time you go to your data center, evaluate the technology, how they do business, and their availability record. Just as important, evaluate who is behind the product and the people that are ultimately going to be ensuring your critical application availability.

Jim Kennedy

Director of Critical Facilities Engineering