What happens in the data center doesn't stay in the data center

What happens in the data center doesn't stay in the data center

Banking customers are directly impacted by data center downtime.

It's bad enough that data center managers are responsible for maintaining some of the most dynamic facility environments in existence. But they also have to deal with the fact that if something goes wrong, an outage can directly impact the bottom line. For financial institutions, this can knock out online banking services, payment portals and other customer-facing services. The result can be lost opportunity, or worse, lost customers. 

This is quite a bit of weight for data center operators to have to shoulder. And while it comes with the job, there are tools that can make the task far more manageable – namely, data center monitoring. 

Why is uptime so important in the financial sector?

In 2011, Bank of America experienced "technical issues" that resulted in slowdowns and even shutdowns of its website that lasted for as long as six days and affected an estimated 29 million customers. The company said the outages were in response to higher than expected traffic that clogged up its servers. This is not entirely unlike a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, except for the fact that there were no hackers flooding the network. The bank had simply been caught off guard by the spike in legitimate user activity. 

It's difficult to calculate a precise dollar amount for the cost of this downtime; however, there is little doubt that customers were extremely inconvenienced by the incident. As TechTarget contributor Stephen J. Bigelow pointed out in a general assessment of the risks of downtime, inconvenienced clients won't hesitate to jump ship.

"Where would you rather put your money? In the bank with no downtime or the one with repeated downtime?" Bigelow wrote. "Most financial companies have processes in place to preserve or recover data; it's the loss of transactional continuity that can cause the biggest problems."

Many customers rely heavily on online banking everyday. Many customers rely heavily on online banking.

Data center monitoring: How can it help?

Staying on top of the myriad factors that could lead to an outage requires no less than constant vigilance. Management needs to be alerted of even the tiniest indicator that something could be wrong, whether it's a slightly higher than usual server capacity – which may or may not augur an impending spike in traffic – an increase in temperature or minor power problems. The only way this can be achieved is with real-time monitoring in the data center.

"Data center operators must be constantly aware."

Up-to-the-second information for thousands of data points make it possible for data center managers to have a level of insight into critical data center equipment that would otherwise be impossible. Geist Climate Monitors, for example, rely on sensors installed throughout a facility that perpetually record temperature, humidity and dew point. All of these can in some way impact the functionality of data center equipment. If a cooling component has a busted fan, a server or a UPS system could potentially overheat. If there is too much moisture in the air, hardware can become corroded. If there's not enough moisture, static electricity may damage sensitive electronics. Data center operators must be constantly aware of all of these factors.

Likewise, local and remote power monitoring ensure that electricity consumption is optimized, as a way to guarantee that equipment is not being overworked, to extend the expensive electronics and to cut back on power inefficiencies.   

Data centers are precarious environments that need constant monitoring. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong in a bank's data center, their customers will know about it and they won't be happy. What happens in the data center doesn't always stay in the data center.