Unlike the experience of maintaining workspaces with people, a data centre is like managing a no-man’s land. These massive, hermetically sealed facilities house hundreds of servers, storage systems, routers and other IT hardware.
A ‘lights-out’ data centre, also known as a darkened or a dark data centre, is one which has all but eliminated the need for direct access by personnel, except under extraordinary circumstances. Because of the lack of need for staff to enter the data centre, it can be operated without lighting. All the devices are accessed and managed by remote systems, with automation programs used to perform unattended operations.
Since its inception, facility management has been oriented around facility users and occupants. So why is there so much buzz about FM that is meant to serve machines?
Because data centres are the nerve centres of India’s digital economy. It’s where organisations house their critical applications and data, supported by power subsystems, UPS, ventilation, cooling systems, fire suppression, backup generators and connections to external networks. If the support systems fail, the facility goes down…something that the country cannot afford, both figuratively and literally.
It should come as no surprise then that the Indian data centre industry is expected to add 681 MW capacity by the end of 2024, leading to a doubling of capacity to 1,318 MW, which will need 7.8 million sq ft of real estate space. Mumbai is expected to account for 57% of the new supply, followed by Chennai at 25%.
According to Nasscom, data centres are expected to receive an investment of $200 billion per annum by 2025. And despite tweaks to data protection laws, this is one industry that cannot be outsourced to other countries. The RBI has mandated that for data security, all data generated by Indian payment systems is required to be stored in India. Similarly, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has also announced its intention to come up with guidelines that will mandate foreign entities to store data pertaining to India locally.
With cheap mobile internet and affordable broadband connections, Indians generate an unimaginable quantum of data every second. This data needs a home in servers. Those servers need a home in data centres, and it is India’s FM sector that will have the responsibility to clean, maintain and secure the facilities of this sunrise industry.
How is this done? Read on.