Data Center industry leaders Chris Dolan and James McGrath founded 365 Data Centers in 2002. They began with a single data center based in San Francisco, but today 365 Data Centers owns and operates 17 data centers nationwide, having earned an industry reputation for high touch customer service, satisfaction and retention.
The facilities at 365 Data Centers
I spoke with Brian Hall, Sam Zurzolo and Justin Scott in November 2013. Brian and Sam are facilities managers for the West and East coasts of USA, respectively, and Justin is the senior manager of facilities operations. In early 2013, Justin tasked Sam and Brian with looking for a Data Center CMMS solution that delivered value at an affordable price. He set an aggressive 6-month timeline to get their solution up and running at all 17 data centers. This case study conversation occurred just after their 6-month rollout period had successfully come to an end.
The facilities teams at each site manage the electrical and HVAC infrastructure that support the data center. This includes generators, ATS, UPS, HVAC units, DC plants, rectifiers, fire systems, main switchgear and electrical distribution plants. It’s a large number of systems that ensure complete redundancy in its power and cooling infrastructure.
Like many organizations, the facilities team used an Excel spreadsheet located on a shared drive to track their maintenance activities. They also had a number of Method Of Procedure (MOPs) that detailed which tasks were to be completed at each PM. The completed MOPs were then stored on the shared drive. Whenever an asset’s maintenance history was needed, it meant accessing each file individually to see what had been done. Finding information from past work orders was slow with these tools and it was difficult to ensure PM compliance. It was frustrations like these that triggered the search for a Data Center CMMS option.
Quick and easy
“We discovered Fiix’s Data Center CMMS on Google,” explains Justin, “it ticked all our boxes and one of the things I noticed straight away was its simple navigation. I have used a number of systems in the past that had steep learning curves with their idiosyncrasies and short cuts. Fiix is easy to navigate, which is good for us and good for our end users.”
Six busy months later
Six months later, Fiix is now live at 17 data centers and is primarily used to track preventive maintenance and projects. According to Sam and Brian, there are several noticeable improvements over their previous system already:
- Better notification system – Technicians are notified automatically when the work is due.
- Tighter PM compliance – “We now monitor PM compliance so we are getting PM’s done closer to the due date”, explains Brian.
- Reporting – “It is easy to go into the reports section and pull the data from the system quick and easily”, says Sam.
- Work order history. You can search previous work orders and find out what was done on equipment effortlessly.
“Fiix has been well received at the organization,” explains Justin. “Change can be difficult, but the team seems to have grasped it immediately. Technicians and engineers access the CMMS day to day on desk PCs but the next step is to start using the mobile app. The facilities still handle spare parts the old fashioned way but we see a need for better purchasing and inventory control in the future.” This can be achieved with the Fiix purchasing module.
Time well spent
“We’re more organized since we started using Fiix”, explains Justin, and we’re saving time in a number of different areas. Simply managing maintenance on a day-to-day basis in Fiix is more efficient. Searching old work orders is quick and easy within the CMMS. Previously, reporting alone was a deep dive every month that could take 6-8 hours whereas now it can be executed in minutes. Overall, we’re saving up to 40 man-hours per site per month on just managing our basic maintenance processes.”
A growing partnership
“I’m not a big fan of single vendor solutions because they discourage innovation or thinking out of the box”, explains Justin. “Fiix is not about selling software and walking away. As a subscription service, they are incentivized to continue to improve the product and innovate. They help us do business better and become more successful and we give feedback to Fiix so they continue to develop a product that is better for everyone. It feels like more like a partnership that will continue develop and grow over time.”
Advice for other data centers
Brian Hall noted that data centers are now the fastest growing consumer of electricity in the United States and will have a bigger impact on energy infrastructure in the coming years. He noted that the US Department of Energy has made critical industry partnerships and developed tools to promote a greener industry. Performing the appropriate maintenance so that equipment runs efficiently can help control electricity usage. Using a properly configured Data Center CMMS now will help meet any new regulations and measurements made by future governments.
“Many data centers are run with an IT centered view”, explained Sam. “In IT, it is run it until it breaks and then you fix it.” With the explosion in the data center industry, “a lot more thought is going into the infrastructure, not just the server” and maintenance is trending toward a “predictive whole facility view”. Part of the change process for 365 Data Centers is investing in a CMMS. Already, as demonstrated above, they are starting to see the benefits of that decision. It is clear that the team at 365 Data Centers is making huge steps in improving their maintenance practices at their 17 facilities, and Fiix CMMS wants to be a big part of their continual improvement.