The Raritan Blog

Surviving COVID-19: Data Center Operators Turn to Remote Management During Pandemic

Jessica Ciesla
February 18, 2021

As we reach the one-year mark of the pandemic, enterprises and data center providers have continued to keep their data centers up and running thanks to remote management tools and a reduced IT staff that go on-site to maintain the physical infrastructure.

Colocation providers, for example, have tools that allow its staff and customers to remotely monitor and manage their infrastructure, which reduces foot traffic in data centers during COVID-19, according to a December article in Data Center Knowledge. Enterprises are also using the technology to remotely manage their infrastructure.

“We have management systems that allow us to automate a lot of processes. You can check [server] temperatures remotely,” DataGryd CEO Tom Brown told Data Center Dynamics last September. “You can check if there are any big spikes. Should there be any type of alarm, you can work on your laptop or your phone,” 

Industry analysts say data center operators were prepared for the pandemic because of previous business continuity planning and because many had previously installed remote management and monitoring tools, according to Data Center Knowledge. Use of remote management tools and services has skyrocketed because of the coronavirus, the publication said. 

However, not everything can be done remotely. To keep data centers operating, enterprises and data center providers still need on-site staff to maintain the equipment, even if it’s a bare-bones team. “Sure, you may need fewer people overall, but you can’t have no one,” Vantage Data Centers Chief Operating Officer Chris Yetman said in an April ZDNET article

Vantage, which provides data center facilities to hyperscalers, cloud providers, and enterprises in North America and Europe, has focused on employee safety during the pandemic. Last spring, as the coronavirus began to spread globally, Yetman sent all non-essential workers home to work. Then, for the technical staff that needed to work on site, he ordered personal protective equipment and set up hand sanitizing stations throughout the company’s facilities, the ZDNET article said.

To reduce employee risk and ensure social distancing, Vantage also performed deep cleans at its data centers and re-arranged shifts to reduce the chances of employees working side by side, the story said. 

Data center providers have also seen an increased demand for remote-hand and smart-hand services, in which their data center staff assist customers with simple requests, such as server reboots or more complex on-site tasks, such as setting up new equipment, according to Data Center Knowledge. 

For example, UK-based colocation provider 4D Data Centres only allows customers to visit its facilities by appointment. But to avoid unnecessary visits, the 4D’s own on-site technicians will perform an unlimited number of hands-on requests for clients, such as server racking and replacement of components, the ZDNET story said. 

Experts expect data center operators will continue to take advantage of remote management tools when the pandemic is over, according to the December Data Center Knowledge article. Many enterprises had the remote tools available pre-pandemic but didn’t use them until they had to during the past year, analysts told the publication. 

Remote management tools help reduce costs, improve uptime and allow data centers to survive future disasters. “The pandemic forced people to try it, which forced people to become comfortable with it, and we feel it’s become table stacks for data centers,” Brent Bentsen, CTO of products at QTS Realty Trust, told the publication. “This is the beginning of the new norm.” 

Raritan offers data center operators a variety of equipment and tools that allow for remote management. For example, Raritan’s Dominion Serial Console Servers allow IT and network administrators to remotely access, monitor, and manage data center equipment with serial ports, such as routers, switches, servers, storage hardware, firewalls, power distribution units (PDUs), and uninterruptible power supplies. From a remote location, they can use the technology to troubleshoot, configure or reboot the devices. 

Raritan also offers the CommandCenter Secure Gateway, an easy-to-deploy, plug-and-play appliance that provides IT administrators with one single-pane-of-glass to remotely manage all of Raritan’s Dominion KVM-over-IP switches, Serial Console Servers, PX Intelligent PDUs as well as physical and virtual servers. Contact us for more information on how Raritan's remote management solutions.