Why DCiRN is important to me

by Mark Acton

Chair of the EU Code of Conduct on Data Centre Energy Efficiency Best Practice

Committee & Critical Support Director at Future-tech.

Key people from the DCiRN Executive and DCiRN Technical Authority are being asked 1 simple question - Mark Acton, "Why is DCiRN Important to you?"

"The emergence of data centres as an industry sector is still relatively new, probably around 25 years or so. Nevertheless the importance of data centres to our daily lives cannot be underestimated, despite that fact that data centres and the critical infrastructure that they provide are hidden to the vast majority of users of these services. With the increasing service availability expectations for the services that power both our business and social interactions the dependency on critical infrastructure particularly data centres, to support ‘Always On’ 24x365 operations is becoming ever more important.  

We therefore need to make sure that we are managing this infrastructure in a risk free and reliable manner. Incidents do happen but as a sector we must all learn from these incidents, taking potentially extremely costly and disruptive events as an opportunity to learn and improve our management regimes and practices. This can only be achieved if, as an industry, we openly share and publicise the reasons for problems occurring and the lessons learned in dealing with issues and all importantly preventing them from happening again.

It is not acceptable for a sector that supports business critical functions and the mechanisms by which we interact socially to have to repeatedly learn the same hard lessons, putting customers and the population at large at risk of severe disruption to their daily lives. The Data Center Incident Reporting Network (DCiRN), seeks to address this by creating an anonymized mechanism to share what might be delicate information to a wider community without jeopardising confidentiality but yet allowing extremely valuable and important lessons and observations to be shared by all. The intended result being that lessons learned are disseminated across our industry as a benefit to the entire sector. This in turn will allow our community to offer all our customers greater levels of service reliability and availability with far less risk of disruption as we continue to grow together.

The Uptime Institute has successfully used this approach with their Abnormal Incident Reporting System (AIRS), which has substantially improved The Uptime Institute’s ability to the determines those behaviours and factors which should be applied to improve data centre service availability, reduce the risk and occurrence of incidents which might impact data centre reliability and result in service downtime.

DCiRN seeks to widen this approach for the benefit of the entire sector and should be considered analogous to the anonymised reporting system used by the Airline Industry (CHIRP). This has become an essential tool in the improvement of air travel safety and reliability and should serve as an exemplary model for our own sector. As we mature as an industry and increasingly become custodians of national critical systems with potential life safety impacts, it is essential that we follow a similar path to the Airline Industry. DCiRN is the vital answer to this growing need and something that should be embraced by all involved in the data centre sector"


What's the DCIRN mission?

The role of the DCIRN is to manage an independent, voluntary confidential reporting programme for data center operators and personnel working in the data center industry in order to to improve the safety and reliability of data centers and the services they provide to the public and the safety of individuals employed within or associated with data center operations.
We have developed an independent, confidential and anonymous reporting programme of data center failures and significant incidents with a mission to improve the reliability of data centers by collating and analysing information that can be shared within the industry.

We will achieve our mission by:

1) Managing an independent confidential reporting programme for the reception and handling of human factors, equipment reliability and safety-related issues associated with the data center community; 

2) Analysing data and identifying factors as a contribution to improving safety and reliability in data center operations;

3) Informing the data center community of safety and reliability related reports and trends that we consider will be of public benefit.

How does DCIRN ensure incident submissions are confidential?

DCIRN has established a process to ensure that all incident submissions are made anonymous before publication. Incident submissions are encrypted and password protected. Incident submissions remain within the Secretariat and are made anonymous before being sent to the Technical Advisory Committee for review, comment and subsequent publication on the website or bulletin.

DCiRN will be at DCD Dallas 22nd October 2019