Among the most compelling reasons to use cloud and/or colocation services is that the really good data centers that power them employ leading-edge technologies that their customers might not otherwise be able to afford or keep up-to-date themselves. This includes advanced technologies for security, monitoring, preventive maintenance and more.
As we all know, however, technologies are only as good as the people that employ them. Even increased reliance on automation in data center facilities is subject to the experience and expertise of those behind it.
Peak 10 has long understood the importance of hiring and retaining stellar people to operate its data centers and to ensure that the technologies employed, the equipment installed and the services delivered meet the highest performance standards. Training plays an important role in this at Peak 10 to the extent that the company developed its own Data Center Academy.
Now in its third iteration since its formal introduction in 2009 (because continuous improvement is a hallmark of the Peak 10 way of doing business), the Peak 10 Data Center Academy has become among the most comprehensive in-house training programs in the industry.
Data Center Academy Structure
Many data center operators simply have their new employees go through a day-long orientation and periodically complete a course here and there if required for audit purposes. At Peak 10, all employees who work in the on-site Technical Assistance Centers (TAC) at each data center are required to successfully complete a three-level series of video modules and online training in addition to the traditional orientation and audit-related courses.
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Within their first 30 days, new hires complete a set of introductory courses that cover critical data center infrastructure. Next up is a 200 series of courses, which are more conceptual in nature but specific to data center equipment and technologies. An example would be an overview of how a computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit works. Finally, there is a 300 series that provides training specific to each facility. (While Peak 10 standardizes its data center builds, the individual facilities still may have equipment or processes unique to their locations.)
The Data Center Academy training courses are integrated into Peak 10’s overall Learning Management System (LMS), which allows for tracking and monitoring course completion and recording grades. All employees throughout Peak 10 ─ not just those in data center technical support roles ─ are required to periodically complete a number of courses through the LMS.
Best Practices. Proven Processes.
Peak 10 Data Center Academy courses span a diverse range of topics, with an emphasis on industry best practices and the proven, structured processes and procedures that ensure customers’ technology assets are available and secure around the clock. Some are specific to compliance and regulatory requirements such as HIPAA and PCI DSS. Others are focused on security protocols, disaster recovery and emergency response procedures and include simulations. Still others are used to provide specific procedural training. Video content is included that demonstrates what the equipment and processes actually look like when the specific tasks are being performed.
Efforts are underway to deliver training content via mobile platforms. Employees can now simply scan a QR code on a piece of equipment using his/her smart phone or tablet in order to view a video that details the ins, outs and operations of that specific piece of equipment. That information also helps employees to work more efficiently by putting critical information at their fingertips when conducting repairs, maintenance, tests or other procedures on the equipment.
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The Data Center Academy training modules are continuously updated to keep pace with changing technologies and equipment, as well as to incorporate feedback from the employees themselves. That feedback is responsible for their current format which takes into consideration the need to balance training time with employees’ day-to-day responsibilities. The latest modules are generally two to five minutes in length, are easy to complete without long uninterrupted time windows and include quick, embedded quizzes.
As previously mentioned, continuous improvement is integral to how things are done at Peak 10. Expect that to lead to more great things from the Peak 10 Data Center Academy.