Most people get that data plays an essential role in the world of business. From stock traders to marketers to sports teams, heavy reliance on data, big and small, is widespread.
But the data itself is just the tip of the iceberg. The data center plays a vital, though often hidden, role in our daily lives. On Facebook, on the road, and at the grocery store. And far beyond: From keeping us healthy to helping us get from Point A to Point B to delivering social services to people in need, the data center matters.
In his August column for Phoenix Business Journal, IO President Tony Wanger addressed the topic of digitization. Digitization – the process of converting information into a digital format – is occurring not only in business (email much?) but in our lives as consumers as well (hello, Amazon).
One of Tony’s central points is that digitization generates tremendous environmental benefits. And that’s certainly true. But there are other implications of increasing digitization, including that we are increasingly reliant on data – and on the data centers in which that data is processed and stored.
Feeding the Hungry – The Data Center Matters
If the data center goes down, the organizations relying on it – and the people they serve – get left in the lurch. Take St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix. Every day, St. Mary’s helps to feed thousands of Arizonans, a service the organization wouldn’t be able to provide without IO’s high-availability data center.
Every day, St. Mary’s IT systems actively manage more than 10 terabytes of data. One of those systems, the ERP, manages the receipt and distribution of food into and out of St. Mary’s warehouse. Without access to that data, food deliveries and other much-needed services would be disrupted. “If our systems are down, the food doesn’t go in, the food doesn’t go out, and people will go hungry,” says Jay Hinnart, St. Mary’s Senior Director of Information Technology. “IO enables us to focus on our mission.”
Flying the Friendly Skies – The Data Center Matters
Anyone who’s been stuck at the airport because the airline couldn’t access critical flight information has experienced how essential data is to keeping people moving. Airline data outages regularly cause flight delays, including an incident in 2013 that caused American Airlines to ground all flights for hours. When those outages occur, the ripple effect can be huge, as passengers are trapped in airports, planes are stuck on the tarmac, and delays and missed connections multiply. Often, it can take days for things to get back to normal after a disruption – one reason why it’s so important to have reliable, secure data centers that minimize the risk of such service disruptions happening in the first place.
The importance of data – and the data center – doesn’t end once your flight finally takes off. In fact, it becomes even more critical. Consider this: A Boeing jet generates 10 terabytes of information per engine every 30 minutes of ﬂight. All of that data gets processed and stored in an on-the-ground data center.
As part of the aircraft manufacturer’s Airplane Health Management (AHM) system, “Data from onboard systems and engines is routinely captured in flight and transmitted in real time to the airline’s ground operations … Airlines using AHM can make maintenance decisions in a fraction of the time that would otherwise be needed, so they can be ready for any action required as soon as the airplane lands. That gets airplanes and passengers back in the air as soon as possible.”
Delivering Essential Health Care Services – The Data Center Matters
In the health care industry, the increasing shift to electronic medical records and other advanced technologies has made the data center more essential than ever. Health care providers now rely on digital data not only for billing and record keeping but for patient care and treatment as well.
For example, Iron Medical Systems provides private cloud services to radiation and oncology centers, and it relies on IO data centers to serve its customers. For them, the importance of data center availability can’t be underestimated. “If we’re down, maybe thousands of cancer patients throughout the day are not going to be treated,” explains Edward W. Purkiss, Iron Medical Systems’ President and CEO.
Given how reliant organizations – and the people they serve – are on data, and the data center, it is no surprise that data center downtime is incredibly costly. The human cost – the hungry people, the stranded travelers, the sick patients – translates into a high dollar cost for the organizations supposed to serve them. For example, one study found that the average cost of data center downtime in the healthcare industry is nearly $700,000, or $7,900 per minute.
As our world becomes ever more connected, and ever more digitized, our dependence on data is only going to increase. And that means the role of the data center will become ever more critical. Not just for CIOs and enterprise IT leaders. Not just for Silicon Valley software developers. For every one of us, the data center matters.