This was my first time at AFCOM’s Data Center World. Held in Las Vegas between 28th April and 2nd May, 2014 it was refreshingly different from other conferences as sponsor speakers could not advertise their wares during their speaking sessions. The sessions were aptly called “educational” as they provided an opportunity to hear some vendor-neutral versions of latest technologies. Of course, the hint was not lost when delivered by a vendor, but one was spared brazen advertisements. There were some outstanding educational sessions, including panel discussions on risk assessments, big data and of course also on DCIM. My session was on “Digital Services Efficiency: A New Management Scorecard.” The theme was how next-gen Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software would have role-based KPIs based on individual key result areas. The full version of the presentation is available here.

The exhibition floor displayed latest on power, cooling, security and fire suppression systems. That leads me to what I really want to discuss in today’s blog.

A session I found particularly topical at the Data Center World was by an Engineer from Morrison Hershfield who talked about causes of failures, risk assessments and metrics evaluating and mitigating risk factors. This goes beyond data centers. Only yesterday, there was a fire scare at Chicago airport. I am certain one of world’s busiest airports will have advanced smoke detection systems at its main and subsidiary facilities which should have given alerts before getting into a situation that forced a shutdown stranding passengers and causing huge losses for airlines. This was not an isolated incident. There was a devastating fire in a hospital in Kolkata couple of years back when many lives were lost. What cause these failures in early detection – mind you, not failures of equipment or the smoke/fire themselves – in spite of installing detection, prevention and suppression systems should be a subject for research and modifications in critical infrastructure management systems.