By Nick Booth (@ohthisbloodypc), Contributor
As the price of computing power plummets and the market for IT services mobilises, we’ve become globe trotters. Thanks to services that mash the world’s data centres into one giant computer with near perfect liquidity, we’re all now virtual business travellers. One minute we’re being hosted in Berlin, the next we’re guests in a Bangalore suite of services.
It’s impossible to tell which country your data is in… and most of us don’t care.
When you travel around as much as we do, these ‘data hotels’ all start to look the same.
Now that The Internet of Things has turned the hosting business into a global hotel business however, some interesting new professions have emerged. These niche jobs are highly specialized, rarely understood and definitely worth getting into.
For example, you can’t have a data hotel industry without an efficient service for booking accommodation. But it’s hard to juggle millions of buyers with the available accommodation. No two customers are alike for one thing. Some will want a space with king-sized CPU but won’t be too fussy about storage space, while others will want tons of mirroring and memory.
These customers will be very insistent too! When you’re staying in a server overnight for an important business transaction, you really don’t want your demand footprint sticking out the IT bed.
This is where some companies have created a niche for themselves. They take the unique needs of business travellers and match them up to the available room. If, for example, an e-commerce site wants room on a server with massive capacity for expansion of processing power, their automated check in system somehow matches them up with the right accommodation. Every user’s profile has a very different shape (in terms of CPU, storage, memory and other variables) so it’s a bit like playing Tetris with the incoming tenants.
Online transactions are like throwing a party – you never know who is going to turn up but when they do decide to come, you can easily get over run.
Another important skill in the hosting game is cleaning
Those people who actually visit the places that host their business will be impressed by cleanliness and order. The Hotel Du Data must be spotless at all times in case an inspector turns up. They can spot a mote on a speck of dust from 100 yards!
This has created another specialized skill, and you will often find ex-military staff cleaning, concierging and patrolling the premises of many hosting facilities.
Like an army camp, the commandant of a data centre will insist that the floor is clean enough to eat off it. (But woe betide anyone who does bring food in). Floors are polished regularly with specialized attachments that pick up any specs of dust kicked up by the buffing process. Why? The more dust particles there are in the air, the more the processors are likely to overheat, the harder the cooling systems will have to work, the more likely is a system crash, the harder the fans and even the filters will find it to function.
Specialist (highly paid) cleaners are essential as even the wrong type of cleaning fluid can fatally affect a guest in a data hotel. A corrosive cleaning agent can cause zinc to flake, for example. If just one metallic wafer get picked up by the currents of the air conditioning, and wafted onto a processor board, they can cause a fatal short circuiting. Your online business could be killed by a flake!
Brendan Musgrove, MD of specialist data center cleaner Cordant Specialist Services, hires ex-service staff as a rule, because they come from an environment where they have don’t think it’s mad to clean an entire hall with a toothbrush.
It’s all about attention to detail, says data centre décor expert Mick Higgins, MD of H&S Decorating Specialists. You cannot afford the least bit of static, whether it’s in the air or between the human occupants.
“You need people who are reliable, know the environment and know how to behave,” says Higgins.
Yes, if you’re going to be a world traveller you need to have a good guest too.