Main causes of impairment in the IT infrastructure

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Practical tips to understand the causes of the depreciation of the IT infrastructures, to optimize the existing value preservation principles and thus to increase your own environmental awareness.


Fine dust as a cause of IT failures


Operation, maintenance and further development of IT infrastructures are the most important basics to ensure trouble-free processes and smooth operations. The essential areas are standardized and normed. However, the issue of fine dust in data centers is often neglected and, statistically speaking, leads to around 3 failures per year and data center. According to current studies, the associated costs amount to around €500,000 per year. Hardware failures due to dust contamination is a common scenario in the operation of modern data centers. On average, the IT departments or service providers need about 3.8 hours to get the systems up and running again. The more particulate matter gets into the hardware, the more energy is required to cool the active components. The service life of the hardware is actively affected by neglecting the fine dust inspections. The number of server failures increases exponentially due to increased operating temperatures caused by dust contamination.



Figure 1: IT failures due to dust depending on the hardware temperature.


No relevant standard as a basis for inspection and maintenance


The current standards prescribe fixed rotational measures in the form of an inspection and maintenance plan for a data center operator. The basis of the standard is essentially complete, but not in the area of ​​dust management.


As far as the recommendations of the standard documents are implemented, the causes and sources of impairment of the IT infrastructure can be avoided in many aspects, but a significant part receives little attention.


The topic of dealing with dust contamination in IT infrastructures such as data centers and server rooms is currently not fundamentally regulated in any of the current standard documents.


Only the Federal Office for IT Security writes in a recommendation to those responsible for IT to have the affected infrastructure cleaned regularly. However, questions remain unanswered as to how often, on what occasions and to what extent the cleaning should take place.


COVID19 leads to a temporary stop in the provision of services by external companies


Many companies currently have an access block for external companies due to the corona pandemic. However, the particulate matter pollution of IT infrastructures such as data centers is growing constantly and independently of the pandemic situation and must be kept under control despite active access blocks and temporary stops.


2. Principles of maintaining the value of the infrastructure in operation


Digitized business processes ensure efficiency in the company and competitiveness on the global market. However, the more the added value is based on the IT infrastructure, the more important it is that it always works smoothly. No element should be unreliable or insecure, whether networks and servers, individual workstations, peripherals and mobile devices, operating systems, databases and applications. Operation, maintenance and further development therefore become a crucial task.


Inspection and Maintenance


Dealing with fine dust as an active part of the inspection and maintenance in IT infrastructure basically belongs to the area of ​​maintenance and repair according to DIN 31051 and thus to infrastructural facility management.


According to DIN 31051:2003-06, maintenance is defined as: “Combination of all technical and administrative measures as well as management measures during the life cycle of an item to maintain the functional condition or return it to it, so that it can fulfill the required function.”


Understanding fine dust – the particles and their concentration


In 1959, the Johannesburg Convention defined fine dust as a separating particle with an aerodynamic diameter of 5 µm. The current definition goes back to the National Air Quality Standard for Particulate Matter (abbreviated to PM Standard) introduced in 1987 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).