EPI: Orchestrating Efficient Data Centers
In today’s digital age, data centers are an essential part of the IT services stack. Enterprises across industries are implementing fully integrated, intelligently designed data centers to be at the center of their business operations. Simultaneously, several systems work in tandem to manage the data coming in and flowing out of centers, and all are managed by the people in charge of the center’s infrastructure. In such a scenario, each aspect of the data centers requires the right tools to ensure efficiency and security throughout its lifetime. EPI, a global leader in data center design, validation, auditing, and training, is at the helm of the data center industry and the shifting landscape of mission critical data.
As a highly-reputed data center infrastructure services company, EPI has a long-standing reputation in the industry as a leading provider of services to help organizations design, maintain, and operate data centers in the most efficient way. Chairman and CEO of the EPI group of companies, Edward van Leent, says, “Most companies in the industry focus their efforts on addressing the design and building phases of data centers. While there is an obvious need in that arena, very little information or direction is available on how to govern, operate and maintain data centers once the construction is complete.” Throughout the lifecycle of a data center, operations are a 24/7 task, extending a decade or more for more enterprises, and that leaves ample opportunity for human errors to cause downtime and inefficiencies in business operations. EPI has developed data center framework and a globally accepted Data Center Operations Standard, called DCOS®, to combat these industry-wide challenges head on, going beyond just the physical infrastructure and the one-time design and build event.
Enhancing Businesses through Standardization
Each of the EPI data center infrastructure service is aimed at helping organizations to increase the availability of its data, improve efficiencies in managing data, and minimize the potential interruptions to business operations in the process. To achieve this, EPI has developed an operational excellence standard and integrated it with the company’s data center audit services so that organizations have an opportunity to recognize and correct operational risk factors and improve businesses wherever possible. The DCOS or Data Center Operations Standard was born out of the need to streamline the benchmarks used in data centers around the world. According to van Leent, “The DCOS provides data center investors, owners, and operators a progressive approach to improve data center operations management, based on a framework that has great flexibility to adapt to specific business needs.”
Through the audit process, EPI walks organizations through seven steps to ensure compliance with some or all of the disciplines and their integrations. Data center operators or owners are provided a clear picture of the current levels of maturity of each process EPI audits, and they have an opportunity to set expectations on organizational capabilities based on this critical information. Improvement recommendations are given to the data center operators which are used to employ human capital in the areas where the greatest impact can be experienced. Reducing inefficiencies brought about by problematic processes results in improvement not only in consistent delivery of those service capabilities of the data center but also in its service to end users.
"We don’t compromise on quality. When we take on a new customer, we are fully convinced we can do the job well"
In addition to developing the DCOS standard and integrating it into leading audit services, EPI also offers design validation and certification for organizations. The company reviews the constructional drawing of the data center to ensure it is capable of meeting business needs and that there are no glaring issues that may arise once construction is complete. van Leent explains, “It’s often extremely hard to make modifications once a data center is built, either because it is technically impossible or it is cost prohibitive to do so. Customers often make the mistake of trusting design consultants too much, and they might end up with a design that is not fully aligned with the standard or business objectives. We work to reduce that risk before and after construction is done.”
EPI also provides a broad range of accredited training programs for data center and IT professionals. Delivered to more than 50 countries and 120 cities, EPI courses take an impartial stance on accreditation and examination. Van Leent states, “We write our own training programs, and each goes through multiple stages of approval with the help of an external accreditation body. Both the certified data center training and certified IT training programs are based on practical knowledge transfer elements instead of theoretical guidelines.” Training certifications are based on core competencies necessary in data center organizations and IT departments, and customers are offered a streamlined method to determine which individuals or units need which training, and when. Further, examination scoring is conducted through an external examination body, creating a professional separation between the trainer and the examinee.
EPI has launched its Data Center Competence Framework as a tool to help data center organizations better understand the skills and proficiencies data center employees need in the workplace. Through the DCCF®, owners and operators have the ability to align certain job descriptions with competencies that are required to fulfill a specific position’s needs. More than 30 examples of job roles are included within the DCCF, from business managers to civil engineers, and recommended training courses are connected to each job role for ease of planning and implementation.
One of EPI’s customers experienced notable success utilizing the competencies and Data Center Career Planning tool, the DCPT. As a large data center, there was a need to train all employees and clearly define job roles without creating overlap and ultimately inefficient operations. The customer was able to copy and paste from EPI’s job role database and run those through the DCPT planning tool. In doing so, the organization was able to fully map out training for each of its employees, including detailed schedules of who would be able to attend each course and where. According to the training coordinator at the organization, “Without the help of EPI’s training tools, it would have taken several days to complete the training proposal and even then, management would not necessarily sign off.” In less than half a day, the organization had the information it needed to create a training roadmap for each of its employees, saving time and money in the process.
"The dcos® provides data center investors, owners, and operators a progressive approach to improve data center operations management, based on a framework that has great flexibility to adapt to specific business needs"
Part of EPI’s long-standing success in the data center industry can be linked back to its dedicated team of professionals. Having a business mission built on a foundation of ethical business practices and employing only the best data center and IT experts continue to push EPI forward in its vertical. van Leent states, “We don’t compromise on quality. When we take on a new customer, we are fully convinced we can do the job well.” Over the last year, EPI has had the opportunity to expand in Latin America and Europe, establishing physical offices throughout each region to meet customers where they are. Looking ahead, the company plans to continue its rapid expansion in the U.S.
In addition to geographic expansion, EPI plans to enhance its DCPT planning tool for IT professionals to the market. van Leent states, “It’s a common problem that most people don’t have proper job descriptions, in both data centers and IT departments. Organizations fail to realize these inefficiencies in practice and we want to do our best to help these customers improve wherever possible.” The company expects to continue its focus on the audit and certification business while adding more practical tools and training for data centers and IT organizations to move their businesses forward.