Expert Blog: Data Center Operations During COVID-19

Angela Adam
Author: Angela Adam, Marketing Director eStruxture Data Centers

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a defining moment for the cloud, reinforcing the importance of colocation data centers and what they do.

When COVID-19 erupted, operators had to be agile and regroup quickly to implement measures that would safeguard their employees and customers’ businesses. In addition to implementing sanitary measures, they also had to determine what was considered “essential work” to evaluate the support needed from external suppliers.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Roger Desgroseilliers, Director of Facilities Operations for eStruxture Data Centers, who oversees a team of 11 people and is responsible for our three Montreal facilities (MTL-1, MTL-2 and MTL-3). We also interviewed data center manager Laurent Dubois, who has 10 years of experience in data center operations. We discussed some of the challenges they faced as they navigated this unprecedented year for the industry.

Laurent Dubois’ site is located in downtown Montreal, one of the areas that were hit the hardest by the virus. He remarks, “eStruxture serves 900 clients. During the first wave of COVID-19, clients were not comfortable or allowed to visit our colocation data centers due to restrictions in place and relied on our teams to do some of the maintenance.” eStruxture also offered a smart hands service at a 50% discount to support clients with their software and computer hardware needs.

New Safety Protocols, Disinfection of High-Touch Areas

All industries have had to adjust and implement new safety protocols and procedures in response to this global pandemic. The disinfection of high-touch areas, frequent handwashing, and more remote work have all been an accepted part of this ‘new normal’. Data centers are no different.

“Best practices are to ensure sanitary measures are in place, communicated and enforced throughout our sites,” said Mr. Desgroseilliers. “We also limit the workforce at the sites to necessary personnel for the day-to-day operations. Remote work is implemented wherever feasible.”

According to Laurent, masks are also mandatory in public areas and some special guidelines were created for contractors coming from outside, such as testing their temperature and limiting contact with team members.

Accelerated Growth

With more people working remotely and b2b communications taking place digitally, the demand for technology is skyrocketing. This drives more network use, and as a result, more demand for the critical infrastructure that colocation data centers are responsible for.

eStruxture has experienced rapid growth since its launch in 2017, and the last two quarters have been the strongest performing quarters in the history of the company. This has in large part been due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on companies’ digital transformation strategy. However, with this fast growth, come new challenges.

When asked what they thought the next year would look like for the industry, both Roger Desgroseilliers and Laurent Dubois agreed that this newfound growth will only continue.

“COVID-19 has served as a trend accelerator for everything from housing to enterprise digitalization,” added Mr. Dubois. “A lot of businesses are now forced to go through e-commerce for their revenues and to create new digital platforms to reach their customers. The video games industry has also gotten a huge boost and platforms like Stadia along with it. This is all good for the data center colocation industry.”