By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
Every business in the modern age benefits from digitization. The ability to track, automate, gather data, and learn is what enables us to get better—whether you’re a tech startup or an established ecommerce firm. This universal digitization trend has also given rise to new business responsibilities that support an influx of data—including IT facilities management.
While many businesses rightfully prioritize hiring data engineers and technology experts, you can’t overlook the fundamental need for IT facility management. This doesn’t always mean hiring another person; rather, it requires facility management staff who understand the nuances of managing a technical environment.
Understand the role of IT facilities management
What is IT facilities management? It’s the comprehensive oversight of a business’ IT infrastructure from a facilities standpoint. Where an IT specialist ensures the operability of networked systems, an IT facilities manager ensures facilities support those functions. In simpler terms: an IT professional wires the server rack, while an IT facility manager ensures the room it’s in has proper ventilation, temperature controls, and air handling.
Also called Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), the role takes the principles of general facilities management and marries them to an array of important IT demands. The objectives of IT facilities management are clear:
- Optimize synergy between digital assets and workplace facilities
- Cooperate with IT support to install and service IT assets
- Manage the physical environment of vital IT infrastructure
General facilities management enables a productive, supportive workplace; IT facilities management keeps the workplace connected.
Optimize synergy between assets and facilities
IT assets take many forms: simple routers, modems, computer workstations, commercial copy machines, servers, and various Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Just as these assets support the daily needs of employees, facilities themselves need to support IT assets. The copy machine should be accessible in an area where the most staff will benefit from it. IoT devices need to coexist with the spaces they monitor and collect data in.
IT facility managers need to examine the relationship between IT assets and facilities to understand their synergy. How can facilities enable IT assets and what can these assets do to improve facilities? It starts with careful consideration of the relationship between them.
Cooperate with IT support teams
A big part of IT facility management is collaboration with IT service techs. Facility managers know how employees interact with their tech-enabled workplace, but they don’t handle the administration of that tech. Likewise, IT teams cover all aspects of administration, but don’t gauge the need.
IT personnel get digital networks and systems up and running, but it’s the job of facility managers to provide the framework. IT managers don’t decide where to set up the server room or how many workstations go on the third floor. It’s up to facility managers to provide an IT blueprint to the support teams that set up and maintain assets. From there, it’s a collaborative approach that allows the digital and physical workplace to operate in harmony.
Manage the physical environment
At larger companies, demand for IT facilities management is sometimes enough for a full-time job. These companies maintain secure server rooms, data centers, and complex IT infrastructures. The sheer amount of cabling and racked hardware puts the onus of maintenance on the facilities themselves.
- Are these assets getting enough power?
- Are there redundant backups?
- Is climate stringently controlled?
- Is air quality monitored?
These IT management questions have solutions rooted in facilities management. Utilities, HVAC, and air quality are broad functions of facilities management. IT environments almost become facilities within facilities and demand their own specialized oversight. If the server room temperature needs to stay within 68 degrees to 71 degrees and your employees prefer temperatures between 72 degrees to 75 degrees, both standards need to coexist in harmony.
Security is also important here. Digital security is a cornerstone of modern business operations, and that includes at the point of physical storage. Coordinating access control, alert, and monitoring systems for IT environments is of paramount concern—another duty of facilities managers.
IT is the backbone of business
This is the age of IT facilities management. Employees need a supportive work environment and nothing ensures that more reliably than IT infrastructure. Well-maintained IT hardware and systems result in the digital reliability and accessibility employees rely on every day. As businesses digitize more aspects of operations, emphasis on good IT facilities management grows. If you want your workplace to support employees, make sure it supports a robust IT infrastructure too.