Availability & Uptime

It Was My Understanding There Would Be No Math: The Data Center IQ Quiz

Is it possible to measure someone’s “data center IQ”? Can we test to see if data center operators and managers have knowledge of industry trends and best practices?

After working with the Ponemon Institute on a survey of 570 data center professionals in which we asked 25 multiple-choice, knowledge-based questions and 12 operating practice questions … we still aren’t sure.

But we do know the results of that survey are revealing and entertaining. You can read the complete Data Center IQ Report, which includes results for each question as well as an analysis of aggregate results by industry, data center size, and participants’ age and functional role, here. You can also take a condensed 15-question version of the IQ quiz and compare your results to others’, here.

The questions covered five areas key to data center performance—cost management, availability, productivity, speed-of-deployment and risk management. Quiz questions ranged from the simple, such as what does PUE stand for, to the complex, such as identifying the seven capabilities a DCIM tool must provide.

The 570 participants scored, on average, 9.4 correct answers out of the 25 quiz questions (I gave partial credit for a question like the seven DCIM capabilities). This is lower than might be expected but, in hindsight, not surprising considering the range of disciplines the quiz covered. As you would expect, Data Center and Facility Managers achieved the highest scores compared to IT Operations other general IT roles; participants with larger data centers performed better than those with smaller data centers; and participants from the colocation and cloud industry scored better than other verticals (I’m not going to bring up who scored higher; the “young guns” or the “seasoned professionals” but you can find out for yourself in the report).

So why did we do it and what does it all mean? We did it for two reasons: First, to highlight the vast array of knowledge an organization must possess to optimize data center performance, and 2.) to help professionals in the industry identify gaps both in their own knowledge and between what they know and what they actually do in their data centers. Second, we wanted to provide an educational resource that was lighter, and more fun, than a typical data center research report or white paper. (Wait, that is actually three reasons. See, no math needed here.)

I’d love to hear from you about whether we accomplished those objectives or not and if there are other things we could be doing to provide you with the information you need to achieve your data center goals.

As to what it all means, I’m reluctant to read too much into the results of the survey, but it does confirm for me that, to turn an old phrase on its head, “it is rocket science.” You need to be an expert in mechanical, electrical, thermal, security, inventory, workflow, regulations, codes and so much more. Will it get simpler in the future? It doesn’t seem likely. But we will continue to work with data center professionals to give them the equipment and tools to simplify the management of their systems and facilities.