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April 28, 2020

Essential Employee Series: Keeping Our World Connected, The Unsung Heroes of the Data Center

The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright light on the importance of all sorts of jobs and made us all acutely aware of how important medical workers, teachers, store clerks, farmers, and truck drivers are to the continuity of our everyday lives. Well, the data center industry has its own set of unsung heroes – those who support the infrastructure needed to keep us connected as we shift almost exclusively to working, learning, and playing online.

DataBank has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – as a “National Critical Function” (NCF). The NCF is a function of “government and the private sector so vital to the United States that their disruption, corruption, or dysfunction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”

Our essential employees know this and have been briefed on our Continuity of Operations Plans (CoOP) from their first date of hire. Few could have imagined the current scenario, but all have responded as heroes, facing the obvious risks to come to work, keep our facilities open and clean, and keep our customer infrastructures up and running.

This is the first installment of a series of blog posts we’re making to highlight these amazing, hardworking members of the DataBank team who, while taking the utmost precautions, are working tirelessly and fearlessly to keep us all connected.

Nic Forcum, Lead Data Center Technician, Kansas City 

Nic Forum DataBank Nic works closely with customers and vendors on the Operations side of our Kansas City facilities. He assists in providing access to equipment, turning up circuits, and performing remote hands services, including the rack and stack of equipment, Layer 1 troubleshooting, and internal networking.

You can imagine his days are already very busy, but amidst the COVID-19 crisis, his responsibilities and duties expanded and have included additional remote hands requests, turning up more circuits so customers can have increased bandwidth, along with other support tasks to assist clients who are staying home and working remotely.

As Nic so aptly puts it: “We are a 24x7x365 operation here, so have always had staff on-site around the clock. As of late, I have seen everyone going the extra mile to support each other and ensuring our clients are taken care of. We work as a team. I didn’t realize how often I shook hands with people until this happened and it can’t be done anymore. This crisis has shown us there will be a new way of doing business moving forward utilizing internet, cloud, and managed services such as IaaS. Client satisfaction during this time is very important to us. During this crisis, DataBank has been very supportive of its data center staff. I am proud to be a ‘DataBanker’.”

Thanks, Nic! We appreciate your dedication and customer-focused spirit. And we’re fortunate to have you on our team.

Brandon Heslop DataBankBrandon Heslop, Lead Data Center Supervisor, Salt Lake City

Brandon Heslop is another one of DataBank’s heroes of this pandemic. He is currently working to finalize the details for the SLC5 opening. That includes facilitating delivery of last-minute items like appliances and furniture. He is also a crucial point-person for access to facilities.

“We’ve seen an uptick in cross connect requests across our data centers. Our customers may want to connect to a carrier for added service, for example. Everyone is experiencing higher levels of bandwidth usage. We are running two to three new cross connects a week per site, with customers wanting them expedited as quickly as possible,” says Brandon.

When asked how he’s able to keep things up and running, Brandon immediately commends his team for being on the “front lines” day in and day out to keep operations running smoothly and ensuring business continuity for DataBank. Brandon says he misses the day-to-day small talk and face-to-face camaraderie at the data center. He says he feels communication will improve as an outcome of the current crisis. “Everyone is realizing how important those little, personal interactions are.”

Brandon, thank you for your commitment to the DataBank team and our customers! We couldn’t do it without you!

In the days, weeks and months ahead, we will be highlighting more of DataBank’s essential staff, so that you can put faces to those who are behind the scenes – indeed behind the SCREENS – of your devices and keeping you online, every day.

To our end-users, we want to remind you that the essential employees at DataBank’s data centers across the country are making sure you stay connected and your IT infrastructure is secure. And we thank them and recognize them for their work.

For our customers, we recognize that COVID-19 represents an unprecedented challenge, and we’re here to help. We know you have more to worry about now than ever before, and that’s why we’re providing the people and the expertise you need to reduce the burden of managing your IT infrastructure. Thank you for choosing DataBank.