As we see the easing of restrictions in our society following the mass lockdowns and business interruptions, I thought it may be valuable to share some of my observations from servicing the Telecommunication and Datacenter industries through this crisis.
Donwil has been providing critical infrastructure for powering, cooling, and monitoring electronic environments for well over 50 years. We have seen our clients change and grow; our applications become more complex; the scopes become larger, but one thing has never changed- the systems we support provide the foundations for healthcare, communication, and finance.
Hardly anyone could have made it through more than 8 weeks of strict lockdown without the help of our incredible digital economy powered by telecommunications and data centers. Health science has been leveraging technology at a fever pitch racing to find relief from a deadly novel coronavirus.
My business supports hundreds of data centers, hospitals, and central offices in three states. These are my biggest takeaways:
Data centers did not stop running. If anything, their challenges intensified. Microsoft alone estimates a 775% increase in the traffic through its Azure Cloud during COVID. Netflix usage was up 72%. Instacart online grocery orders are up over 500%. Donwil’s own data center service business remained flat year over year even considering that we were not allowed into over 50% of our customers’ facilities for routine maintenance.
Many of our clients made large investments in spare parts, and some vendors global supply chains were affected. This put a huge burden on our stocking inventories and logistics personnel. I don’t know of an instance where we were unable to supply either spares or new equipment throughout the pandemic.
Our customers were very appreciative, and their staffs worked selflessly and tirelessly to keep the most critical life-sustaining functions running for millions of people worldwide. Donwil’s service technicians worked around the clock to keep pace with issues and additions to facilities. These men and women continued working in uncertain times so that cell phones worked, people could work from home, food deliveries could continue, movies could stream… (you get the idea). While credit often goes elsewhere, both customers and technicians put themselves in a potentially dangerous place to make sure services continued. They deserve our respect and thanks.
Even though this was a massive endeavor, safety was a top priority. Both providers and service companies spent large amounts of time and money to protect their workers and contractors. Fortunately, Donwil’s technicians had infectious disease training, so our biggest challenge was sourcing PPE.
Beyond the PPE, new policies and procedures had to be studied and adopted quickly and often without precedent to maintain social distancing and to eliminate contamination of air streams and surfaces. I am very proud of my team’s ability to adapt and comply with customer directives. I am thankful my customers were so prepared and serious about the safety of their partners and vendors.
With new challenges, solutions came to the forefront. Since our inception, we have been focused on ensuring critical applications are always running. What really came to light through this pandemic was that our clients’ people are a critical process. We always regarded our employees as our most important asset but never had products or services centered around providing uptime for humans.
We sourced the top providers of air purification technology to our product portfolio. We can add UV light systems to air handling equipment to kill contaminants on the surface of the coil. We can add BiPolar Ionization (proven to kill 99.92% of airborne viruses). We can virtually eliminate the sharing of airstreams in building with VRF climate control systems. Donwil has become hyper-focused on leveraging these technologies to get people back to work quicker and safer than before. I am so pleased to be able to provide healthier environments for my customer’s most critical assets, their employees.
2020 has been tough on everyone. I am relieved to see that people are getting back to pursuing their passion for their work, and generally that our measures to stem a pandemic were largely beneficial for a lot of people. I am thankful that my teams were able to continue helping our customers remain running, and that their diligence and preparation helped them to stay safe.
President and Owner
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