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DCMS creates datacentre-focused resiliency team to keep UK online during coronavirus outbreak

Tech trade body TechUK reveals further details of the work going on behind the scenes at government level to ensure datacentre operators have access to the resources they need to cope with the surge in businesses and consumers accessing online services

TechUK has moved to assure datacentre operators that ensuring mission-critical staff can access facilities will be a top priority if even tighter restrictions on movement are introduced as part of the government’s response to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The tech trade body confirmed The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had created a datacentre-focused resiliency team, which was working with TechUK to ensure critical staff could still access UK datacentres without compromising the government’s stay-at-home mandate.

“TechUK is continuing to work closely with DCMS and our immediate focus is to ensure access for critical staff in the event of tighter restrictions on movement without compromising government objectives to restrict anything but essential activity,” said TechUK, in a statement.

TechUK reiterated its past comments that work was underway to ensure the important role the datacentre sector was playing in keeping the UK online during the pandemic was being communicated across government.

“DCMS has also established a dedicated team for the datacentre sector…they understand the critical role that datacentres play and are ensuring that this is understood across government,” the statement added.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, TechUK has also successfully lobbied to have datacentre infrastructure staff added to the government’s list of key workers, so they can receive assistance with childcare if they are required to work.

The organisation said it was also working with the DCMS team to collate a list of “essential roles” within datacentres so that the government department could set about designing a process that would enable “core staff” to get to sites if stricter lockdown restrictions were introduced.

These include individuals concerned with operational, security, cleaning and construction work, as well as colocation customers, subcontractors, outsourced maintenance providers, fuel suppliers and back-office staff.

“DCMS needs to understand the core roles, understand why they matter, get a feel for approximate numbers and where our activities are concentrated,” said TechUK, in a separate bulletin, published on 23 March.

TechUK previously revealed details about how competitors across the UK datacentre sector are joining forces to share best practice about how to ensure the sector can continue to keep the UK online, in the event of coronavirus-related staff sickness and movement restrictions.

In a similar vein, the TechUK bulletin said operators with facilities in countries with more stringent movement restrictions in place and higher levels of coronavirus-related absenteeism than the UK could also provide valuable insights with regard to how the sector should respond.

“Operators with facilities in other countries subject to lockdown may have valuable insights into what has and has not worked, and whether the more pragmatic approaches of some countries have been as effective as other, more draconian restrictions elsewhere,” it said.

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