Data Center Consulting
Data Center & Computer Room Project Feasibility & Cost Budgeting
Data center and/or computer room project assessment and cost estimating are accomplished by identifying the key design criteria for the two (2) main areas of the project focus within the overall data center infrastructure and services, the Technology Infrastructure & Services (IT) and the Support Infrastructure & Services (the Facility). The key design criteria are:
Key Design Criteria
Power & Cooling Density
Infrastructure & Services
Infrastructure & Services
Data Center Project Budget
Since a data center project typically involves base-building design, Site Selection must also be included as a criterion placed on the overall design.
A computer room project, on the other hand, can be as involved as a project within a bigger
base building project or as simple as a relocation and/or upgrade of an existing computer room within an established building space.
The first milestone in creating a data center project budget is to determine the Availability Requirement for the facility. While it is common practice to state the need for 7x24xForever availability, the steep cost curve associated with delivering on this expectation must be realized. PTSs data center classification system is based, in part, on the Uptime Institutes tier classification system. For more information, please download our white paper on the subject: PTS Data Center Classification and Cost Guide.
Power & Cooling Density
The next step in defining a project budget is to determine the Power Density to be used as a basis for design. The power density can be described as the amount of power delivered to the critical load per unit of area and is directly related to the amount of heat that must be removed via the computer room air conditioner (CRAC) systems. In general, PTS defines power density in terms of Rack Location Units (RLUs). In a typical data processing environment each RLU dissipates 1,500 to 4,000 watts. However, network RLUs, 1U server RLUs, and blade server RLUs consume considerable more power, and therefore dissipate considerably more heat. The uneven distribution of RLU power density is becoming ever more commonplace, and is the number one obstacle in present day data center design.
The final design criteria component of the project budget is the cost associated with achieving the Business Objectives for the facility. Selection of the network services delivery is what drives the final selection of all network, security, server, storage, access, communications, and monitoring infrastructure to be deployed within the facility. Ultimately, this equipment is the critical load that must be supported by the supporting infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the space requirements for a computer room project are often previously dictated by management and/or the project architect. This complicates the design by restricting the power & cooling density strategy utilized as a criterion. Inevitably, this also increases the overall cost of the project.
Technology Infrastructure & Services (IT)
As shown in the chart at the top of the page, in the design process, data center infrastructure and services are broken down into Technology and Supporting categories for budgeting purposes.
The Technology Infrastructure & Services budget is determined by working with IT personnel to identify the existing systems and growth projections, evaluate planned upgrades and improvements, and quantify financial constraints; as well as to correlate how each relate to the core business strategy they support. The technology infrastructure & services budget includes the following elements:
- Project Management
- Technology Systems Design (Network, Security, Server, Storage, Cable Plant, Communications, NOC and Monitoring)
- WAN Services Procurement
- Relocated, Replacement & New - Server & Storage Infrastructure
- Relocated, Replacement & New - Network, WAN & Network Security Infrastructure
- Relocated, Replacement & New - Voice Communications Infrastructure
- Relocation Services
- Technology Systems Installation
- Cable Plant Installation
- Physical Support Equipment (Cabinets, Enclosure, Racks, Trays, Troughs & Ladders)
- NOC & A/V Equipment & Installation
Support Infrastructure & Services (the Facility)
As previously discussed, the Support Infrastructure & Services budget is determined by considering the technology infrastructure, power density, and availability requirement. In general, the higher the power density and/or availability, the greater the support infrastructure required and thereby the higher the overall cost. Within the overall data center infrastructure plans, the support infrastructure & services budget includes the following elements:
- Project Management
- Support Infrastructure Systems Design, Engineering & Construction
- Architectural Design & Construction
- Support Infrastructure Systems (Power, Cooling, Fire Safety, Architectural, etc.)
All Together Now
Consider these three elements together:
- Identifying the Business Objectives, or network services to be delivered by the data center and/or computer room determines the size of the critical load.
- Deciding the Power & Cooling Density with which this critical equipment will be deployed, ultimately leads to the total (IT infrastructure + support infrastructure) space required. The critical load density leads to the number of RLUs and the amount of IT space (raised floor space) required for the environment. In general, densities greater than 4,000-watts per RLU can be considered high-density deployments and will require increasing amounts of supporting infrastructure. For extremely high-density deployments the ratio of support space to IT space can exceed 2-to-1.
- Determination of the Availability Requirements for the business use of the facility will be the number one cost driver of the project budget. Excellent data center availability can be achieved with redundancy built into all major systems and sub-systems. However, always-availability can only be achieved with designs that:
- Deploy multiple active delivery pathways for both power and cooling,
- Are concurrently maintainable,
- Have incorporated fault-tolerance,
- Have taken into account site selection criteria.
In the end, establishing the design criteria for the project will lead to the determination of:
- Space requirements
- Budget requirements
- Time requirements
It is difficult to generalize the data center technology infrastructure budget since so much depends on the type of business, the platform utilized, and so on. However, it is not uncommon for the project budget to be ten-of-thousands of dollars per RLU, or thousands of dollars per square foot of raised floor space. For more information, please download our white paper on the subject: PTS Data Center Classification and Cost Guide.
Back to the Top